Bentley is celebrating its 100th anniversary (July 10, officially), so what better gift to give all its followers than brand new coupe and convertible models of its signature model, the Continental.
The third-generation Continental GT V8s (available only in North America to start, in fall 2019, then other world markets in first half of 2020) will get power from 4.0-litre twin-turbo 32-valve V-8s, each making 542 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque. Quad exhaust tips burble with a distinctive note. Power is distributed by an 8-speed automatic with all-wheel drive varying the torque rear to front, with the cars utilizing rear-wheel drive as much as possible.
Zero to 100 km/h takes four seconds flat (4.1 for the convertible), and the cars are capable of a top speed of 318 km/h. Bentley says that equates to a Grand Touring range of roughly 805 km on a full tank (though not likely at top speed), thanks to cylinder deactivation. Stop/start technology helps with fuel economy at around-town speeds.
An air suspension improves ride and provides a handling base, varying the on-road dynamics between limousine comfort and racetrack stiff, depending on what mode the driver chooses on the Bentley Drive Dynamics system. Further ride and handling improvement is provided by continuous damping control, electric power assisted steering and the optional Dynamic Ride adaptive chassis.
Evolutionary in design, the new cars present a more-sculpted look with sharper creases, more serious face with crystal-like headlamps, and redesigned front fenders adorned with subtle V8 badges. They ride on 20-inch 10-spoke painted alloy wheels, which can be substituted by nine other models in sizes ranging to 22 inches.
The convertible top can be stowed or raised in less than 20 seconds, at speeds up to 50 km/h. Six complimentary colours are available (the body comes in seven standard colours), as well as an authentic tweed finish that goes with just about anything.
The interior is a blend of natural leathers and wood veneers (such as new crown-cut walnut) in five duo-tone presentations and eight roof liners. For occupant comfort, 20-way adjustable front seats again feature a neckwarmer (of new design to offer better flow of air more quietly) to compliment the heated steering wheel and armrests.
The soundtrack is provided by a 650-watt, 10-speaker Bentley Audio system, and other infotainment features include Bentley’s Rotating Display, where a 12.3-inch display screen is housed in a 3-sided unit that flips it behind a wood veneer that can also display three analog dials.