Bentley has a solution in the form of massive brakes. The car boasts 15.5-inch front rotors clamped down upon by 10-piston calipers and 15-inch rear rotors with 4-piston pinchers. If that much swept area and 28 pistons won’t do the trick, you are driving irresponsibly.
At the bottom of the pass the road signs change from German to Italian. The scenery is still idyllic, but the roads gradually straighten out into highways. It’s a good time to focus on the W-12 under that sensuous hood.
New this year from the crank out, the W-12 cuts 66 pounds versus the outgoing version, gets both port and direct injection, adds variable displacement, and features twin-scroll turbos. All that helps it turn up the wick on power while efficiency improves by 16 percent according to European measurements. Horsepower increases from 582 to 626 at 6,000 rpm, while torque jumps from 531 to 664 pound-feet and it’s on tap over a broad range from 1,350 rpm to 4,500 revs, reaching max output in less than a third of the time than its predecessor.
Smooth and commanding, the W-12 pushes the Continental GT from 0-60 mph in just 3.6 seconds on its way to a 207 mph top speed.
The W-12’s unique configuration—it’s essentially two VW VR6s on the same crankshaft—means it doesn’t sing like a V-12. Instead, it sounds like a refined version of a VW VR6, with the same burps and blats between gears. It’s so much more refined, though, that when the cylinder deactivation effectively shuts down the driver’s side VR6 in light-load conditions, there’s no telling what cylinders are just going along for the ride.
The power routes through an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, a Porsche PDK programmed for greater refinement. It has the urgency of a Porsche gearbox in Sport mode, but it smooths over shifts like a highly trained chauffeur in Comfort mode.
From the transmission, the power defaults to the rear wheels and, when needed, some can flow to the front. That's a change from the outgoing model that sent its power in a 40/60 front/rear split. In Comfort or Bentley mode, this version sends up to 38 percent of the torque, or up to 296 lb-ft, to the front. In Sport, only 17 percent, or 59 lb-ft, will be routed up front. That makes this Continental driftable as the 59 lb-ft won’t usually be enough to straighten out oversteer.
Feeling cheeky? Drift your Bentley.
The tour ends by crossing back into Austria and catching a charter flight to Munich. Breakfast in Austria, lunch in Italy, and dinner in Germany. It’s the kind of life a Bentley owner might live.
Would that I were they.
With a little help from Porsche and Audi, the 2019 Continental GT is sportier and more technologically advanced than ever while retaining Bentley’s traditional strengths of sensuous design and handcrafted interior elegance.
Is it the finest grand tourer in the world? Aston Martin has a legitimate claim to that throne with its new DB11, but the Conti GT is certainly in the conversation and I'd be happy with either. England is building grand touring cars that qualify as dream machines these days.
Set for the first deliveries next spring with a starting price of $214,600 in the U.S., the 2019 Bentley Continental GT will live its storybook life in Europe for almost a year before it hits our shores. It’s a shame U.S. buyers won’t be able to experience this type of European grand tour in their cars. Then again, customer who can afford such a beautiful car are likely living fairy tale lives of their own.
Bentley provided travel and airfare to Internet Brands Automotive to bring you this firsthand report.