Like an aging Hollywood star, the 2012 Bentley Continental GT has "had a little work done." This isn't a full makeover that makes the GT unrecognizable from its former self, just a little nip and tuck here and there. Frankly, before going under the knife, the GT was looking a little tired after spending the better part of a decade in the limelight.
Exterior changes are subtle, with the most prominent updates being LED running lights that encircle the headlights and a more pronounced trunk bustle. Besides the cosmetic work, the new Continental GT has also hit the gym to shed 143 pounds and gain a bit more athleticism. The latter comes from a slight increase in power from the turbocharged W12 engine, widened front and rear tracks, and new, lighter suspension components.
Inside the cabin, the general design of the elegant cockpit with its double-stitched leather and cool-touch metal switches remains, but redesigned cupholders, additional storage bins and revised electronics make it a more livable car. Buyers can also now opt for a classy Naim premium audio system featuring 30GB of internal memory for digital music.
Many of the GT's drawbacks remain, however, including less-than-accommodating rear seats and a portly 5,115-pound curb weight. While competition at this lofty level is sparse, the sleek 2012 Aston Martin DB9 provides more driving excitement at a similar price. The 2012 Maserati GranTurismo is arguably one of the most attractive cars among the bunch and rings in at $60,000 less. And while the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CL600 and its hopped-up AMG derivatives might feel a bit less special than the Bentley, their many amenities and more favorable pricing will be hard to ignore.
However, the 2012 Bentley Continental GT is a different sort of exotic. There is a level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that trumps even those well-heeled competitors. It's easy to live with and drive as well, making it a high-end grand touring car that's meant to be driven every day rather than just on the occasional weekend jaunt through the countryside. The Continental GT may not have been reinvented, but as with true Hollywood icons, a reinvention really wasn't necessary.