The cabin of the Continental GT is designed to make Bentley devotees and marque newcomers feel equally at home. Those familiar with the Bentley way of doing things will be reassured by the expanses of top quality hide and fine wood veneers; those for whom Bentley ownership is a new experience will discover a new level of luxury, style and effortless good taste.
Bentley is one of few car manufacturers to retain seat design as an in-house field of excellence and the particular challenge with the Continental GT was to offer a sublime seat comfort with considerable front and rear travel, a multitude of electric adjustments and integral seat-belts.
Those used to sitting in the back of most high-performance coupés will scarcely believe the thought that has gone into creating the rear cabin. Far from appearing as afterthoughts, the rear seats have been designed with the same care and attention as those in the front. Back seat passengers sit well apart with deeply scalloped recesses for their elbows, allowing ample personal space.
The toughest task facing designers of all luxury car cabins these days is to present the controls and information interfaces in a way that is both uncluttered yet easy to use.
Bentley’s solution is to use intelligence, common sense and ergonomic know-how to cherry-pick the best elements from both extremes, and combine them in a cabin that is both effective and attractive.
Most routine operations used frequently when the car is in motion – such as the cruise and basic music controls – can be operated directly from the steering wheel. Other functions such as the air-conditioning, navigation, computer information and more advanced entertainment features are individually controlled, but displayed on the same screen sited in the middle of the centre console.
All around the cabin, unmistakeable Bentley touches abound. Perhaps most easily spotted are the classic "bulls-eye" ventilation outlets with their organ stop controls. Then there are the stainless steel pedals, chrome instrument surrounds, knurled finishes to many of the ancillary controls, and the centrally mounted analogue Breitling clock.
The Continental GT is the first car to be fitted with a Breitling timepiece. Designed by Bentley after extensive consultation with Breitling to determine the correct proportioning, size and style of the font and needles, it features a classic black dial with white lettering while its hands are blood orange in colour.
Naturally wood and leather remain as integral and essential a part of this Bentley as any other. And while craftsmanship remains as important as ever, these enduring skills have been supplemented by some 21st century technology allowing, for instance, wood to be dramatically curved in a way that would simply not have been possible in the past. And while the leather is still applied to the car with the same loving care as before, it is cut from the hide using a new digitised process that ensures minimal levels of wastage and maximum efficiency.