Bentley Continental GT:

2008 Bentley Continental GT Speed: Refinements Bring 600HP

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Stunning Coupe Finds Enhancements for 2008
Bentley was among the notable brands bucking the green trend at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show with the 600HP Bentley Continental GT Speed, based on the 552HP Continental GT and also serving as our introduction to minor changes to the GT for the 2008 model year. In these days of extreme environmental concern, the extra power comes with steady improvements to both fuel economy and emissions. Five years on from its September 2002 Paris introduction, the Continental GT is still breathtaking. The 2008MY updates are mostly under this near-flawless metal skin.

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The updated range gets a new top model, for those preferring an even more spirited drive than the GT very capably offers, in the Continental GT Speed. The GT Speed, so named in homage to special Bentleys developed in the 1920s, takes tweaks to the shared 6.0L twin-turbo W12 engine to deliver 600HP to create Bentley’s first 200-plus-mph production car. The GT Speed’s 600HP may be the most inspiring result of this year’s engine modifications, but several apply to both models. The engine, whether GT or GT Speed, gets a new crankcase design, more efficient catalyst and exhaust systems, lighter-weight single chain drive camshaft, and a new engine management system and faster response cam sensor. The GT Speed also takes lighter-weight con rods, new pistons with anodized compression ring grooves, and a recalibrated version of the new engine management system.
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Bentley Continental GTC – $200,000.49

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Ah, the sheer excess of it all. This driving expression is less about the driving than about the experience. The fine folks at Bentley insisted that we drive their new Bentley Continental GTC – the cabriolet version of the popular and successful Bentley Continental GT coupe. How could we say no?

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Note the price of this particular car was $200,000.49. Staffers at AutoPacific and VehicleVoice wondered if they could negotiate down that final 49¢.
The Bentley arrived in an absolutely gorgeous Neptune blue with a blue soft top that turned heads everywhere it went. The valets at Mastro’s Steakhouse in Costa Mesa insisted on parking it up front and center. Guess the Mercedes SLR and Lamborghini Gallardo did not rate that night. Other diners “OOOHED” appreciatively and engaged in banter about the car while waiting for their S-Classes and 7-Series.
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Driving the Bentley you tend to be relatively sedate even though the car has 552HP and can come on like a freight train. It’s a car that can lump along in traffic with the occupants giving the hoi poloi the royal wave, or a car that can be pushed and driven enthusiastically. Punching the W12 powerplant (yep, the basically the same W12 found in the defunct Volkswagen Phaeton and the Audi A8) really pushed you back against the seat. The car feels fast and competent but cannot be called lithe and nimble.
Interior: Flamboyantly Upscale… Only the British Would Do It
The interior is an upscale mix of historic Bentley cues like the pull stops for the A/C registers to the beautifully finished switchgear, wood inserts and contrasting leather. The contrast of Neptune blue crash pad and upper door trim panels with the Magnolia environment was a touch of sophistication expected by British luxury cars that should be benchmarked by competition.
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Continental GTC is a Small Big Car

The exterior ambiance of the GTC is that it is a big car, but it is not. It looks massive and hides a massive engine, but the interior is relatively cramped even in the front seats. The windshield is fast to give the Continental and Continental GTC their knock-dead-gorgeous styling and does not intrude much on ingress. The seating position is a bit low for a car in this class. Once again a tip of the hat to this being Bentley’s sports car.
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