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Luxury British motoring with sensational performance and an interior like no other, but is the 2019 Bentley Continental GT as complete as its rivals?

Say what you like about the British at the moment and a certain major decision that begins with a B, we know how to make a good luxury car. In fact, despite the VW ownership, Bentley has managed to remain as British as tea and scones. For better and for worse.

Having launched in 2003, the Continental GT was a hit. So much so, in fact, that the Crewe-based marque has only updated the car twice in 15 years. No wonder the interior looked dated. But then why be too drastic with the changes when you have sold 65,000-plus cars?

Now though, Bentley has brought the luxury grand tourer into the future. W12 and all. It’s faster, lighter, more luxurious and the interior technology has improved to the point it has night vision. So put down your Earl Grey tea to find out if it’s the best grand tourer money can buy.

Bentley Continental GT review (2019): What’s new?

Bentley Continental GT review (2019): Static front three-quarters

Rather a lot, actually. The exterior is more understated than ever, which is no bad thing. But make no mistake, the stares are as frequent as the rain in winter and as long as a mid-August day.

Some embellishments hit the mark better than others. The crystal-inspired headlights, for instance, add a touch of sparkle while reminding you of your grandfather’s drinks cabinet. Yet all the chrome is a tad American for our tastes.

Gone are the VW Phaeton underpinnings. Now it’s the Porsche Panamera, except Bentley was a part of the project very early on. Because it wanted to make sure it got exactly what it wanted, as opposed to an ill-fitting hand-me-down.

As with most cars these days, the Continental GT’s size has grown in line with the average waist line although it was never a small car in the first place. It’s still a two-seater, still a grand tourer and still really not that great for adults if they sit in the back.

But you do, however, get a somewhat useful 358-litre boot plus you can use the rear seats if no one is using them. Which is advisable when there’s little chance of getting more than two decent-sized suitcases elsewhere.

Of all the changes, it’s the 100mm increase in wheelbase and the movement of the engine 150mm closer to the rear that stand out most. The Bentley also now rides on a three-chamber air suspension system with the ‘Dynamic Ride System’ and its an electronically active anti-roll bar.

80kg has been lost, too, thanks to a lighter body and the use of lighter materials, which means the new 6.0-litre W12 stormmaker up front, now more powerful and more efficient, is even more likely to get you a speeding ticket.

Bentley has also modified the eight-speed DCT automatic found in the Panamera to make it work better in the 2019 Continental GT. Meanwhile the job of making sure you make it home alive for supper are 420mm front discs, an increase of 15mm.

Generating a frankly ridiculous 626bhp – 113bhp more than a Ferrari F50, how things have progressed – and 664lb/ft (900Nm) of torque, it’s easy to see why 0-62mph takes just 3.7 seconds and the top speed is 207mph (333kmh). That’s borderline supercar performance, even by modern standards.

It’s worth noting that the 2019 Bentley Continental GT Convertible is on the way, although it will be a little while before going topless is an option as the European launch is yet to arrive.

Bentley Continental GT review (2019): Is the interior better?

Bentley Continental GT review (2019): Interior, including the infotainment display and seats

Stepping into the beast, you instantly notice just how magnificently grand the interior is. If an Aston Martin is a villa in the south of France, the Bentley is Buckingham Palace. Despite the opulence though, it manages to avoid being as gaudy and ‘new money’ as Harrods.

Not entirely though, it must be said, because the wonderfully crafted buttons use the same shiny chrome as the exterior. There’s also a lot of gloss black, which is preferable but prone to blemishes from sweaty digits.

Earning loads of brownie points back is the centre console, which spins round to reveal either a large, intuitive touchscreen, a beautifully designed analogue clock or a stealthy continuation of the dashboard. A necessary touch? No. But it’s smooth movement and design is Michael Caine cool.

Elsewhere, you can see how the price tag is justified. Fit and finish is exemplary, the styling spot on and the materials used are second to none. There really is nothing as good interior-wise – and this is despite a couple of VW Golf buttons on the steering wheel. Yeah, I noticed, Bentley.

As probably the best interior of any car on sale right now, to say it has a few too many buttons would be unfair because it’s no hardship at all. If you’re coming from the older Continental GT models, you would have to be horrendously picky to dislike it.

