New Car: 2011 Bentley Continental GT

If you think this 2011 Bentley Continental GT is just a face-lifted version of the predecessor, you are forgiven. It’s the same thought we had when we watched the car driving towards us in a hidden courtyard at Bentley's Crewe headquarters in England. Indeed, the Continental GT is Bentley's most successful model ever, and when the company asked current owners what they would like the company to change about it, the overwhelming response was, "Nothing." And so whether Bentley liked it or not, the brand was stuck with the unenviable task of reworking what’s arguably become an icon—at least among the wealthy, some of the world's most critical customers.

Under the direction of chief designer Dirk van Braeckel, Bentley changed every single body panel and glass surface of the new Continental GT, but the proportions are very similar to those of the first generation. Upon closer inspection, the differences become somewhat obvious. Up front, the inboard lights are now much larger than the outer lighting units, similar to the Mulsanne’s. A circle of LEDs further emphasizes the family resemblance, and a crease above the headlights is continued into the side windows. The grille is bigger and extends farther down, and the lower front air intakes have grown vastly, giving a more accurate idea of this autobahn-stormer's potential.

The side view is now more streamlined, with the windows stretching farther toward the rear. Viewed from the back, the Continental GT appears sleeker as well, with a horizontal line stretching above a new, stylized diffuser. The trunklid swells with the hint of a spoiler, and the taillights are wider with cleaner graphics. While the taillights now stretch slightly onto the body sides, they no longer butt up against a panel gap, and this helps to create the impression of a hand-built, bespoke body. Altogether, the car looks more muscular and slim, as if the original design has been carefully sandblasted to reveal its essence.
Thanks to: Car and Driver


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