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Bentley Continental GT 2019 Car of the Year review

By Ash Westerman, 27 Apr 2019 COTY

Bentley Continental

A true heavyweight by every available measure

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If you were to contextualise the Bentley Continental GT in boxing terms, its ‘tale of the tape’ is so impressive you could almost imagine it being called out by a ring announcer: “In the blue corner, weighing in at 2244kg, punching out 467kW from 12 cylinders, and yours for $422,000, it’s the brawling bouncer from Brrrrr ... itaaaaain!”

Those latter numbers made this easily the most powerful and expensive car in the 2019 COTY field, but the dollar figure is only the undercard to the options list, which did this super coupe no favours in terms of value. The optional Naim audio system alone is the price of a basic VW Polo; all up, this particular Conti rolled in with a tag just over $539,000, not including taxes and on-roads.

Read next: 2019 Bentley Continental GT W12 review

It fared more strongly in terms of technological advancement. Thanks to Bentley’s place in the VW Group, the third-gen Conti is built on the MSB platform that underpins Porsche’s Panamera; its electrical architecture is a 48-volt system that supports active anti-roll bars, while its vast rear quarter panels are hydroformed from a single piece of aluminium. The revised W12 is also 18 percent more efficient.

Further, albeit predictable, praise came for the interior’s sense of occasion and attention to detail. The exquisite knurling of control knobs and the ‘organ-stop’ operation of the air vents were not missed by the judges. Although not everyone was enamoured by the taste of whomever it was that specced the test car: “I could live without the ‘Mel & Kim knicker drawer’ interior colour scheme,” commented Enright.

2019 Bentley Continental GT Convertible revealed

What was not disputed was its sublime refinement. “That cabin is so well insulated, it feels as though you’re in Maxwell Smart’s Cone of Silence,” observed Inwood. So yes, wind and road noise are brilliantly suppressed, and, at least until well past its mid-range, so is engine noise. The W12 delivers such silken, effortless shove, it almost seems to transcend the explosive principles of internal combustion. In brisk touring mode, it’s as though there’s some electromagnetic force involved, whipping the car along with barely an audible murmur. Only when really chasing the redline are you deemed worthy of enjoying the distant, distinctly different warble emitted by the W12 layout.

That whopper of an engine is now backed by an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, a choice which had several judges questioning its appropriateness in a car which puts such an emphasis on refinement. “Not as smooth in low-speed driving as it needs to be,” was the broad consensus.

MOTOR review: 2018 Continental GT

As for high-speed driving, that demands respect, purely because of the velocity-mass equation. The judges agreed that the chassis was deeply capable, but the strength of the engine and power-down ability was such that the car was almost always travelling faster than the driver might momentarily estimate. Really vigorous pedalling would see the chassis run out of compression damping on the plunging back section of the durability circuit, putting this judge’s eyes on stalks.

Ultimately, though, it was law of diminishing returns and punch-drunk-inducing options prices that knocked out this Great British bruiser.