Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

Bentley Continental vs Bentley Continental GT

LET’S DO THE CONTINENTAL Published: 11th Jan 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Bentley Continental vs Bentley Continental GT
Magazine Subscription
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

What’s in a name? Well, when you’re talking about doing the Continental, the answer is almost everything. When Bentley relaunched the Continental as a sportier two-door take of its Mulsanne it successfully re-introduced itself into a market it had long left. So the bang-up-to-date VAG replacement to broaden its appeal further was even more desirable – right? Well not quite…and there’s definite split between the two camps; traditional against the modernist. But what they both share is quite remarkable value for money.


The Continental of the early 1990s evolved thanks to a decisive split in character with Rolls-Royce after the badge engineered Mulsanne made its friends in the prestige market. The far sportier Mulsanne range was ripe for diversifying and a return to the Continental label was logical and was in fact the first dedicated model since that famous 1952 car!

The Bentley’s body was fabricated by Press Steel, the same company which made the Camargue, and based upon a truncated Turbo R saloon but with a bespoke interior design.

The uncharitable may say that today’s Continental GT is really little more than a Volkswagen Phaeton saloon in sexier clothes and while there’s some truth in this, you can’t dispute that the mechanics were all new. Where as the previous Continental was a rebodied Mulsanne, which itself had strong roots with the Bentley T (a rebadged Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow) of 1965, the GT’s timeline of a decade is a blink of an eye in comparison. Whereas the former relied on that stalwart Crewe-made V8, the GT wore an advanced W12 allied to Audi Quattro-style four-wheel drive and every other modern contraption you can think of.

Style-wise the newer car is the more showy, especially if some of the popular custom mods – which are a matter of taste – are included. The Mulsanne model looks the more cultured and dignified. We also reckon that the car won’t fall from fashion as much and certainly the car has fared better, fashion-wise, than the not dissimilar amargue which surfaced 16 years earlier in 1975. Both Conti’s offer a fixedhead coupe and convertible option but on the 1990s car this was better known as the Azure. There was also the very stylish special Mulliner coupe of which just 131 were made and the Sedanca Coupe which harked back to the old days although in the trade SC stands more for ‘soggy carpets’ due to the almost incurable leaks this roof continues to suffer from.

Much better received are the harder-cored Contis like the post ‘93 cars which gained more power and a new four-speed automatic box with shift management and adaptive ride control. The fitting of a superior ZYTEK engine management system just two years later prompted Bentley to also install a proper traction control system. But the meanest Mulsanne-based Continental was the T, which sported a four inch shorter wheelbase, fl ared arches, uprated suspension and massive 285/45 tyres to tame this 420bhp monster.

The GT, with its twin turbo 550 plus horses rarely needed anything faster but a 600bhp Speed offshoot followed in 2007, two years after the GTC convertible was introduced.

In terms of exclusivity, this Continental remains king. The GT was not only pitched under the prices of traditional Bentley models at £120,000 back in 2003 but production was cranked up to 11,000 a year so it was no wonder that the Baby Bentley boom quickly spread everywhere (in fact, if you want ‘real’ exclusivity buy the VW ‘Super Passat’ instead!)


These two Contis are decades apart and it shows on the road. The Continental takes its chassis from the 1980 Mulsanne, which itself was a revamp of the ‘65 Shadow, so the underpinnings are virtually half a century old. But for all that there’s little wrong with the handling given the Bentley’s considerable size and 5340lb weight and it’s a world away from a standard Silver Spirit, for example. Ditto the performance where 400 plus horses and an Olympian 650lbft of torque endow the Bentley with ungentlemanly pace that will embarrass many Aston Vantage drivers. The only main drawback is the firm ride and a very un-Rolls like creaks and groans when you expect some peace and quiet.

The GT is a thoroughly modern supercar and possess astonishing pace and poise from its superb all-wheel drive chassis. Make no mistake, the GT is an upper crust supercar-beater yet it also cossets you in supreme comfort and modern conveniences. Both Continental interiors are wonderful places to spend hours in and few will have any complaints on a long drive,  well all except those perched in the back perhaps.


Neither Cont’s will appreciate owners with empty pockets and make no mistake these are expensive cars to run. The older model benefits enormously from a better, wider spread of traditional Rolls and Bentley specialists who know the car well and so can contain the costs to Jaguar levels. Their simpler make up also means that routine maintenance can be reasonably affordable – say £300 – although work on the vehicle’s hydraulics is always pricey and a full overhaul at 90,000 miles will leave you some £2000 the lighter. On the other hand, their age benefits include classic car insurance.

The GT is a modern in every sense and while an increasing number of specialists are accepting the car (after gearing up their workshops with correct tooling and diagnostic kit), some stuff remains main dealer-based. The engine and running gear are reliable if serviced to schedule and no major issues have been reported, although maintenance is time-consuming and complex – like removing the engine to change a starter for example!

Service item costs such as brakes and exhausts are heinous as well. If a new set of brake discs and pads are required (they do get through these easily due to the car’s performance and weight) then you won’t see much change from five grand!

The electronic parking brake is known to play up and, as with most modern cars, the electrics can have the occasional wobble. Flat batteries are common due to the key sensor left too near the vicinity of the car overnight, for example… Also there’s the question of depreciation.

The GT is still too new to have levelled in terms of residual values. But this does mean cracking deals with Glass Guide placing an early ones just over £30,000 on the showroom fl oor and perhaps as little as £22,000 trade. Plus there’s so many around – in Bentley terms! In comparison, a Continental may have a book value comfortably under £15,000 but in the real world you’re looking at £30,000 for a nice car worth having.


No other Bentley polarises opinions like the GT. Many Rolls/Bentley specialists disown the car, mostly due to its parentage plus the hidden costs of routine maintenance. Two also informed us they had people buy a GT only to swap it in for the older namesake after the novelty wore off!


In truth there’s no real winner because it depends how you like your Continentals. Purists, and this includes many specialists, dislike the later GT, its rather unfortunate WAGs image and the fact that many parts proudly wear Audi hoops stamped on them! However there’s also a new buying base liking the good looking GT for its badge and brawn instead of the stiff upper lip reputation the older namesake clings to. And let’s not forget the sheer metal you can get for your money with the GT. Does this divide undermine a pair of fantastic Bentleys that are supercars with a difference?

Share This Article

Share with Facebook Share with Facebook

Share with Twitter Tweet this article

Share bookmark with Delicious Share bookmark with Delicious

Share with Digg Digg this article

Share with Email Share by email

User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Subscribe Today
Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%