Bentley Continental GT Featured

Superb expression of the marque's design excellence
by 21 April 2011

“To build a good car, a fast car, the best in class.” W. O. Bentley, Founder
Year: 1919
Occasion: The launch of Bentley Motors
Location: New Street Mews, London

“The new Continental GT is an automotive work of art.” Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen, Chairman and Chief Executive
Year: 2010
Occasion: The launch of the Continental GT
Location: Mondial de l’automobile, Paris

“To build a good car, a fast car, the best in class,” was W. O. Bentley’s mission when he opened Bentley Motors in a Marylebone mews in 1919, just as the golden age of automotives was bearing full steam. Unique for being almost entirely handcrafted, unique for being bespoke, unique for being the only luxury British motorcar entirely produced onsite: Bentley lays claim to being the most exceptional vintage car brand in the world.

“They call it a ‘design icon’,” says Robin Page, Head of Interior Design at Bentley, and the man charged with creating everything from future prototypes to the Queen’s bespoke limousine. For the Continental GT, Page and his team set out with a vision to make a car that was, “Sportier, more dynamic, more intelligent and more spacious, incorporating the very latest technology.”

“Why is it British? Why is it classic? Why is it modern?” were some of the questions Page asked himself in deciding which brands to reference during the three year process of launching the coupe into the next generation. He and his team took inspiration from British modern and heritage designers – from architecture for the vehicle’s mood lighting, to jewellery brand Asprey and David Linley furniture.

The Continental GT’s design isn’t just intelligent, it is positively cerebral. From the signature matrix radiator grilles to its ability to speed from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, it boasts precedent-setting functionality. Here, Bentley’s signature floating jewelled headlamps with LED daytime lights; there, highly advanced aluminium Super Forming creating the sculpted body and sharp power lines of the coupe’s sleek, crisp, contemporary facade.

Each of the Cobra design seats – wide at the shoulder, narrow at the base – comes in the softest hand stitched Austrian bull leather, which can be perforated to suck heat from the body and filter it out, like a second skin. State-of-the-art technology reaches from clocks that recalibrate from the internet at startup to the touch screen infotainment system with ultra advanced navigation and concert hall quality surround sound, courtesy of Balanced Mode Radiator speaker technology and Dirac Dimension digital audio processing.

For further enhancement, add advanced noise suppression technology enveloping acoustic glazing, under-floor shields and hidden anti-vibration panels. Luxury can imply many things in today’s age: a glamorous evening, the most beautifully crafted bed, an afternoon’s silence in an otherwise busy schedule. But few brands actually define the concept and set a precedent that others can only hope to follow as Bentley does. For voyaging by Bentley is a fully immersive, 360 degree luxury experience.

The iconic flying wings were famously born at a time when comparisons were mounting between the golden age of aviation and automotives, and are still ever present in the design today.

Eight miles of cable are hand fitted into every car. Sleek illuminated glass switches, chrome-bezelled dials and pop out hidden storage – from ipod cases to built-in cup holders and picnic-cum-dressing tables – add brilliant touches. Each seat has a state-of-the-art massage system and adjustable lumbar support that sculpts to fit the back.

Just as the finest bespoke tuxedo or couture gown will take several fittings and many sets of eyes to create, each Bentley may pass through some 1,500 pairs of hands, in the “low volume, high luxury coach building” process. Everything – from the famous book matching and exquisite marquetry to the veneers stained, lacquered and polished by hand – is custom made and authentically produced at the company’s headquarters in Crewe - after all, as the saying goes, the only plastic in a Bentley is the client’s credit card.

The Bentley dealership in London is:
Jack Barclay Bentley, 18-19 Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London W1J 6AE, tel. +44 (0)20 7629 7444

More Bentley articles:
The Bentley Brookland Coupé
The Bentley GTC Speed
The Flying B

Engine capacity: 5998cc; max. power 567bhp / 423Kw / 575PS @ 6000rpm
Max.torque: 700Nm, 516 lb-ft @ 1700rpm
Emission level: EU5 / LEV11
Fuel: 98 (95) RON
Continuous all-wheel drive; 40/60 front/rear torque split; zf 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddleshift
Max. speed: 198mph / 318km/h
Acceleration: 0 - 60mph 4.4 seconds
Acceleration: 0 - 100km/h 4.6 seconds
Fuel consumption: EU Drive Cycle: urban 11.1mpg 25.4 litres/100km; extra-urban 24.9mpg 11.4 litres/100km; combined 17.1mpg 16.5 litres/100km
Co2 emissions (combined): 384g/km

Kerbweight: 2320kg / 5115lb
Gross vehicle weight: 2750kg / 6063 lb
Boot volume: 358L / 12.6cu-ft
Fuel tank capacity: 90L / 20 Gallons / 24 US Gallons
Overall length: 4806mm / 189.2in
Width across mirrors: 2227mm / 87.7in
Width with folded mirrors: 1944mm / 76.5in
Overall height: 1404mm / 55.3in
Wheel base: 2746mm / 108.1in