Bentley and grand tourers go together like Goodwood and motor-racing: very nicely indeed, with a venerable, tangible history.
Bentley’s first grand tourer, the 3.0-Litre, took to the stage in 1921, almost 100 years ago (Bentley itself marks its centenary this year, and will celebrate in style at the Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard this summer). The car took first place at Le Mans in 1924 and again in 1927, proving its winning combination of sporting performance and long-distance durability.
The first car to bear the Continental badge, the R-Type Continental, arrived in 1952. It was capable of 100mph while carrying four passengers. Without any motorways in Britain on which to experience this potent combination, owners set off across Europe on their own trans-continental tours.
The modern Continental GT, to which the new model owes its nascence, was the first car designed from the ground up by a Bentley company under the patronage of the VW Group, where it remains today. And now we arrive at the third generation, a sleeker, more poised example of the grand tourer, available in coupe and convertible form, and with a W12 or V8 engine.