Whenever it’s time to redesign a classic, automakers, especially those in the luxury business, must tackle a tricky problem. They know buyers will want the latest tech, but they want it in a package that stays true to the heritage into which they’re buying. It’s a quandary that demands a light touch, and where “less is more” may be the best advice.
Bentley took that tack when updating the styling of its Continental GT, the third generation of the two-door, four-seat grand tourer. The vehicle is a little sleeker, with smaller, sharper looking rear lights and more aggressive panel creases over the huge rear haunches; the headlights are multi-LEDs with cut-crystal looking internal surfaces that are supposed to look like an illuminated diamond; and the roofline is just a smidge lower. But crucially, the familiar silhouette still screams, “I’m driving a Bentley—and you, dear peasant, are not.”
Bentley trimmed 176 pounds from the old car by using lighter-weight materials, creating what they call a “muscled exterior.” They also relied on “super forming,” an aerospace industry technique that involves heating aluminum to nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and using air pressure to mold the new shapes and lines that make up the side panels and fenders. “It’s expensive and time-consuming,” says Bentley engineering chief Rolf Frech. “But that’s what makes a Bentley a Bentley.”
That, and lots of goodies inside the car. Hidden away behind the veneer of the dashboard is a new 12.3-inch display that rotates into view when the engine start button is pressed. If that’s still too digital for your tastes, the three-sided panel can be rotated once more to bring three small analog gauges into view (a compass, a thermometer, and a fancy clock). Whichever you choose, there’s still a giant screen behind the steering wheel, showing the usual instrument cluster, navigation, and music information.
You’ll also enjoy more than 100 square-feet of sustainably-sourced wood,…