What's New for 2006
There are no significant changes this year for the Bentley Continental GT.
The Continental GT, introduced in 2004, is the first all-new product to come out of a Bentley factory since Volkswagen purchased the company in the late '90s. For longtime Bentley fans, such an arrangement could be viewed as blasphemous. Having the storied British marque owned and controlled by Germany's largest automaker may not represent what W.O. Bentley originally planned when he started his company more than 80 years ago. However, there's no denying that the Continental GT coupe is one of the most exciting vehicles to wear that famous "B" emblem in 70 years.
Though some may consider the exterior styling of this large, high-performance GT coupe controversial, it is certainly distinctive. The wow factor continues inside, where the interior materials and control layout conspire to create an outstanding cabin. (This may not be so surprising when you consider the parent company's penchant for great interiors.) From the inside, most people will never suspect that the GT's underlying structure is similar to VW's ill-fated luxury car, the Phaeton. The GT's 12-cylinder engine, which is aligned in a "W" configuration with four narrow-aligned banks of three cylinders each, also bears similarity to other engines in the VW range.
One unfortunate aspect of the Continental GT's design is a rather hefty curb weight. Though we certainly don't expect it to be a lithe sports car, the GT does tip the scales at about 5,300 pounds, which is considerably more than what its competitors weigh in at. This bulk, along with the car's forward weight bias, dulls its handling capabilities and limits how much fun a driver can really have. As a personal ultraluxury coupe, then, the Conti GT makes a lot of sense, particularly when price is factored in. Otherwise, potential buyers in this segment looking for something a bit more dynamic will be happier with Aston Martin's DB9 or Ferrari's 612 Scaglietti.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Bentley Continental GT is a large, ultraluxury coupe. Only one well-appointed trim level is available. Standard equipment highlights include bi-HID headlights, adjustable suspension damping, 19-inch wheels, auto-latching doors, four-zone automatic climate control, 14-way power front seats with three-position memory, DVD navigation and a premium audio system with a glovebox-mounted CD changer. Bentley also offers a host of customization options, including out-of-range exterior paint colors and special interior trim materials and color schemes. There's also a Mulliner Driving Specification package, which adds 20-inch two-piece wheels and unique leather upholstery.
Powertrains and Performance
The Continental GT comes with a 6.0-liter, twin-turbo W12. This power plant is good for 552 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission choice and it sends the engine's power through a continuous four-wheel-drive system. According to Bentley, the Continental GT is capable of zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed just shy of 200 mph.
Standard safety features include stability control, traction control, antilock brakes and side and side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers. Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash tested the Continental GT.
Interior Design and Special Features
Real metal accents and supple leather throughout the Continental GT's cabin highlight the old-world design elements, such as the push-pull vent controls and deep-set gauges. Even the door-mounted window switches and the levers for moving the front seats forward are made of real metal. Interior controls, though complex, can be easily mastered without having to consult the owner's manual. In back, the GT has seating for two people. Because of the car's sloping rear deck and window, headroom is the main measurement in short supply. Luggage capacity is 13 cubic feet, more than double that offered by the Aston Martin DB9.
The Continental GT weighs in at a hefty 5,300 pounds. As one would expect, this mass imparts the car with an aura of solidity. More surprising is that the GT is stable and secure when sent through corners. Much credit goes to the car's adjustable and automatic air suspension system. There is no repeal for the laws of physics, however, and the GT is out of its element when hustled forth on tight and twisty roads. With little drama, the twin-turbo W12 produces tremendous thrust. Braking is similarly effortless with short stops and superb feedback through the pedal.