TOPSPEED: We Can’t Get Enough of the Rotating Display in the Bentley Continental GT Convertible

November 29th, 2018 by

As if the rest of the Continental’s interior wasn’t insane already

Bentley’s Continental GT is probably the ultimate luxury grand tourer that money can buy. Now, just as the British manufacturer is debuting the convertible version, we stop to take a look at the centerpiece, literally and metaphorically, of the Continental’s interior: its three-sided rotating panel on the center console.

It’s no question that Bentley outdid themselves with the new Continental. Yes, it’s still a massive lump of a car, and yes, you’ll never get everyone to agree that the smaller outboard headlights make sense but, now, the car feels more supple than ever while still oozing class and luxury.

The third-generation Bentley Continental GT was unveiled at last year’s Frankfurt Auto Show. It sits on VW Group’s MSB platform and it’s powered by a monster of an engine, the likes of which we hardly see anymore in the automotive industry: a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12.

That engine is capable of 626 horsepower and an Earth-crushing 664 pound-feet of torque.

An 8-speed ZF transmission handles it all and sends it down to all four wheels for an acceleration time of 3.7 seconds to 62 mph and a top speed of 207 mph. All that in a car that weighs 4,950 pounds. It’s a lot, but it’s still 176 pounds lighter than the second generation although the wheelbase was increased to 112.2 inches.

These numbers are all impressive enough but the usual buyer of one of these could care less about the power and the acceleration and the weight. What he cares about is that, when he steps inside the cabin, he feels as if he just entered a 7-star hotel that cradles him in the finest materials available. Indeed, almost 33 feet of wood is used to make the interior of each Continental GT as well as a unique ‘diamond in diamond’ leather quilt.

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What will actually steal your attention once you step inside is the revolving panel on the center console. Apparently, it was inspired by the mechanical surfacing of automatic Swiss watches and it offers the choice of three panels: a 12.3-inch display, three analog gauges or nothing at all.

The three-sided unit has tolerances of just 0.019-of-an-inch. Each panel is brought into view by one separate motion that involves a total of 40 moving parts.

The display is the control center of the infotainment system and, as you’d expect, it offers a billion functions. But, if you don’t want that, you can opt to spin the panel around to reveal three old-school gauges: one that tells you what’s the temperature outside, one that’s actually a compass and another that you can use ar a stopwatch. Finally, if you don’t want any of that to be seen by curious passersby, you can hide them by spinning the panel again to a surface which just continues the multi-layer surface of the dashboard.

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This all goes to show that even Bentley, a company with a storied past that holds true to its decades-old values, can move at pace with the times and bring an experience that blends modernism with old-school tastefulness. The team that is behind this unexpectedly harmonious blend was led by Darren Day. And they deserve all the beers they got up until now because the inside of the new Continental is a thing of beauty. Of course, it should be since the MSRP is in the $260,000 – $355,000 range.

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