Full 2008 Bentley Continental GT Review
What's New for 2008
Bentley revises the suspension and steering for the 2008 Continental GT coupe in order to improve ride and steering feel. Changes to the suspension and cooling system also result in a reduction of 77 pounds from the curb weight. The trip computer, Bluetooth interface and Breitling clock are revised for 2008 as well, while satellite radio becomes standard equipment. New optional features include a rearview camera, a three-spoke sport steering wheel and carbon ceramic brakes. There are also minor exterior changes.
Something funny happened to Bentley. Once upon a time, they were the preferred car of 14th Earl of Chesterton types who fancied something a trifle less stuffy than a Rolls-Royce. Which is really all that Bentleys were for the better part of a century: slightly less expensive Rollers with a flying B hood ornament rather than a flying lady.
Now, Bentleys are the "it" car to be seen in by celebrities and other hot young things with money. The Continental GT can take a fair share of the credit, as it's the high-performance luxury grand touring car that set Bentley down its own new path away from its former Rolls-Royce oppressors. Of course, that path was sketched out courtesy of current owner Volkswagen, which provides the car's platform, all-wheel-drive system and W12 drivetrain along with some interior switchgear.
Yet, it's arguably the Continental's imposingly elegant styling and sheer presence that have made it such a tremendous success among the global jet set. The exterior and sumptuous interior simultaneously combine to create an aesthetic balance between sleek, modern GT car and the grandiose design cues that brand tradition dictates. Although it's a decidedly new shape, it's also unmistakably Bentley.
With 12-cylinder power, bespoke customization choices, a regal interior and undeniable exclusivity, the 2008 Bentley Continental GT coupe certainly satisfies the need for the attributes of a grand touring luxury car that exists in the upper crust price bracket. It's not the sportiest entry in this category, but cars like the Continental, Aston Martin DB9 and Mercedes-Benz CL600 are generally more suited for boulevard cruising than canyon carving. In this premium luxury coupe segment, it's impossible to go wrong, but the Continental GT's unmatchable blend of old- and new-world style presents a special appeal, whether you're the 14th Earl of Chesterton or the 114th tycoon boyfriend of Paris Hilton.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Bentley Continental GT is a premium luxury coupe available in one loaded trim. Standard equipment includes 19-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, an automatic extending rear spoiler, keyless ignition/entry, power-latching doors, power opening/closing trunk, a full leather interior available in 17 off-the-shelf colors, multizone automatic climate control with rear seat controls, 14-way power front seats with memory, Bluetooth, a navigation system and a 12-speaker stereo with satellite radio and a glovebox-mounted six-CD changer.
Options include carbon ceramic brakes (only available with optional 20-inch wheels), a three-spoke sport steering wheel, a heated steering wheel and a rearview camera. There are also a variety of special-order options known as Mulliner Features that range from upgraded veneers and deep-pile carpet to specialized exterior paint colors.
Powertrains and Performance
Underneath the Bentley Continental GT's hood is a 6.0-liter twin-turbo 12-cylinder engine arranged in Volkswagen's unique W formation. Paired to a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, it produces 552 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. In performance testing, the prodigious amount of power hustled the heavy Bentley from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.
This ultraluxury coupe offers standard safety features like stability control, traction control, antilock brakes and side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers. Front and rear parking sensors are also standard.
Interior Design and Special Features
Open the door to the 2008 Bentley Continental GT and you'll find a cabin drenched in real metal accents, classy veneer and supple leather. The interior has an old-world feel, with push-pull vent controls, a Breitling timepiece and lots of switches and levers made of real metal. This being a Bentley, there is tremendous attention to detail. You'll find that even the car's exterior mirrors are circled with chrome bezel, and seatbacks are graced with sleek, brushed aluminum release levers.
Double-pane side glass blocks wind noise and helps keep the cabin as quiet as a reading room. Interior controls are relatively intuitive, and most drivers will be able to function within the cabin without cracking the owner's manual. There's room for two passengers in back. Don't expect an abundance of headroom, since the Continental GT's sloping rear deck and window results in some compromises in this area. There's ample room for groceries and cargo in the 13-cubic-foot trunk. Both trunk and rear-seat space are significantly greater than the Aston Martin DB9's.
The laws of physics were drawn up to prevent things this massive from traveling so quickly. With 552 hp being dropped onto the pavement through all four tires, this 5,200-pound Bentley manages to counteract gravity by accelerating with tremendous thrust. The brakes do a similar job -- just in the opposite direction. That weight and taut chassis makes it feel secure when tested on corners, a trait that also owes a debt of gratitude to the car's adjustable and automatic air suspension system. Still, the Continental could use a little more steering feel, and there's more body roll evident than some of its grand touring competitors.