2020 Bentley Continental GT V8
What a surreal blur the past half year has been. Daily life turned on its head, viral lockdowns and the biggest jolt to society in a century. The GT’s arrival coincided with arrival of the pandemic and provided a daily dose of lockdown luxury to ease the hurt all around. During dark times, the V8 provided some light relief. To retreat to its leather-bound cabin was to isolate yourself from the chaos, cocooned in a double-glazed Bentley bubble away from real life.
It’s been a strange juxtaposition at times. In my welcome report (available online, if you want to read the whole series) I wondered if driving a Bentley at a time of national crisis might jar – but it really hasn’t. While the St James Red paintwork and de-chromed Blackline specification might’ve looked good in photos, they did draw a little extra attention, but nobody sneered. In fact, the car has drawn largely positive comments from passers-by.
For this is a superlative GT. Our half year behind the wheel might’ve involved fewer long journeys than we would normally undertake, and total mileage a whisker short of 3k tells its own story. But as restrictions eased, we took the Bentley on a couple of longer trips to stretch its legs. And this is where it truly shone.
2020 Bentley Continental GT interior
The Conti performed admirably as a daily shopper, its large 358-litre boot handling all the shopping we threw at it and even weekend-away luggage for four. Those rear seats are perfectly comfortable even for tall teenagers and adults, so long as you compromise front legroom a little. We sought out larger parking bays at the supermarket, but the reversing cameras are excellent and, at 2187mm wide, its footprint is just on the acceptable side of daunting in urban manoeuvres.
But who spuffs Ј150 big ones on a Bentley shopping trolley? What I’ll remember the GT for are its eponymous grand touring abilities, demonstrated ably on longer runs to Goodwood and Dorset, family in tow, and this is where a century of Crewe tradition came up trumps. There are few finer ways to dispatch a three-hour journey: seats set to massage and chill/heat, Naim stereo banging out some mighty tunes, adaptive dampers set to Comfort… Long journeys pass in a jiffy, the languid V8 barely audible on a long motorway drive.
Yet turn off trunk roads and the Continental comes alive. It’s no sports car – and I regret we kept winter Pirellis on the car all year, blunting precision – but on your favourite back road, in Custom mode to tailor dampers/steering response/engine just so, this car can be hustled and bustled with the best.
When it clears its throat, the twin-turbo 4.0-litre musters a proper V8 cackle and is seriously quick, yet we managed to push economy past 30mpg at a cruise. Our half-year average was a more costly 23.2mpg (as near as dammit the official claim). Reliability was excellent (as it should be after just 3000 miles of pottering) and build quality was faultless. Only a small bit of carpet trim coming adrift from the bootlid caused any concern, but I was left impressed by the way they build cars in Crewe.
The virus is still with us, but the Continental isn’t. We’re missing it already and would wholeheartedly recommend one, should you have a GT-shaped hole in your garage and a spare Ј1700 or so in your PCP piggy bank each month. With its third generation it’s matured into a mighty fine all-rounder. And the cheapest two-door Bentley is all you need – we’d pick the V8 over the W12.