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2012 Bentley Continental GT (photos)

Bentley's coupe represents a high point of luxury, but in this 21st century, it must also compete in the realm of modern electronics.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 28 Josh Miller/CNET
The coupe version of the Bentley Continental combines extremely high-end luxury coachwork with excellent driving dynamics. Although it's a very expensive car, the cabin electronics do not entirely reflect its class.
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The Continental GT's design shows very refined lines. The headlights are neatly molded into the front fender, while the wire grille evokes its classic roots. Overall, Bentley eschews gaudy adornment in favor of quietly refined design.
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The only engine option for the 2012 model year is this W-12 6-liter, with twin turbochargers. For 2013, Bentley will offer a more economical V-8.
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Bentley puts an engraved B logo plate on the engine, although both engine and transmission come from Germany, and not the Bentley plant in Crewe, U.K.
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Designed as a GT, or grand tourer, the Continental has good room for two, with a rear seat that can handle another two in a pinch.
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The 20-inch wheels are standard on the Continental GT, but this one comes with the optional 21-inch wheels.
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A standard all-wheel-drive system ensures solid handling in wet or dry conditions.
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Bentley includes an adaptive suspension with four settings. But even in full comfort mode it retains a rigid character.
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Broad rear fenders give the Continental GT an impressive presence.
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The trunk has a small opening and is not very high, although it is very deep.
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The cabin of the Continental GT explains much of the car's high price, as it uses double-glazed windows to keep out exterior noise and natural materials for surfaces and switch gear.
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The seat adjustments here include the optional massage button.
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The rear seats offer very little space, and would not be terribly comfortable on a long trip.
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In the Continental GT, the navigation and Bluetooth phone systems are standard, but the Naim audio system is optional.
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The steering generally maintains an appropriate feel for the car's speed, although never overboosted.
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A small color LCD in the instrument cluster provides driver-selectable information from the audio, navigation, and phone systems.
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A six-speed automatic is the only transmission choice, but this one changes gears with a harder feel than a typical torque converter automatic.
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Paddles on the steering-wheel column allow easy manual gear selection.
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Bentley puts a Breitling clock in the center of the dashboard, an elegant piece that fits perfectly with the cabin appointments.
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The navigation system comes from Volkswagen. Strangely, it uses a separate map to show traffic.
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The maps, stored on a hard drive, display in 3D or 2D modes.
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The phone system offers all the features we would expect, such as downloading contacts lists from paired phones.
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A unique feature, this handset lets the passenger carry on a more private phone conversation, although it uses the paired phone to connect with the mobile network.
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The Naim audio system is optional, and produces exceedingly high-quality sound.
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Bentley uses Volkswagen's Multimedia Device Interface to connect iPods and USB devices to the stereo system. With an iPod connected, the car shows this music library interface.
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The iPod playback screen looks fine, but it doesn't show album artwork.
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Bentley includes HD Radio in the stereo system.
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The backup camera is full-featured, showing distance and trajectory lines.

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