The GPS says I’m rushing across a sand dune at around 180 kph, in Oman, a little country in the Middle East. This is where Bentley has chosen to launch its new Bentley Continental.
Exteriors and Interiors
The new Continental GT is similar to the old model, but the body panel has changed and has a fresher, sharper look. The grille is set lower and bulges out a bit. The headlights have dropped down to support the squatter, hunkered-down stance. The rear has a unique sharp-edged sculpture in the form of a ‘double-horseshoe,’ as the company calls it.
The GT’s mix of wood, leather and metal is more luxurious. It has a great Naim audio system with a built-in 30 GB hard disk. The seats are thinner and sportier than before, more legroom at the back but the two small buckets are still cramped for adults.
Under the taut skin is a finely honed chassis that is 65 kg lighter — sharpens handling and reduces understeer. Power from the legendary W12 engine is also up by 15 bhp to a colossal 567 bhp. The steering is sharp and responsive and this big coupé darts from corner to corner with great agility. The linearity of the GT’s responses is the key to its driver-friendly character.
Performance from the mighty 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 is staggering and there’s a massive swathe of torque in any gear. Bentley has continued with the six-speed automatic. However, the transmission doesn’t operate right. The distance between the steering and the mounted paddle shift levers are a bit much for people with short fingers. The transmission is mildly sluggish and there’s a lag during a sudden throttle input. The automatic too feels lazy to shift down from high revs.
Verdict: The first batch of the new GT is expected in India in March 2011. With a starting price of around Rs 2 crore, for those who can afford it, this is the best real-world sports car.
Bentley Continental GT
Price: Rs 2 crore (ex-showroom Delhi)
0-100kph: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 319 kph
Wheelbase: 2746 mm
Engine: W12, 5998 cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol
Power: 567 bhp/6000 rpm
Torque: 71.33 kgm at 1700 rpm
Front suspension: Double wishbones, air springs, anti-roll bar
Rear suspension: Multi-link, air springs, anti-roll bar
Brakes: 405mm ventilated discs (f), 335 mm ventilated discs (r)