Towards the end of last year, The Art of Luxury was invited to visit Jack Barclay Bentley, operated by H.R. Owen, Britain’s leading luxury motor dealer group. The reason for the visit was firstly to experience the new Continental GT, but also to observe the beautifully refurbished showroom which was completed earlier this year.
The showroom is situated in Mayfair’s famous Berkeley Square and has managed to retain many of the features from the original 1953 showroom when the company first took up residence. One such feature is the original brass-handled showroom doors, which you can’t help but notice when you first walk in. The whole entry experience exudes a longstanding class that is impossible to replicate, much like the cars they showcase. After introductions and a welcome drink served at a remarkably beautiful central bar which is trimmed in luxurious Bentley leather, our car arrived.
One thing always becomes apparent – no matter how many times you drive a car of such prestige, your heart will go into overdrive every time at the sheer excitement that is about to follow. This time was no exception.
The Bentley Continental GT
The first thing that caught my eye were the glistening headlamps shining with an almost diamond like appearance – which was of course no accident. The Continental GT uses the latest LED Matrix technology, this can be seen in the internal surfaces of the head lamp which have been cut to mimic the sharp defined edges of a diamond.
The body shape looks incredibly muscular, partly due to the body panels being crafted using ‘Super Formed’ technology. The result allows designers to create far more complex, sharply defined body lines. The wheels were also 135mm further forward and the Bentley also featured an extended bonnet and a lowered nose meaning the car sits at a much more aggressive angle than its predecessor. I like to imagine that if a being from another planet were to try and understand what it is they are looking at, the design and ‘power line’ travelling from the headlights to the muscular rear haunch would give away its power and speed – almost like an Olympic sprinter ready to explode in the starting block!
Upon opening the door, the expert craftsmanship really makes itself clear. Greeting you is a truly luxury interior using the highest-quality natural leather and rare sustainable sourced veneers. 10 square meters of wood are used in each Continental GT, taking 9 hours to create and fit. All of this is then tied together with hand-polished chrome detailing. The level of detail extends to the organ stoppers used to control the climate with diamond knurling which has also been used to finish the other vents and bezels that adorn the dashboard.
“Diamond on Diamond” quilt – that’s the name Bentley have given to the new stitching pattern that features on both the seats and the doors. As a quick aside, the seats are 20-way adjustable, with cooling, heating and massage functions. Eighteen months were spent developing the embroidery, individually optimising and programming the exact alignment of each one of the 712 stiches that make up each diamond shape. It’s details like this that allow Bentley to hold their reputation of luxury.
Due to the drive being in central London, I never truly got to experience the versatility of the car, which was a shame as I was eager to really feel the almost unrivalled power a car of this size and weight offers. It was clear that the car was rearing to be let loose and with sport mode activated heads were turning. If you wish to hear the sheer power that is available, there are plenty of videos online showing just how rapid the Continental GT is when un-caged. All of this is made possible by the enhanced version of Bentley’s peerless 6.0-litre, W12 TSI engine that sets a new benchmark in performance. Designed, developed and hand built in Crewe, the W12 TSI Engine is the most advanced 21-cylinder engine in the world. The unique ‘W’ configuration means the engine is 24 per cent shorter than an equivalent v12, benefitting weight distribution and maximising usable cabin space. This means that the car produces 626 bhp, with an acceleration speed of 0-60 mph in only 3.6 seconds.
Bentley have managed to produce a car which is capable of everything you can throw at it. Whether that be driving at 50 degrees Celsius in Death Valley, driving over frozen lakes and snow in Sweden, attending an evening dinner party, or even pushing it to the limit at a track day. The new Bentley Continental GT has left a strong lasting impression on me, one off class, refinement, power and craftmanship… and what a feeling that is.
All photos by Joe Stokes Photography.