The Driver’s Seat: Henry Catchpole on the New Bentley Continental GT


The new Bentley Continental GT is still under wraps for the moment, but Henry Catchpole has had the chance to drive one. The venerable W-12 engine is now consigned to the history books, and in its place we have a shiny new hybrid powertrain producing 771 hp. That figure makes this the most powerful Bentley road car ever. 

Creating all that power is a 591-hp four-liter turbocharged V-8 working in conjunction with a 188-hp electric motor. The former makes a surprisingly good sound, and the latter is capable of propelling the Continental GT in near silence for up to 50 miles. The torque figures are a respective 590 lb-ft and 332 lb-ft, giving a total system output of 737 lb-ft. All of which means the new car will do 0–62 mph in just 3.3 seconds, which is 0.3 seconds quicker than the old W-12 GT Speed. It still has a top speed of 208 mph. 

Bentley Continental GT rear 3/4 driving

Of course, this new hybrid drivetrain adds weight—somewhere in the region of 440 pounds—but with the 29.5-kWh battery in the trunk, that weight is now perfectly balanced 50:50 across the car. Combined with new ZF dual-valve dampers, a 48-volt electric anti-roll system, torque vectoring, an e-diff, all-wheel drive, and four-wheel steering, the new Continental GT is not only powerful it is also surprisingly fun on a slippery track. 

Bentley Continental GT Henry Catchpole

Circuit ParcMotor Castellolí experienced all of the weather during our few hours there, but a rain-soaked track certainly let the Bentley’s chassis shine. It was playful and controllable and fun in a way you wouldn’t really expect a Continental GT to be. Turn the stability control off and it will slide with an easy abandon. Not something we imagine many owners will ever do, but as there was an empty circuit and someone else was footing the bill for the Pirellis, it seemed rude not to! And given that a Ferrari Roma or Aston Martin DB12 will always aim to be comfortable as well as sporty, why shouldn’t a Conti GT be a bit sporty as well as comfortable? 

We’ll have to wait a few more weeks until the looks of the new Continental GT are unveiled, and we need to do some proper miles on the road to assess things, such as what effect those new dampers have had on the ride comfort. Will it actually achieve 50 miles on electric power alone? And will the lack of 12 cylinders be a turn-off in the eyes of the Bentley customer base? All questions still to be answered . . .

Bentley Continental GT trunk badge close up


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