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ROYAL ENGAGEMENT

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Published on Sun, Jan 23, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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The new Bentley Continental GT with the R-Type Continental of yesteryear (John Grafman)

By John Grafman Few cars have been able to impress on nearly every front since the moment it hit the street like the Bentley Continental GT. A scant eight years ago the coupe was launch in 2003. It wowed all with its strong, good looks, and over the top power. And unlike many a Bentley that came before it, this is screwed together as solid as a vault. So, the question is, what’s not to like? Well, nothing! Nevertheless, time marches on, and all styles need to be refreshed now and then (even Avanti). So, Bentley took on the challenge of updating a classic. The result is not a huge departure from the prior model. Those enthusiasts will quickly pick up on some of the differences, and more casual observers will note something different even if they can’t put their collective finger on it. Dimensionally, the GT is a tad wider, and the cabin allows for a bit more headroom. The interior has some tweaks that have made more space available by moving the seatbelt restraints from the front seat to the interior door pillar. This means less structure in the seat, which then allows for a thinner seat, and more rear seat room. Magic!

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(John Grafman)

The interior has a bit more flair and more space. So added space has been carved out of the interior door panels. Also, a nice little case is also built into the center console, but can be removed for toting anything from keys to pens. This is of course created with a veneer that matches the wood trim on the car. The features that most will pick up in a glance as being altered will be the front and rear end. The forward overhang of the hood and grill really do stand out. The front grill is prouder, and less raked than the outgoing model. Similarly, the trunk lid with a ‘double horseshoe’ like the Mulsanne also seems to be more pronounced. However, it’s the form and creases of the front fenders that are so refined and distinctly read as being that of a premium auto. What can’t be seen is that the fenders are developed using aluminium Super Forming, a process that requires heating the sheet metal to 500 degrees celsius and draping it over a form that allows for deeper draws. This in turn allows a one piece fender that wraps much further down the front of the body. This is not the stuff of econoboxes. Unique jewelled headlamps with LED daytime-running lights add even more eye appeal. The rear tail lamps now wrap around the larger body. The track has grown with the body, 41 mm at the front and 48 mm at the rear compared with the outgoing model.

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(John Grafman)

The changes to the GT aren’t limited to the styling. The motor gets a little bump as well. Perhaps it’s just bragging rights, but the GT now has about three percent more ponies than the outgoing model. So, 567 horsepower coming out of the six-liter, W12 with FlexFuel capability knocks the 0-60 time down to a factory stated time of 4.4 seconds. That’s damn impressive considering the 5,115 pounds being toted about, and it’s good for four-tenths of a second better than before on the 0-60 front. Putting the power down to the ground is a continuous all-wheel drive system with a 40/60 rear wheel bias. Topping it off is a top speed that’s just two MPH short of the magic 200. So, there are changes, but is this a new car? The current Bentley owners seem to think so, and those are the ones that matter. The waiting list is already deep. It starts to become pretty apparent what’s going on here. The buyers wanted something new, but not really different. The situation is the owners of earlier GTs were plenty happy, so the object is to get them back to the dealer with a car that will feel very familiar to them. Yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And in the case of this car, that’s a very good thing!

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AT A GLANCE Type: 6-litre twin-turbocharged W12 Max Power: 567bhp @ 6000 rev/min Max Torque: 516lb/ft @ 1700 rev/min City Driving 12.0 mpg (US) Highway Driving 19.0 mpg (US)

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