The Bentley Continental GT is the finest grand tourer on the planet. Here's why.
When Bentley pulled the sheets off the new Bentley Continental GT at Frankfurt last week, while taking a couple of seconds to admire the coupe’s new design, our immediate focus was checking out the interior. The British carmaker is synonymous with building world class cabins, and with the third-generation Continental, Bentley has once again delivered a masterpiece of design and engineering. We saw a lot of cars last week in Frankfurt, and the new Conti was up there with the best of them.
Bentley’s Head of Interior, Darren J. Day, started work on the car four years ago. We managed to grab a few minutes with the British designer, who waxed lyrical about his latest project with a permanent grin etched onto his face.
There is literally something to say about every inch of the interior and, given the chance, we have no doubt that Darren could have talked for hours. The Bentley stand boasted two Continental GTs. One, finished in Extreme Silver sporting 22-inch wheels with a black polished edge, displayed the car’s sporty side, while the Rubino Red wearing a set of 22-inch polished alloys underscored the car’s distinct luxury persona and was the car we chose to take a closer look at the interior. Cocooned inside, the laminated acoustic glass shutting out the hustle and bustle of the show, it’s all leather and chrome, accented with stunning wooden inlays formed from 10 square-meters of wood that take nine hours to create and fit by hand.
Other essential numbers include: 1000 people to build each car, 100 man hours to get the job done, 10 cow hides, and 2.8-km of stitching. The long sweeping dashboard, mirroring the wings of the Bentley badge with a floating leather top that flows to the doors, appears as an uninterrupted single piece of wood with a 3-mm strip of polished chrome running through the center, tracing a ring around the cabin. However, with a push of a button, a concealed section of the dash glides forward and rotates, revealing a 12.3-inch MMI display. Another press of the button, and the rotating display spins again, this time revealing three analogue dials that display temperature, a compass and chronometer.
The idea behind the design was to minimize visual clutter, enabling the driver to focus on driving fast or cruising in peace. Don’t forget, at the heart of the GT is an enhanced version of Bentley’s 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 producing 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a rapid-shifting dual-clutch eight-speed transmission combined with a dedicated Sport Launch mode, the coupe can sprint from 0-62 mph in 3.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 207 mph. Bentley claims it’s the most advanced 12-cylinder engine in the world. So while we concentrated on the design of the Bentley, remember that this is also a car that match most supercars for performance.
Other unique touches on the Continental include the center console surface inspired by Cotes de Geneve, new diamond and pillow knurling and bronze inserts. The attention to detail that goes into the car is hard to get your head around. For example, some of the pillow knurling is inside the door handles. You can’t even see it. But you can feel it every time you open the door. If something can feel expensive, then this is it. Then there’s the new ‘diamond in diamond’ quilt. Each of the inner diamonds use 712 stitches. And not only that, but the diamonds gradually decrease in size from the front of the car towards the center, and increase towards the back. This helps with providing a sense of space.
This symmetry is another important aspect of the design, something that’s beautifully highlighted on the center console, where just below the dash, the words: ‘Screen,’ ‘Media’ and ‘Nav’ appear on the left, and ‘Car,’ “Media’ and ‘Source’ are on the right. Why use ‘Nav’ and not ‘Sat Nav?’ Symmetry, that’s why. Count the number of letters in each word: 6, 5, 3, 3, 5, 6. The craftsmanship and detailing on this car exceeds anything in the Continental’s class. Check out the video and see for yourself why the new Bentley is worth every cent of its 200,000 Euro price tag.