NEW BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT

Fifteen years on from the debut of the first Continental GT, this third-gen W12 emphatically extends the sporting luxury brief.

There are cruise missiles and then there are Crewe missiles, in this case a twin-turbo W12 GT that will eventually be joined by V8 and GTC convertible models. A familiar formula, then, but one that integrates fresh looks and new dimensions in performance and refinement.

It’s not immediately obvious from a stint behind the wheel but the Conti’s architecture is shared with the Porsche Panamera. This is reflected in a greater rear bias for the variable all-wheel drive, for example. The set-up is largely for refined grand touring, and that should read Grand with a capital G. Suspension comprises three air springs at each corner and active anti-roll bars that act fast to stabilise the body in the bends. There’s also torque-vectoring across both axles and a weight distribution split nearer 50:50 to cement the impression of balletic balance and help disguise the 2250kg kerb weight.

Default mode for the drive controller is B for Bentley. It’s the engineers’ best-of-both-worlds choice that sits between Comfort and Sport. The weight of the new electric steering is consistent across all modes and feels so right from the get-go that you don’t give it further thought.

The engine stats and acceleration figures tell much of the performance story. The twin-turbo W12 is usefully compact and benefits from direct-injection. Progress is effortless or invigorating depending on loud pedal pressure and there’s the bonus of a shutdown function for six cylinders when only six are required. What is most likely to surprise the man across the street is that the ZF auto is now a dual-clutch eight-speeder.

Given what’s gone before, you’d expect the new Continental to be extremely impressive, and it is. The biggest achievement has been extending divergent requirements to create what is clearly a more sporting and more luxurious GT car.

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BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT

ENGINE 5950cc W12 twin-turbo

POWER 467kW (626bhp)

TORQUE 900Nm @ 1350-4500rpm

TRANSMISSION 8-spd twin-clutch auto

DRIVETRAIN four-wheel drive

WEIGHT 2250kg

LENGTH 4.85m

WHEELS 22-inch alloy

TYRES 275/35 (f) 315/30 (r)

0-100km/h 3.7 secs

FUEL CLAIM 12.2L/100km

PRICE from $355,000

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