Ahead of its debut at the Geneva Auto Show, the 2016 Continental GT and Flying Spur were unveiled this week by Bentley. The current body style, which debuted in 2012, isn’t stale but has faced some criticism in the automotive press for looking too much like the previous generation. It appears Bentley is moving towards a more aggressive Continental as they continue to build off of their motorsports success. Both the Continental GT and the Flying Spur have received more aggressive design elements as they’ve matured.
Starting on the outside, the new Continental gets more pronounced fenders and a smaller radiator shell. Most controversial are the new ‘B Vents,’ which appear just behind the front wheel. These B Vents have made their debut earlier in the teaser images released by Bentely for its new SUV. Bentley calls it graceful but it doesn’t sit well with this author as it brings up images of GM trying to sport up their Buick line several years ago by putting non-functioning, unnecessary vents in their front wheel drive sedans.
Continuing along the car, the V8S and W12 models gain new bright chrome badges on their front fenders to match those that have appeared on the GT Speed in the past. The V8 S and GT Speed models also received a new rear diffuser designed to further differential the performance GT’s from their brethren. The last appearance changes come from a new selection of 20″ and 21″ wheels and three new colors: Marlin (a rich metallic blue), Camel (a soft golden tone) and Jetstream (a light, bright metallic blue).
Bentley isn’t leaving the interior untouched either. Inside, the new Continental gets new patterns in the leather for all four seats. The Milliner Spec’d GTs receive a new small-diamond quilting pattern that Bentley says is “reminiscent of a tailored British jacket.” Driving controls are also updated. Your car can now be spec’d with an optional sports-oriented steering wheel and larger gear shift paddles with knurled metal embellishers. I haven’t seen these new paddles yet, but I think it is going to be a big improvement over the standard plastic shifters.
The interior is now completely lit by LEDs and the instrument dials and graphics have been refreshed and given a more contemporary look. The center console features a new black gear lever surround, which unifies the style of all the driver controls. Another interesting change is a new hidden storage compartment between the rear seats for storing and charging mobile devices as large as an iPad. The compartment is only available on the V8 models. Wi-Fi, however, is an available option on all Continental models.
Special to the GT W12 and GT Speed models is a new leather for seat cushions and backrests. This new semi-aniline hid is softer than the standard fare and represents the highest quality leather available in the market. Two new leather colors added for 2016 are Shortbread and Camel. For the first time, you can now spec some models with a color matched Alcantara® headliner.
Another big update to the lineup comes in the form of fuel efficiency improvements. You still want your Bentley to be powerful, but Bentley has to answer to corporate fuel efficiency standards. To satisfy both sides, the new GT W12 gets a bump to 582hp and 452 lb. ft. of torque, up from 567 hp and 516 lb. ft. of torque last year. Along with more power, the W12 gets a displacement on demand system that allows the big lump to run on six cylinders at times to reduce fuels using by “up to 5%.”
The Flying Spur, which received a make over last year, received some of these upgrades too. The new wheel designs, updated interior dials and steering wheel, and Wi-Fi are available here also. The Flying Spur gets three new paint colors, Marlin, Camel, and Jetstream, as well as the new leather colors from the GT, Shortbread and Camel. The W12 Flying Spur also gets a power bump and the displacement on demand system.
“We listen carefully to our customers, and with these new evolutions we’re making our cars even more stylish, efficient, connected and useable every day.” – Wolfgang Dürheimer, chairman and CEO of Bentley Motors
The new models will be unveiled and displayed at the Geneva Motor Show from Tuesday 3rd March, with deliveries starting this summer.