The new 2012 Bentley Continental GT is a deliciously decadent automobile. It is sensual in design, yet powerful and fast enough to handle any challenge on the highway. It is an amazing combination of style, speed and comfort.
The original Continental GT coupe was introduced back in 2003 and re-established Bentley as a player in the ultra-luxury two-door sport sedan market. The new version is an upgrade on the original, with numerous little improvements and subtle changes that all contribute to making a better automobile, but without seriously dating the older original. The changes are subtle and include a more upright grille and LED running lights trimming the main projector beams.
Interestingly, Bentley says the primary body panels on the new Continental GT have been fabricated with a new technique that involves heating single sheets of aluminum to 950 degrees, then shaping them under high pressure to remove welds and seams, allowing designers to produce much tighter bends and curves. These advanced aluminum Super Forming production techniques allow for a more sculpted body and sharp power lines. The result is a new body with improved aerodynamics that delivers a smoother, quieter and more stable ride at higher speeds.
Under the hood, the Continental GT is powered by Bentley’s six-liter, 12-cylinder, twin-turbocharged 567 bhp engine mated to a new Quickshift transmission capable of double downshifts. And, thanks to advanced FlexFuel technology, the engine also can run on both standard unleaded gasoline and sustainable bioethanol (up to E85) or any mix of the two. All this power delivers a 0-60 mph clocking in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 198 mph.
Later this year, an all-new, high-output eight-cylinder engine will be available. It’s an advanced power engine and will deliver a 40 percent reduction in emissions, compared with the W12 engine.
Both engines are mated to an all-wheel drive system with a sporty rear-torque bias to minimize understeer during hard cornering, allowing more experienced drivers to control the car’s line and balance with precise throttle manipulation.
On the inside, the cabin is handcrafted, with a bold, sweeping dashboard and instrument panel finished in premium soft-touch leather. The distinctive cobra-design seats give added comfort and rear cabin space has been “enhanced.”
A new touchscreen 30GB infotainment system includes new advanced satellite navigation with dynamic route guidance, seven-digit postal code entry and Google Map compatibility. Audio systems have the latest wide frequency Balance Mode Radiator speakers as standard equipment, with Revolutionary Dirac Dimensions DSP for exceptional sound reproduction from the Naim for Bentley premium audio system.
And all this luxury and power for a mere starting price of $189,900.
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com.