2020 Bentley Continental GT vs. 2020 McLaren GT

2020 Bentley Continental GT vs. 2020 McLaren GT

Two Sides of the Same GT Coin

In its most basic interpretation, a grand tourer blends the performance attributes of a sports car with the luxury and comfort of a luxury car. Alas, the concept has been muddied over the years by automakers sticking GT badges on vehicles that are neither sporty nor luxurious. Does the classic grand tourer even exist anymore? Having recently tested the new 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo and come away impressed, we lined up two more of Europe's latest exotics to find out.

On one side, we have the 2020 Bentley Continental GT, a big and heavy luxury coupe with sporting intentions. Its competitor is the McLaren GT, a supercar that's been softened up a bit with some added convenience. As narrow as the luxury grand-touring class may seem, these two choices are as different in their interpretation as they could be.

2020 Bentley Continental GT vs. 2020 McLaren GT.

2020 Bentley Continental GT vs. 2020 McLaren GT.

Price Comparison: Bentley Continental GT vs. McLaren GT

As disparate as the Bentley and McLaren are in personality, the specifications are somewhat similar. The Bentley Continental GT with the entry-level V8 engine has a base price of just over $205,000. The McLaren GT starts marginally higher at $210,000. Our well-optioned test vehicles were more, with the Bentley costing $277,600 and the McLaren setting you back $254,125.

The Bentley has a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 under the hood that produces 542 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque. (A 12-cylinder Continental GT is also available.) The mid-engine McLaren also has a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, but it makes 612 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque.

Bentley says the GT V8 will reach 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. McLaren counters with an estimated 0-60 mph sprint of just 3.1 seconds. The big difference is in handling, as the Bentley weighs a rather portly 4,773 pounds while the McLaren is comparably lithe at only 3,384 pounds.

A hefty dose of reality is dealt to both cars when it comes to value, however. Vehicles in this class are notorious for precipitous depreciation in the first three years of ownership. In most cases, the first owner will see a loss of value in excess of $100,000.

2020 Bentley Continental GT vs. 2020 McLaren GT.

2020 Bentley Continental GT vs. 2020 McLaren GT.

Performance Comparison: Bentley Continental GT vs. McLaren GT

The Continental GT and McLaren GT spoil the plot with their appearances alone. The Bentley is a curvaceous, chrome-embellished entity that looks like it'll go coast to coast without effort, while the McLaren is an angular wedge straight out of a Formula 1 garage.

On a challenging serpentine road, you feel all of the Bentley's heft as it shifts back and forth. But it doesn't feel out of its element. The wide sticky tires certainly help, as does the optional 48-volt Dynamic Ride system that uses an electric motor to add some serious twist to the anti-roll bars underneath the car, allowing it to keep body roll in check. It's far more capable than most drivers will ever need, while more seasoned pilots may enjoy coaxing even more performance from the Continental GT.

Put the McLaren GT on the same road and it barely acknowledges your attempts to find its potential performance. You'd have to commit some license-endangering antics in order to find it on public roads. The McLaren dispatches corners with heartless ease and zero drama. There's an initial giddiness that comes from slicing through turns at such impressive speeds, but it's so accomplished that it leaves little challenge for the driver.

2020 Bentley Continental GT vs. 2020 McLaren GT.

2020 Bentley Continental GT vs. 2020 McLaren GT.

Interior Comparison: Bentley Continental GT vs. McLaren GT

Bentley lines the Continental's interior with the finest leather hides, substantial metal knobs and warm wood accents. The seats are generously padded, heated and ventilated. (Want massaging? Bentley will throw that in as an option too). There are large cupholders, accommodating bins and pockets, and a conventional trunk that can easily swallow a couple's luggage and then some. It has rear seats that can somewhat comfortably hold a smaller adult as well as a rear-facing infant seat. A wide touchscreen controls an up-to-date infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, while typical advanced safety features and driver assistants add some assurance and relief.

2020 Bentley Continental GT.

2020 Bentley Continental GT.

The McLaren GT's interior is elemental, including only a few items unrelated to its performance directive. There is a relative abundance of leather coverings, though not of the same quality or craftsmanship of the Bentley. The flat-bottom steering wheel is devoid of audio or other controls, and two large metal paddle shifters clearly indicate this is more of a race car than a daily driver. The thinly padded seats wrap around you, keeping you securely in place. The vertical infotainment touchscreen is about the size of a large phone or small tablet, and most physical buttons and knobs are related to operation and performance. There's an intoxicating fighter-pilot seriousness about it as soon as you pull down the wing-like dihedral doors.

Because of its mid-engine setup, the McLaren GT lacks a rear seat. Its cargo area is split between a deep bin behind the car's nose and a long but shallow area that's between the rear hatch glass and the V8 engine. Neither space is particularly good at holding a medium-size suitcase. The rear cargo area can also bake whatever you put back there because of the heat from the engine and overhead sun.

2020 McLaren GT.

2020 McLaren GT.

Ride Quality Comparison: Bentley Continental GT vs. McLaren GT

The Bentley's ride quality is softer. It glides over imperfections in the pavement. The McLaren is appropriately sports-car stiff and transmits vital road surface information to the driver. Both firmly hold their positions of either isolation or engagement with equally pleasing results.

Even with over half-a-million-dollars between the two cars, there are some faults. It's easy to forgive the McLaren's noticeable tire roar, but the Bentley is oddly sensitive to coarser asphalt surfaces, producing an uncharacteristic amount of road noise. It's enough to interrupt the fantasy-world cocoon that otherwise envelops you.

2020 Bentley Continental GT vs. 2020 McLaren GT.

2020 Bentley Continental GT vs. 2020 McLaren GT.

Edmunds Says

If you're seeking the thrills of performance, the McLaren GT is the easy choice, though its bias toward athleticism compromises comfort. It's really more of a sports car or supercar when it comes down to it. If you desire opulence and relaxation with a decent amount of performance, the Bentley Continental GT is as good as it gets. In the traditional sense of grand touring, the Bentley better embodies that spirit.