It may not look like it at first glance, but the Bentley Continental GT has been redesigned for the 2012 model year. Subtle exterior and interior styling updates define this four-seat sports car, as does its powerful 12-cylinder engine and all-wheel-drive system. A new V-8 engine joins the lineup, lowering the car's emissions. Competitors include the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and Aston Martin DB9.
The new Continental GT's exterior styling represents a modest evolution from its predecessor. The distinctive four front circular lights remain, but the outer ones are smaller than before, and the mesh-style grille they flank drops lower over the front bumper. The coupe retains the prominent flared rear fenders as well as twin oval exhaust tips that peek out from below the rear bumper.
Changes to the cabin are equally subtle, though the focus on luxury appointments remains with features like a leather-trimmed dash. There's also a new touch-screen in the middle of the dash for the navigation system, and the center console design has been modified.
The Continental GT's twin-turbo 6.0-liter 12-cylinder engine gets a slight bump in horsepower and is now rated at 567 hp. Torque is also up to 516 pounds-feet. Bentley claims the engine can accelerate the car to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds on its way to a top speed of 198 mph. The engine works with a six-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive system that now has a rear-biased torque split of 40/60, front to rear, to reduce understeer.
The new twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 is nearly as powerful as the 12-cylinder engine. It's rated at 500 hp and makes 487 pounds-feet of torque. Instead of a six-speed transmission, it works with an eight-speed automatic. The car's zero-to-60-mph time is 4.6 seconds, according to Bentley, and the top speed is 188 mph. Under light loads, half of the V-8's cylinders are deactivated to reduce fuel consumption.
Bentley also offers a more powerful, performance-oriented version of the Continental GT called the Continental Supersports. Available in coupe or convertible form, it's powered by a version of the turbocharged 6.0-liter 12-cylinder that makes 621 hp and 590 pounds-feet of torque.