Bentley’s designers have taken a piece of tracing paper to its Continental GT coupe and come out with what it claims is an all-new version of its high-performing luxury car.
However, spotting the difference between the new version and its predecessor will be a tough task, with the only differenced seeming to be some minor grille treatment and new metal work (much of it being aluminium) bolted to the tried and trusted, and very overstyled, look.
It seems that the new model shares another of its predecessor’s features: shocking fuel consumption.
The revised version of the car that helped revive the British brand back in 2004 will be available with the choice of an entry-level V8 or an updated version of the ripsnorting W12. A turbocharged option for the V8 will be made available later in 2011.
The original 6.0-litre W12 engine stays on, but this time it is equipped with a boost to increase its power to 423kW – enough to haul the heavy four-seater coupe from 0-100km/h in just 4.6 seconds and with a top speed of 318km/h.
This is particularly impressive when one considers that the Continental GT weighs more – at a mammoth 2.3 tonnes – than your average 4WD, and all that weight-saving aluminium has generated just a 65kg drop in weight from the predecessor model.
Other changes under the metal are a wider track to improve cornering stability through its 20- or 21-inch alloy wheels. The model will retain a six-speed transmission (many of its rivals are now using eight-speed systems) with its QuickShift system that halves shift times for improved acceleration.
The all-wheel-drive system has been changed to apportion a 60:40 front-rear split, aimed to give the car a more neutral feel and curb some of its penchant for understeer.
Where it is really left wanting is its fuel consumption, which we will generously describe as ‘thirsty’. The Volkswagen-owned company is trying to defend its stance by claiming that the 2008 model improved fuel efficiency over its predecessor by 15%, but that’s not the point.
When the car produces a best-case fuel consumption of 16.5 litres/100km, and an appalling average of 25.4/100km in city driving, it’s clear that if you can afford its whopping price tag, you’ll probably be OK fishing out the titanium Amex for the fuel as well.
The Continental GT story very much embodies the story of British motoring design in the 1970s: some improvements here and there, but largely standing still where it really counts. The minimal weight savings and engineering enhancements to improve the ill-handling car are one thing, but its choice of transmission and it not taking a more environmentally-conscious approach is surely questionable.
Could this be British motoring’s rival to the Hummer? It’s certainly looking like it!
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