Bentley Continental GT Review

Some might say that having over £300,000's worth of luxury sports cars / super-cars parked on the drive means I have an amazing job.  So is it a fair review, a Bentley that has a phenomenal 600bhp being compared to the BMW M6's 550bhp?  The Bentley does 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, the BWM takes 4.6 seconds, so it's safe to say that within the first paragraph of this review we have established that the Bentley is quicker.  Woo-hoo, I've confirmed something that both manufacturers already knew!  However this isn't a verse review in the normal vein of verse reviews, here's the kicker and what this review is actually about….. is an extra 50bhp and shaving 0.1 of a second of the 0-62mph time worth an extra £70,000? 

Firstly lets talk badges; Bentley's are expensive, very expensive.   However, picture the scene, you're in a central London wine bar, the homeless and deluded city stockbrokers are all stood around, yar'ing and 'ahu ahu ahu'ing'.  When the penniless and jobless bankers turn and ask you the question 'so what do you drive then?' Even as a humble journalist, the words 'a Bentley GT Speed' trips off the tongue like honey off a bee's backside.  It gives you a very odd sensation. It's a mix of 'jealous much' smugness and out and out pride.  You see if you say the word 'Bentley' to your average man on the street, the instant thought is that you're minted. Lets face it, you probably are, Bentley don't have a super-mini or a family hatchback in the range.  If you own a Bentley, it doesn't matter which one it is, it's still a Bentley.  

It's that exact thought process that's the problem with one of the most expensive BMW's money can buy.  If the response to the aforementioned question is 'I drive a BMW M6' those that aren't car nuts have no idea what you've turned up in.  It could be an Estate as far as they are know.  Those who don't listen properly, well they just hear BWM and assume your in a 3-series (not exactly the jaw-dropping-wow-factor you were hoping for).  When it comes to impressing car boffins though, an M6 is a great way to start.  Its raw and brutal power never fails to impress, its handling receives praise and acclaim.  

So they're both pricey motors, but the Bentley wins the 'which one's going to make people think you've got the most money' prize. 

Handling is another matter all together.  The Bentley, considering it's a much heavier car than the BMW, handles beautifully, its graceful, elegant and when put into sport mode, an absolute monster of speed and tight corners.  However it does tend to drift wide coming out of hard corners.  It copes excellently well with sweeping bends and even putting your foot down mid corner doesn't faze the big GT Speed Coupe. In fact it's this style of driving really showcases what the Bentley is capable of.  Then we come to the M6, press a few buttons, tweak some controls, set the car up properly for maximum power / the best suspension settings and the M6 is without shadow of a doubt the better handling of the two.  Its poise in cornering under speed and its ability to hold the road regardless of how much you've just pushed your luck is absolutely breath taking. Tight right and left bends one after the other are handled without so much as the M6 breaking a light sweat.  This is a car that's been designed for maximum handling.  

The heavier Bentley loses the handling side of the review to the mighty German powerhouse.  Both handle supremely well and are more than capable of handling almost anything you throw at them. The M6 just makes lighter work of the load.

The more money the car the better the gearbox, or so you would think.  The Bentley has one of the best gearboxes I've had the pleasure of driving.  In Auto it shifts smoothly, quietly and without fuss, in Sport it feels like a race tuned monster, snatching gears with millisecond timing and precision, floor the Bentley in Sport mode in any gear and that wondrous box will respond by shifting you into a gear that will not only catapult you forwards, but also induce G-force strong enough to snap your neck.  

This is the bit where it all goes horribly wrong for the M6  The seven-speed semi-auto SMG gearbox with DRIVELOGIC, fitted to my test car, was without question the WORST gearbox I've ever had to suffer.  To say it's totally crap would be unfair, no wait it wouldn't because it is.  Regardless of how you set the car up, whatever setting you have the gearbox in, be it manual, auto or sport, its not just jerky, its akin to being on a rollercoaster, it grabs gears and changes up and down for no apparent reason.  Floor the Beemer and eventually the gearbox will decide to change down (if your lucky, if your not, it just wont do anything (and you'll be there looking like a right muppet). On long motorway journeys when it just sits in 7th gear without needing to change up or down its great, round town however it's so bad I nearly sent it back after the first 2 days because it wound me up so much!  There is hope on the horizon though; my contact at BMW assures me that they will be fitting the outstanding seven-speed M-DCT (double clutch transmission) gearbox, available on the M3, as standard very soon.  

So both these cars have outstanding performance, stunning looks, awe-inspiring road presence and both cost a fortune to buy, insure, maintain and run (combined fuel consumption for the Bentley is 17mpg and 14mpg the BMW).  Both have fantastic build quality and superior technology and design.  Both will do pretty much anything asked of them.  So which one is the winner? At this level of motoring there is no winner or loser, I personally wouldn't buy the M6 due to the gearbox, the only place it would drive me, is to distraction.  My choice would be, the GT Speed, its one of those cars that I'd never get tired of. 


(review taken from head to head "Bentley GT Speed vs BMW M6")