Bentley has been changing in the recent years, quickly shedding the luxury-barge image and becoming more of a contemporary luxury car manufacturers. The last Bentley Continental GT was far from a super-sized luxury barge, it was light sporty and while it was still wrapped in bespoke leather it did have some character. The 2018 Bentley however, makes the old one look like a brick with Bentley's signature doe-eyed headlamps. The new car still gets the lamps and that comically oversized W12 engine, but the Continental GT 2.0 is otherwise all new.
Interestingly, it loosely shares its skeleton with the Porsche Panamera, aka Porsche’s MSB platform, which has been reworked for the big Bentley using a mix of aluminium and steel, the body panels are aluminium as well. In fact, sans the bootlid, most of the Continental GT 2.0 will be aluminium. The bootlid uses composite since it’s where the aerial and other receivers are mounted. The silhouette is lower and more sinewy, thanks to the more shapely panels which have been ‘superformed’, which is a process in which heated aluminium sheet is formed using pressurised gases rather than the conventional mould. The results are friggin spectacular.
The daft W-shaped 12-cylinder engine is still there, think two V6s running side-by-side, but the engine has been made a bit more polar bear friendly and slightly less opulent. It’s now got twin-injection and twin-scroll turbos variable displacement, but now it also shuts down half the engine between 3rd to 8th gear under the 3,000 rpm mark, start-stop technology and active engine mounts. It now makes a 626 hp and 25% percent more torque. That means while the Inuits will be happy, the GT will still be a firecracker breaking the 100 km mark in 3.7 seconds, and get all the way to 331 kmph.
More importantly, the luxuro-barge will no longer handle like one, the engineers at Bentley have been at it working on the active damping system as well. Moving the W12 further back, and dropped it lower so much so that there is only 1.5 mm of ground clearance under the engine. Sport Mode is nimble but comfort mode still has the wafty feeling that most Bentley's get, and this comes from a mix of the 48-Volt ride-control system, which changes the position of the anti-roll bars to adjust to the surface or the ride mode and triple-chambered air-suspension.