It’s almost impossible to sit in a Continental GT now without musing on its age. Previous to the Volkswagen Group’s overlordship, an elderly Bentley could be appreciated like a first-edition book or a vinyl record cover, the leather and wood absorbing time and patina as if layered onto it like so much French polish.

The GT, though, is far too modern to grow old so gracefully. Instead, it’s rather like watching an effects-laden blockbuster from the late 1990s: everything is recognisably in place, yet also now very clearly out of date. 

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The door casings are made from rather beautiful lacquered carbonfibre, but that’s worth about as much as titanium earrings on a hippo

Bentley knows this, of course, and so with the GT3-R it does what it has been doing for the past half decade and dazzles you with its lavish materials and fine craftsmanship. And even in 2015, it does that to intoxicating effect.

The cabin’s chief difference, though, is to be found directly behind you, where the rear seats have been plundered in the interests of weight reduction. But that paring down extends to almost nothing else in the cabin.

Yes, the door casings are made from rather beautiful lacquered carbonfibre, as are some of the fascia panels elsewhere, but that’s worth about as much in the GT’s case as titanium earrings on a hippo.

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Quite obviously, the cabin architecture behind it all – and the level of kit on top – hasn’t been asked to shed a solitary gram. Even the new, bespoke sport seats, dropped in for their additional support, appear to be the racing bucket equivalent of La-Z-Boys.

Except that nothing originating from the United States has ever been as well stitched together as these – the leather and diamond-quilted Alcantara being almost as satisfying to pore over as they are to sit in.

That, in a nutshell, describes the wonderful incongruity of the GT3-R: it’s trying to be at once plumped up and pared down. Entire swathes of tactile hide – some of it dyed a zesty shade of lime green – decorate the dashboard, and it’s all very nice indeed.

But the inescapable fact is that Bentley has treated its matinee idol to an injection of Botox, where some will argue that industrial-level liposuction was called for.

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