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Bentley Continental GT: Buying guide and review (2003-2011)

Bentley Continental GT: Buying guide and review (2003-2011) Classic and Performance Car
Bentley Continental GT Bentley Continental GT Bentley Continental GT Bentley Continental GT Bentley Continental GT
When Bentley revealed the Continental GT in 2003, it marked the dawn of a new era for the Crewe marque under Volkswagen ownership. At first there were many who feared for the Bentley marque, assuming that the VW Phaeton underpinnings of this new British supercar would never be up to the job. But the critics were soon silenced and the Continental GT has gone on to become easily the most popular model ever offered by this luxury sporting brand, with a variety of offshoots also offered, including convertible and saloon editions. 
Far from those Phaeton underpinnings devaluing the Bentley brand, this is a car that has a superb blend of agility, comfort, performance and reliability – a blend that would never have been in reach without the clout of the mighty Volkswagen Group. The Phaeton’s platform also brings standard four-wheel drive across the range, so unlike some rivals, you can get the power down whatever the conditions – and you shouldn’t overlook the value of that added security.
Which one to buy?
Don’t automatically go for a really low-mileage car, as regular use is essential to keep things working properly. If you do go for a low-mileage example, make sure that the history backs up the mileage; these cars can be clocked. When you’re checking the history, see who has done the work; as specialist vehicles, the Continental must be maintained by experts. It’s worth going for a post-2006 model, as these feature some useful developments over earlier editions; Bentley tended to make changes each year, but didn’t always publicise them.
If the Continental sounds like your thing, there are few choices to make as all cars have an automatic gearbox and the same engine is used throughout. However, this magnificent W12 unit came in different states of tune and there are three body styles available; the GT is a coupé, the GTC is a convertible and the Flying Spur is a saloon. While the GTC is more costly than the coupé, it’s every bit as refined so you get the best of all worlds. However, despite their generous dimensions, the GT and GTC aren’t especially spacious inside, with rear seats suitable only for children. If you’re buying to transport more than two people regularly, focus on the Flying Spur saloon. This isn’t as stylish as its two-door counterparts and it’s more costly than the GT, but it’s significantly cheaper than a convertible while offering just as much performance and luxury, but with added practicality.
If you’re happy with an entry-level car – that’s the one with a mere 552bhp – you might as well buy an older example and stick a private plate on it. It’ll look just the same as a later edition, which is what you’ll have to settle for if you want a Speed or Supersports, as they didn’t arrive until 2007 and 2008 respectively. 
Performance and specs
Bentley Continental GT
Engine 5998cc, 12-cylinder
Power 552bhp @ 6100rpm
Torque 479lb ft @ 1600rpm
Top speed 190mph
0-60mph 4.7sec
Fuel consumption 16mpg
Gearbox Six-speed auto
Insurance group 20
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase 2745mm
Length 4804mm
Width 1918mm
Height 1390mm
Kerb weight 2350kg
Common problems
• Any car with corrosion or less than perfect panel gaps has been crunched, so just walk away. There are plenty of really superb cars available so there’s no point settling for anything less.

• The W12 that powers all of these cars is extremely tough, but maintenance can be costly because access is poor. There are no cam belts to replace but even renewing the spark plugs means a certain amount of dismantling is required. 

• Radiators fail and replacing them means removing the front bumper. A warning that the engine is overheating when it isn’t is probably because of an imbalance between the two exhaust manifold temperatures.

• Dampers aren’t prone to failure, but on hard-driven high-mileage cars they may be worn; as you’d expect, replacements are costly.

• Brake discs are a weak point, and hard-driven cars can get through them alarmingly quickly. Expect to pay plenty for a new pair, or you could upgrade to a ceramic system if you’ve got seriously deep pockets.

• Some cars are fitted with aftermarket wheels on ultra-low profile tyres, which tend to damage the ride quality. The standard alloys get kerbed and they corrode too, with refurbishment generally very costly.

• Tyres can be hard to find; standard GTs are fitted with 275/40 ZR 19 105Y (B) rubber. It’s essential that you fit tyres with the correct loading.

• The drains at the base of the windscreen (under the bonnet) get blocked up, leading to water in the fuel and air-con system. If left, it can short out the central locking too.

• The heated rear window contains the radio aerial. These have a tendency to fail, with the whole window having to be replaced.

• The high-level brake light over the back window can also fail, and dealers routinely ask for a lot of money to fix it – so check it works properly.

• If you need to stay in touch on the move, buy a post-2006 car as Bluetooth wasn’t available until this point.
Model history
2003: The Continental GT makes its debut, in 552bhp coupé form only, as the world’s fastest four-seat coupé. 
2005: There’s now also a four-door saloon, called the Flying Spur which is mechanically identical to the coupé.
2006: The most glamorous derivative of all is now here; the GTC convertible. 
2007: 600bhp Speed versions of the GT and GTC are introduced,
2008: A Supersports version of the GT and GTC is introduced, with 621bhp and carbon-ceramic brakes as standard.
2009: The Flying Spur Speed is introduced.
2010: A heavily facelifted Continental GT goes on sale; it’s effectively a second-generation car.
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.bdcl.org
• bentleyownersclub.co.uk
• bentleyenthusiastsclub.com
Summary and prices
Prices for well-used early examples start from around £25,000 today. Although there is always more risk involved in buying from this end of the market, there are good cars out there, so buy on condition. £30,000-£35,000 is a much better starting point though, and there is a much greater selection of cars available from this price point, including post-2006 models. The GT Speed models start from around £50,000, with Supersports variants coming in at about £65,000. 
Words: Richard Dredge
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Last updated: 12th Jan 2016
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    REGISTRATION DATE 17/11/2006, 56 REG, F/Service History, 2 Keys, Full Black Diamond Stitched Interior, Piano Black Inlays, Soft Closing Doors, FxR heated seats, SAT NAV, Auto Boot, Rear Electric blind, Rear Climate Control, Self-Levelling Suspension, Speakers, Steering Wheel Mounted Controls, Telephone Equipment, Upholstery Leather. 5 seats, Bentley Continental Flying Spur Features Air Conditioning Climate Control Colour SatNav Full Leather Memory Seats Rain-Sensing Wipers Satellite Navigation Xenon Headlamps Adjustable Steering Column Cruise Control Parking Sensors Power Steering Stability Control Traction Control Auto-dip Rearview Electric Handbrake Air Bag ABS Alarm Remote Alarm Remote Central Locking Privacy Glass Electric Seats Front Centre Armrest Head Restraints Heated Seats Lumbar Adjustment Height Adjustable Seat Rear Armrest Front Fog Lamps Electric Sunroof UK Specification UK Supplied Front and Rear Heated Seats

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