Humanity has become less and less comfortable with imperfection. Our social media accounts show only the most manicured moments of our lives; automated manufacturing yields uniform products without defect; surgery and science remedy all but the most serious of ailments and physical incongruities.
It’s odd, then, that hand-made and bespoke goods like the Bentley Continental GT are held in such high regard. The same reasons one might criticize a mass production vehicle —meandering stitching, misaligned trim panels, and inconsistent power ratings — are cherished blemishes of a hand-built machine. In truth, the new Continental GT doesn’t have many tangible imperfections, but its uniquely coded DNA is palpable.
While retaining the imposing dimensions of its predecessor, the redesigned Continental’s re-sculpted body panels visually lower and widen the two-door’s stance. The eye is drawn to etched glass LED headlamps and DRLs, a finely meshed grille, ornate chrome trim forming the Bentley “B”, glamorous 22-inch alloy wheels, and sharp oval tail lamps to accompany similarly shaped exhaust ports. Contemporary yet instantly recognizable, the 2019 Continental GT threads the needle of aesthetic progress.
Exquisite interior details set the GT apart from everything in its class. Tactile delights abound with diamond-quilted seats and Bentley insignia-embossed headrests, veneer wood inlays that envelop the entire cabin, supple duo-tone leather that covers just about every surface (including the roof), and knurled metal finishes for each dial, vent, and stalk. Contemporary cool graces the traditionally plush cabin in the form of a tri-fold dash panel that rotates between three analog gauges, a large touchscreen infotainment, and a cohesive countenance to match the surrounding trim.
At just over 5,000 pounds, the bodacious Bentley is a few steps removed from lithe sports cars, but its torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system and potent W12 engine combine for surprising agility. Certainly, the new car is more confident and eager than its predecessor thanks to weight reduction and increased output (now at 626 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque).
Peg the gas pedal and the Continental GT surges forward without the slightest hesitation or hint of wheel spin. Cocooned from the outside world, you glide into triple digit speeds with only visual few cues to your present velocity. Wind, tire, or road noise? You’re more likely to hear sighing air from the massaging seat chambers. Curves in the road may have been the nemesis of the last GT, but this new model sure-footedly navigates corners at speed. While not oozing with steering feel and chassis chatter, the Bentley is difficult to unsettle.
Save for the occasional straight-line blast, the Continental GT is best enjoyed without tension in the shoulders or white knuckling of the steering wheel. Sink into its quilted leather chairs, cool or warm your bottom, set your cabin mood lighting to just the right hues, and coast along as if the roads are paved with memory foam.
The 2019 Continental GT is a brilliant reminder that humanity’s flaws shouldn’t be obscured. By embracing the imperfect art of craftsmanship, Bentley has created a vehicle that exceeds even our most polished pretenses.