Bentley Continental GT | Part Eight

Bentley Continental GT

Bentley Continental

Safety: prevention is even better than cure

Naturally the Continental GT is equipped with the full suite of passive safety equipment. As well as possessing exceptional front, side and rear deformation characteristics on impact, there are two front airbags, four side airbags and two side curtain bags that, unusually for a coupé, run along the full length of the cabin. Seat belt pretensioners are used for all four seats.

Of course avoiding the accident in the first place has always to be preferable. To this end the Continental GT is specified like few others in the market. All-wheel drive, when correctly exploited, has colossal safety advantages in adverse conditions, while the latest traction, stability and brake control systems offer further opportunities for drivers to extricate themselves from danger. And of course there is the powerful engine and its ability to keep time spent on the wrong side of the road during overtaking to an absolute minimum; and should you ever have to accelerate away from trouble, few will do so more quickly than this.

Positioning: a unique opportunity to bring Bentley to a wider audience

At its core, the Continental GT is the result of just three things: first a deep seated emotional desire within Bentley to create an all new compact coupé. Secondly there is VW’s provision of the financial wherewithal not simply to create the car, but to do so in a way that gave Bentley a design, engineering and manufacturing lead over all potential rivals. But the Continental GT still would not have been possible without a concrete business case for producing such a car.

This case is satisfyingly straightforward and hinges on a clear gap in the upper luxury coupé market. In the past those looking to buy in this sector have had a straight choice between two differing breeds of car. The first was an uncompromising sportscar with minimal or no rear seat space and miserly luggage provision. Alternatively they could choose a rather more accommodating coupé, but suffer a commensurate reduction in driving enjoyment. For those who crave true supercar performance, response and style but need the flexibility of a car that seats four, carries their luggage and can be used everyday for all purposes, only the Continental GT will suit.

Although most of the 3200 plus people who have put down deposits for a Continental GT possess a number of cars, a significant proportion are buying to use the Bentley as their primary vehicle. Some 75 per cent of Continental GT customers are new to the marque.

The profile of the typical Continental GT buyer is also subtly different from the traditional Bentley customer. They tend to be younger, with an average age of under as opposed to just over 50 years. Men still buy many more than women, but their majority is decreasing from 96-99 per cent to a slightly more balanced 85-90 per cent. They are more typically owners of their own business rather than directors of public companies.

continues... | Part Nine
Published 20 July 2003 Melanie Carter

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