2011 Bentley Continental GT

From behind the wheel, the new Continental GT is almost an exact replay. The mechanical package is little changed -- the suspension is massaged, the all-wheel-drive system is tweaked for more rear bias, and the deep-voiced twelve-cylinder engine provides a bit more torque. Will you feel the new Bentley's 143-pound weight loss? Not likely, since the car still tops two-and-a-half tons. But with 516 pound-feet of torque at the ready, the car's tremendous mass certainly doesn't slow it down.

Speaking of slowing down, one unique driving characteristic of this car is the action of the oval, B-embossed brake pedal; its long, springy travel is unlike most modern cars' but somehow seems exactly right for a British luxury car. The same goes for the throttle action. There's no jumpy throttle response here; a long travel allows graceful starts, but bury your foot in it and you'll never feel that the Continental's reaction is languid.

In fact, the speed with which this massive coupe rushes forward makes wherever you are suddenly feel smaller. New York City's northern suburbs, where I live, sure felt that way whenever I dipped into the Continental GT's deep power reserves. This is a car that wants space. Space to allow you to mash the throttle for more than a few seconds at a time. Space to let you wind the big W-12 up the tach. Space to feel the rush of scenery pass by at the easily attainable triple-digit speeds. None of that is much changed from the way the Continental GT has always been. Mass, torque, and speed are very much a part of this car's formula. The 2012 version continues to play those same strengths.

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