Bentley Continental GT review (2019): How does it drive?

Bentley Continental GT review (2019): Rear end with the dual-exit exhaust system and rear lights

With the sort of grace reserved for swans landing on water. Its ability to smooth out roads is about as about good as it gets, although the air suspension does make a bit of a din when going over larger bumps.

Gaining speed, meanwhile, is effortless, as you would expect from an engine with the sort of stats reserved for jet engines. Not a lot of noise reaches the cabin, admittedly, but then the W12 grumble is still as satisfying as it is relentless.

Not that anyone who owns a Bentley should ever have to rush somewhere, the Continental GT is also very capable in the corners even though it weighs well over two tonnes. The suspension, though stiff, keeps the car flat and helps negate the sizable G-forces at bay.

Once out of the corner, all it takes is a couple of seconds of throttle and your stomach is mashed into the quilted leather seats and you are well beyond the legal limit. To say the car is fast is an understatement.

Braking is where you remember that you are in a car the size of Guernsey, although its almost bicycle wheel-sized discs and multi-pot calipers provide immense braking power. It’s more that they can only do so much before fade kicks in and you have to ease off.

Quite honestly, a car that is essentially is a house on wheels has no right to be so nimble and agile. Yet Bentley has managed just that. No wonder, then, the launch event took place at a circuit. If that’s not confidence in your product, I’m not sure what is.

Bentley Continental GT review (2019): Running costs?

Bentley Continental GT review (2019): Front badge and grille

Look, if you want a 6.0-litre W12 and all that luxury there’s a price to pay. Apart from the £159,100 price tag, that is.

A mixture of cylinder deactivation, improvements to engine efficiency and being lighter means it can manage 23.1mpg and my average after a week was relatively close to that. But single figures beckon if you push hard.

Being pumped out of the back, meanwhile, is 288g/km of CO2, which is quite a lot but then it’s not the worst.

With that said, it’s enough to put the new Continental GT in the top Vehicle Excise Duty bracket, which means £2,070 in the first year and then £140 thereafter. Plus the ‘Fun Tax’ on cars that cost more than £40,000.

Depreciation-wise, it’s hard to say. But a combination of the positive reviews, various awards, high level of quality and a dose of desirability should keep it competitive with its rivals from Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce, which is a plus.

Bentley Continental GT review (2019): Should I buy one, then?

Bentley Continental GT review (2019): On an empty winding road by the sea (bliss)

To say the 2019 Bentley Continental GT is a step-up on its predecessors is an understatement as big as the W12’s output. This is a grand tourer that puts virtually everything to shame in its class (for now, anyway), without costing as much money. Although a few extras can certainly ease the gap.

Quite simply, it’s as British as the Queen’s speech, as magnificent as her much derided golden piano, as comfortable as a luxury hotel bed and as fast as most supercars. Not bad for a car designed and built near Stoke-on-Trent.

2019 Bentley Continental GT: Key Specs

  • Engine: 6.0-litre W12
  • Horsepower: 626bhp at 6,000rpm
  • Torque: 626lb/ft (900Nm) at 1,350-4,500rpm
  • 0-62mph (0-100kmh): 3.7 seconds
  • Top speed: 207mph (333kmh)
  • Dimensions: 4,850 (L), 2,187 (W), 1,954mm (H)
  • Kerb weight: 2,244kg (55:45 weight split)
  • Fuel economy: 23.2mpg (12.2l/100km) combined
  • CO2 emissions: 278g/km
  • UK price: £159,100 (£205,640 tested)
Bentley Continental GT review (2019): Fit for a king?
Raising the grand tourer bar, the 2019 Bentley Continental GT is a glorious success and a poignant reminder that British engineering can still mix it up with the big boys.
Performance
Handling
Enjoyment
Cool-factor
Usability
The Good
  • So fast it hurts
  • So comfy it hurts
  • So luxury it hurts
The Bad
  • Can be very thirsty
  • Brake fade
  • V8 could be even better
4.5The Score

About The Author

Editor-in-Chief

Ben Griffin is a motoring journalist and founder of the website and YouTube channel, A Tribe Called Cars. He is also a contributor at DriveTribe.

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