Cars and Calibres

Driving the Bentley Continental Grand Tourer in Gold Coast

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The Continental GT is meant for long distance, high speed travel in grand comfort and style.

You are told in business school to create your product name to be clear and communicative.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, as an example, tells you everything you need to know immediately.

C!, the car magazine we started a decade and a half ago, doesn’t. So what do we know?

This all came up for discussion because we were driving perhaps the best named car we ever have on the Gold Coast of Australia: the new Bentley Continental GT, a Continental Grand Tourer.

How much more accurate can you get? Unless you call it Trans-Continental. Which it could easily be what with the increasing markets in Asia that allow you to drive from one continent to another.

So, that is exactly what this third generation of a car does, and has always been meant to do: long distance, high speed travel in grand comfort and style.

Getting parts of this equation right isn’t all that hard. Want fast? Big engine. Want comfortable? Over-squishy Cadillac Limo. (Though no, you really don’t want that.) Want sporty? There’s a long list.

Want it all?

This is where the latest Conti GT comes in. It is, arguably, the most comfortable and smooth road-going vehicle we have ever driven.

The Conti GT is a most comfortable and smooth road-going vehicle.

Other vehicles may be softer (again, arguably), but the softness can come at a cost of stability and feel. It is taking advantage of several technologies to do this.

Smoothness comes from an enhanced version of the Bentley 6-liter twin-turbo W12 combined with a dual-clutch eight-speed transmission.

The two combine to keep things purring when you want them to, and growling when you need them to—all in appropriately luxurious tone, of course.

But then, that’s just the speed part of it.

A new adaptive chassis takes the 48-volt dynamic ride system we first saw in the big, heavy, and surprisingly tossable Bentayga.

Here in the Conti GT, with lower mass, it very quickly stabilizes the body movement of the almost 5,000-pound kerb weight car.

The levelled-up electric power allows quicker (measured in microseconds) assessment and response that in turn controls movement and lateral roll.

A three-chamber air-suspension works in support with this. The end result is a surprisingly versatile vehicle.

You can choose between three preset drive modes: Comfort, the default Bentley, and Sport; or you can customize with Custom.

What we found particularly interesting was, even within these modes, there seemed to be a wide range of adjustments the car would make.

In Sport on fast highways and curves, the car would be stable and smooth, yet turning off into a slow tight corner and getting on the gas again quickly had the car quickly reorganize itself to rocket (firmly planted) out of that situation.

The cockpit for the driver is luxurious and well-styled, but not overdone.

What seemed to define this car then was actually that intuitiveness and flexibility.

Of course, for the most part, being a Bentley, it will be defined by luxury—not just comfort, not just premium, but intelligent luxury.

Big screens too pedestrian for you? The center console screen will turn to show you real gauges. Or nothing at all, if you so desire.

There’s also the excellent finish of two tones of wood (one of which is new that can only be harvested at certain altitudes in Hawaii) and the metal treatments that are prompted by the techniques used in fine watchmaking.

One key thing about the new car? The cockpit for the driver is wonderful, but the one for the passenger is truly exceptional.

The way the leather and wood wrap around almost seamlessly and unbothered by the needs of a steering wheel makes this perhaps the best passenger seat we have ever seen—luxurious, well-styled but not overdone in any way.

The one somewhat negative thing about the car? They have shown how nice it can be to not drive, and this points to how autonomous driving can end up being an even more luxurious and premium experience, which can take away from enjoying that awesome suspension and truly sumptuous engine.

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