What's New for 2010
The 2010 Bentley Continental GT remains unchanged, except for the addition of some color and styling choices as part of the new Series 51 option. The new, higher-performance Continental Supersports is reviewed separately.
When the Bentley Continental GT debuted in 2003, its swooping shape and substantial road presence turned the heads of even the most jaded of wealthy motorists. Seven years later, however, the GT has become as become as commonplace in Beverly Hills as a trust fund, barely turning the heads of visiting tourists. With hotter, sexier models trolling Rodeo Drive, that seven-year itch might be pushing buyers away until the GT goes in for a little nip and tuck.
But that's not to say this Bentley is unworthy of your affection. The 2010 Bentley Continental GT continues to impress inside, where rich cowhide, gleaming wood and classic analog instrumentation combine to create a perfectly opulent environment. Under the hood, the all-wheel-drive Bentley receives a twin-turbocharged W12 power plant courtesy of parent company Volkswagen, a distinctive-sounding engine that generates gargantuan low-end torque.
When stacked up against other ultraluxury coupes, though, the Continental GT's appeal might begin to wane. A similarly priced Aston Martin DB9 delivers more driving excitement in a sleeker body, as does a Maserati GranTurismo at $60,000 less. The Mercedes CL600 is another fantastic ride and certainly more up to date in terms of electronics. On its own merits, the Bentley Continental GT will still impress those with discerning tastes. But we're starting to look forward to what kind of a comeback might be in store for the next full redesign.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Bentley Continental GT is a premium luxury coupe offered in a single, well-appointed trim level. Standard equipment includes painted 19-inch alloy wheels, an electronically adjustable air suspension, bi-xenon headlamps with washers, an automatically deploying rear spoiler, rain-sensing wipers, power door latches, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition and entry, a power-opening and -closing trunk, a full leather interior with a choice of primary and secondary hides in 17 colors, burl walnut trim, multizone automatic climate control with rear-seat controls, 14-way power heated front seats, memory functions, Bluetooth, a navigation system and a 10-speaker stereo with satellite radio and a glovebox-mounted six-CD changer.
Options include carbon-ceramic brakes (only available with the optional 20-inch wheels), adaptive cruise control, a three-spoke sport steering wheel (heated or regular), an 1,100-watt 13-speaker Naim sound system with two subwoofers, an iPod input jack, massaging front seats, four upgraded interior veneers and a rearview camera. There are also a variety of special-order options known as the Mulliner Driving Specification that range from more exclusive veneers and lamb's-wool carpeting to diamond-quilted seating surfaces and specialized exterior paint colors.
New for 2010 is the Series 51 option of pre-selected interior treatments. This add-on takes its name from the year 1951, when the first official Bentley styling department was established. This package adds "51" badging, 20-inch polished wheels and special cabin treatment. The latter includes three-tone color schemes, unique upholstery with contrasting piping/stitching and exclusive wood veneers.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the Bentley Continental GT is a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged engine with 12 cylinders arranged in the Volkswagen Group's unique W formation. This W12 power plant produces an impressive 552 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Even more noteworthy is that all of this torque is on tap at just 1,600 rpm. A six-speed automatic with steering-column-mounted paddle shifters is the only transmission available, and it sends power to all four wheels.
Despite its hefty 5,180-pound curb weight, the Continental GT hustles from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds with a quarter-mile time of 12.8 seconds at 108 mph. Top speed is reported at a breathtaking 198 mph. Acceleration is a virtual dead heat with the Aston Martin DB9 and BMW M6, but trails the Mercedes-Benz CL600 by about half a second. As expected, fuel economy is decidedly low, registering an EPA-estimated 10 mpg city/17 highway and 13 combined.
The Continental GT comes standard with stability control, antilock brakes and side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers.
Interior Design and Special Features
Much like the exterior, some parts of the 2010 Bentley Continental GT's interior are beginning to show their age. A need for a refresh is most evident in the electronic display screen, which is small by more contemporary standards, as well as the non-intuitive controls. The GT's overall interior design manages to stay fresh, though, while materials and craftsmanship are beyond reproach. Metal accents, rich wood veneers, supple leather surfaces and near flawless stitching are timeless Bentley hallmarks.
Wind and road noise are reduced to near silence thanks to plenty of sound insulation and double-paned side glass. Front seat comfort is excellent, befitting a car of this stature and price, but rear seat passengers will find their quarters much less accommodating. Rear headroom is limited, as is legroom. The trunk's 13-cubic-foot capacity is respectable for this class of car, though owners are still likely going to use the rear seats for cargo overflow.
While the W12's 552 hp gets the 2010 Bentley Continental GT to full boil in rapid fashion, the massive curb weight is a hindrance when it comes to cornering. Other ultraluxury competitors outclass the Bentley in this regard. For touring in grand style, though, the GT will certainly satisfy, with its serene driving dynamics on even the roughest of roads. For those who desire a bit more handling prowess, the Continental GT Speed or Supersports models (both reviewed separately) are worth a look.