2019 Bentley Continental GT first drive review: the stuff of dreams
The car responds to steering inputs like an athlete. Enabled by a new 48-volt system, active roll bars do their bloody well best to keep this beautiful beast flat through corners. A three-chamber air suspension at each corner with adjustable dampers ties the car down to the road in Sport mode and creates a smooth, refined ride in Comfort mode, despite low-profile 21-inch wheels. Bentley mode is a good compromise between the two, and the car is both sporty and refined in all modes. A programmable Custom mode lets drivers pick the settings for the engine and transmission, springs and damping, roll bars, steering, and torque distribution.
The car’s architecture can take some of the credit for its athleticism. It’s the MSB platform that the Conti GT shares with the Porsche Panamera. In its last two generations, the Continental used a steel platform adapted from the VW Phaeton. This time, however, Bentley engineers were embedded with Porsche’s people during development. That allowed them to get the hard points, length, width, and track they wanted.
The aluminum-intensive structure and aluminum body panels save 190 pounds, while the car is 167 pounds lighter overall. Balance improves from 58 percent front, 42 percent rear to 55/45 thanks in part to the forward axle position. In fact, the engine has moved so far back that the front driveshaft now runs through the W-12 instead of behind it. It also helps that the W-12 is 28 percent shorter than a typical V-12, which allows it to sit farther back in the chassis than the alternative.
These mountain switchbacks challenge the Conti GT due to its weight, though. Enter too hot and it will push forward as the physics of changing directions with two-and-a half-tons can be problematic, active roll bars and better balance or no.