Pictures simply don’t do justice to the new Bentley Continental GT. What is arguably not obvious in images is just how wide yet elegant the vehicle is.

Gone are the bulbous lines of its two predecessors and, in their place, is a more elegant and planted silhouette that melds GT proportions with sports car elements, such as the squat, baroque pose that can be seen from most angles. Also, the larger chrome grille further accentuates the wideness of the vehicle, while the crystal glass-inspired headlight innards have a jewel-like look to them.

I can go on about the exterior design and other elements, but we will unpack and expand on those in our full review in Business Day Motor News on May 17, so for now let me share my initial impression of the vehicle.

The new model, much like its predecessors, is powered by a 6 litre W12 twin-turbo engine that, in this instance, puts out 467kW and 900Nm to all four wheels via a ZF-sourced, dual-clutch, eight-speed automatic gearbox. This is the first time Bentley has paired its iconic W12 engine with a dual-clutch gearbox, something the company attributes to customers having asked for a much sportier drive than before, which perhaps also explains the new model’s sportier disposition.

Performance is said to see the big GT heave from stationary to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds and accelerate to a top speed of 333km/h.

Typical of a Bentley, the cabin is a work of craftsmanship where appointments of painstaking detail are mixed with the latest technology, including a rotating centre interface that swivels at the push of a button between the digital infotainment screen and analogue gauges.

The system itself is said to have been a very complex thing to design, having no less than 40 moving parts to operate seamlessly and silently, which is fascinating to see in action.

The rest of the cabin features swathes of quality leather, wood veneers and chrome knurling on some rotary switchgear, all done in a tasteful manner that will appease the most discerning of buyers.

Out on the road, the latest model feels infinitely lighter than its predecessors in just about every way, and while the vehicle still weighs in at a portly 2.2 tonnes, it feels more comfortable, thanks to the three-chamber air suspension, and it steers with more eagerness and verve as I discovered while hurling it through some snaking mountain roads in Austria.

However, for the most part, the model is a GT and it excels in this role by cosseting its occupants in sheer opulence, space and comfort, while covering ground at a lick that is almost imperceptible and only referenced by the scenery rushing past.

In a nutshell, the new Bentley Continental GT has not only retained its grand tourer character, but has actually elevated it into another dimension altogether, all the while injecting a fair amount of sporty flair to flatter the gentleman racer of the Bentley Boys variety. It will definitely appeal to the traditional Bentley GT buyer who appreciates opulent luxury, craftsmanship and effortless performance. To South African hip-hop artist Cassper Nyovest, who has the first- and second-generation Continental GT models, bro, this one’s also for you.

Bentley Continental GT

Price R3.4m

On sale date August 2018

Max power 467kW

Max torque 340Nm

Top speed 333km/h; 0-100km/h 3.7 seconds

Combined consumption 12.2l/100km

CO2 emissions 278g/km

Star rating out of five four-and-a-half stars