Tuesday, 7 September 2010
I've just watched the live unveiling of Bentley's new Continental GT. A car that in it's original guise didn't really win me over. Sure, I liked the interior and the Flying Spur is still a car that I could get along with very easily, but there was something about the slightly boss-eyed nose and the Audi TT-esque rear end that didn't endear it to me.
Not so with the new car. At first there are few differences to note, but the more you see it the more you see what's new. In fact, every panel on the car is brand new. It's sharper, more muscular, and more purposeful than it's predecessor. The new, less rounded rear window puts me in mind of the Aston DB9, whereas the remodelled nose is somewhere between the Mulsanne and the old Continental T. The new bootlid - with a prominent bulge first seen on the current Azure - looks less downmarket than the rump of it's predecessor, and the whole thing looks both more upmarket and more aggressive than ever before.
The interior is much of the same - sharper, but essentially like the old car. However, I'm not keen. The interior itself is fair enough, but it has been ruined with the stupid 3 spoke steering wheel from the previous Continental GT Speed. Whilst less repellent than that in the Mulsanne, I can't help but feel the traditional 4 spoke Continental wheel is classier than the idiotically creased thing that nestles in front of any prospective new Conti driver.
Expect to see the full range follow suit; GTCs, Speeds, a Supersport or two, and the Flying Spur (The one I'm waiting for). New is a 4.0 V8 option to sit alongside the W12; a cheaper and more carbon efficient Bentley for those who give a damn about the environment. I'm sorry, but if you care about the environment you don't buy a Bentley, end of. The good news, however, is that because the car is lighter, it should both have a lighter effect on your wallet at the pumps and be a bit quicker to boot. Even in basic GT guise, I reckon this will be a 200mph car. Well, the W12 version, anyway. Expect the W12 range to start at about £120000, with the V8 somewhere between £100000 and £110000.
As I mentioned above, the one I'm waiting for is the Flying Spur. I sincerely hope Bentley don't style the new one in much the same way as the old one - which looked a little ungainly from most angles. No, what we want is a sort-of Mulsanne-lite, but with a six light configuration. It's not unfeasible to liken the Mulsanne to the S-series as far as looks are concerned. Right, with that comparison in your head, consider what a similarly updated S2 Mulliner Flying Spur would look like. That's what we want - Bentley, take note. I also hope that Bentley have taken note of the Flying Star shown by Touring at Geneva and displayed on these pages earlier in the year; a Continental GTE would be a fantastic piece of kit.
I look forward to seeing more on this new car; to be properly unveiled at the end of the month at the Paris show. Just please, Bentley, don't foul up the derivatives.