Bentley Continental

GT

Bentley Continental GT W12, side
Bentley Continental GT W12, cabin
Bentley Continental GT W12
Bentley Continental GT W12, front profile
Bentley Continental GT W12, rear
Bentley Continental GT W12, wheel

FLAME Orange paintwork blending effortlessly with red and gold foliage and honey-coloured stone.

Cotswold villages in the autumn - there's no more picturesque and enjoyable part of Britain at this time of year, especially when you are behind the wheel of Bentley Continental GT.

If Flame Orange sounds like the last colour you would crave in a Bentley, it really does work - not in the least bit tacky, in fact very classy.

Once viewed as a rather staid brand only patronised by royalty and the super-rich, owning a Bentley is these days seen as fashionable and cool.

And the Continental GT is riding the crest of a wave, having only last month been voted the Best British Built Car and also heralded as People's Car of the Year.

That's saying something when a vehicle costing £159,000 before options - and our model had £33,000's worth of those - wins such an accolade.

But then this is a seriously alluring carriage; outstandingly elegant, sumptuously fitted out, beautifully refined and engineered.

Now into its third generation, the Conti is built at Bentley's plant in Crewe and powered by a 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 petrol engine mated to a dual clutch eight-speed transmission.

The car's performance figures are seismic. We are talking a massive 626bhp of wallop for acceleration of 0-60 in 3.6 seconds and a potential top speed of 207mph.

Need a race-style start and a dedicated Sport Launch mode delivers maximum acceleration through careful clutch pressure sensing and pre-loading.

In fact the engine management technology is so advanced that it makes a mind-boggling 300 million software calculations per second.

Despite all this the Continental GT is also a very agile and relaxing car in which to travel with its magic carpet ride suspension along with the reassurance of four-wheel drive.

Just don't expect any spectacular fuel consumption. Our own average return was just above 15 miles per gallon compared with the official figure of 20.8mpg.

That's even taking into account Bentley's Variable Displacement set-up which shuts down half the engine, running it as a six-cylinder unit, for better efficiency.

Move inside and you are greeted with luxury overload - soft leather upholstery complete with that distinctive Bentley aroma and perforated, massage seats in hand stitched diamond quilt pattern with the company's winged emblem etched high in the back rests.

One of the most polished features of the GT is something called the Bentley Rotating Display.

At first glance there appears to be no screen in the centre of the dashboard, but when the engine start button is pressed the veneer in the middle of the dash gently rotates to reveal a 12.3-inch high-resolution digital display.

Then a second spin reveals another panel with analogue dials for temperature gauge, chronograph timer and a compass.

This is in addition to trademark Bentley touches like aluminium air vents with their organ stop adjusters and chrome bezels on the switches.

As for cabin space everything is cosy and relaxing up front with room to stretch the longest of legs, though as a Grand Touring model the Continental is very much a two plus two but with the bonus of a large 358-litre boot.

FAST FACTS

Bentley Continental GT

Price: £159,100

Mechanical: 626bhp, 5,950cc W12 twin-turbo petrol engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic transmission

Max Speed: 207mph

0-62mph: 3.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 20.8

Insurance Group: 50

C02 emissions: 308g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

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