By on September 15, 2008

Nobody in their right mind pays $200k for a car. Yes, I’ve seen the Producers (when you got it flaunt it baby!) And I know some people have enough “it” to drop a couple of hundred grand on a car without asking for their change in GTIs. But even if copious lottery winnings could overcome my ethnic aversion to pissing away large amounts of money, I would still think twice about spending that kind of money on the Bentley Continental GT Speed.

Even before we take a hit of Speed, it should be remembered that Bentley returned from the grave by sexing-up the stillborn VW Phaeton to appeal to wealthy buyers in the financial sweet spot: $150k. The Continental GT was/is more exclusive than a top-line Porsche or Mercedes, for not a lot more money. By jumping the $200k barrier, Bentley’s playing a whole new ballgame.

A new, “entry-level” Ferrari F430 clocks-in at $173k. In theory. If practice you have to either pay a premium for a used one or wheedle your way onto a dealer’s waiting list (buying a new Maserati or older Ferrari helps) and dig in for a couple of seasons or four. Iridium Amex or no, Modena’s famous aim remains: make one fewer car than demand requires. They’ve got the $200k market by the family jewels.

And why not? Ferraris look, smell and drive like Ferraris. They have genuine character. Same goes for other cars in this price bracket. An Aston Martin is head swivellingly gorgeous; a four-wheeled Monica Bellucci. Lamborghinis are twisted and evil and haughty. They make me angry, which is why I love them. The interior of the Maserati Quattroporte makes me want to dress better. In a Porsche 911 Turbo even you, whoever you are, can drive 175 miles an hour. Me too.

And that brings us, finally, to the Bentley Continental GT Speed.

On one hand, the big Bentley does what a $200k car with the name “Speed” must: go fast. With a gargantuan twelve cylinder engine displacing 6.0-liters with twin turbochargers, the Speed version of the Conti in GT trim cranks out 600 horsepower. That’s a lot of ponies, even for a two-plus-two that weighs some 5k pounds. Enough gas-gargling go to propel the Anglo-German monster from zero to sixty in 4.5 seconds.

And then there’s the Speed’s party trick: the leather-lined leviathan can pass 200 miles an hour, as no doubt verified via a shaky-cam documentary by some very wealthy, very stupid Russian oligarch on YouTube. By the same token, American Speed owners can talk about going 200 miles per hour while cruising to the country club for tee time.

On the other hand, so what? Yes, the Speed’s forward pace is a rush– though any real sports car at 30 percent of the cost (and half the weight) would shame you at a stoplight. But that’s so… jejune. More importantly, and disappointingly, Bentley’s beast handles no more than competently, as a trillion dollar suspension and all wheel-drive go into battle against 5200 lbs and something called “gravity.”

The steering is vague, and the transmission is stupid. It gets away with being so dumb-witted because the engine is such a circus. Sure, Tiptronic control of the transmission is available. But if you cared, you wouldn’t buy this car. I’d go on, but there’s no reason. It’s too boring. The Bentley Continental GT Speed drives like a Ford Flex.

The Speed gets away with being so dim-witted simply because of the badge and the engine. But it’s not enough, because the Bentley’s a badly executed car.

The Speed’s full leather interior with cross contrasting stitching (a $3300 option) felt coarse and looked putrid in my test car. The Speed has as many electronics as Captain Mike’s AWACS plane. But the gadgets are all several years out of date, anchored by an all-in-one LCD screen for operating the radio, HVAC, and navigation system that was objectively rotten. The grand touring promise that should be inherent in such a titanic coupe is broken by back seats that are too small for adults.

The Bentley Continental GT and its variants are this car era’s Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan: popular, famous and desirable because they are considered popular, famous and desirable. At the up-close level, a point-of-view most of us will never see, the car, like the tabloid celebrities, is bland and poorly finished. Shallow and average.

Bentley has rich history, but rather than follow BMW’s lead with Rolls-Royce and fashion something truly bespoke, original and remarkable, Volkswagen has guided Bentley into making as much money as quickly as possible. At some point in the next few years, just like Paris or Lindsay, even latter day fans of the resurrected brand are going to tire of Bentley and its Continental GT and move on.

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68 Comments on “Bentley Continental GT Speed Review...”


  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    “Bentley has rich history, but rather than follow BMW’s lead with Rolls-Royce and fashion something truly bespoke, original and remarkable, Volkswagen has guided Bentley into making as much money as quickly as possible.”

    I’m sorry, Justin, while I understand what you’re saying about the Bentley, there’s there’s just no way I can consider any Rolls Royce developed under VW as anything other than garish and butt ugly. The crew from Wolfsburg just doesn’t get these things. In terms of exterior styling, the Bentleys have got Rolls Royce beat hands down.

    Steve

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @Steve Biro:

    Two things. First, as you probably know and just forgot for a second while typing, BMW makes Rolls Royces these days.

    Second, while you find it ugly (the Rolls) it DOES have a sense of occasion and a world class interior. While the Bentley is merely pedestrian in all ways besides price.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Don’t know why, but I’ve always liked RR better than Bentley. At least with the RR, BMW keeps things in perspective. RR cars were always enormous, in-your-face cars drove well. But with Bentleys (the VW-era models) all i see is a gussied up VW Phaeton.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    The XJ has more personality than this car, and while the Jag is 1/6th of the cost and has worse leather, it’d take it over this gaudy thing.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Why does it even have a shift lever?

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    It should be half again as expensive and truly bespoke. And 6.0l is not gargantuan, that is the minimum allowable displacement (turbos notwithstanding) for a car with Betleyesque aspirations.

  • avatar
    AKM

    a four-wheeled Monica Bellucci.

    Justin, thank you for adding references to that Goddess in every possible article you write!

    The Bentley Continental GT and its variants are this car era’s Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan: popular, famous and desirable because they are considered popular, famous and desirable. At the up-close level, a point-of-view most of us will never see, the car, like the tabloid celebrities, is bland and poorly finished. Shallow and average.

    That is a brilliant paragraph. Sums up not only the car and the starlets, but pretty much our whole era.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    For the past 6 decades Bentley has come to represent the “performance” Rolls. Massive in all respects but it would never be mistaken for a sports car. It was to laugh.
    VW doesn’t have that heritage. It went for the “nouveau riche peoplescar” instead. Not how fast or high performance but do you look marvelous in this? Its playground isn’t Brooklands but Rodeo Dr. and the LA freeway. At 5 mph it looks good, it feels ok and you look marvelous.
    That’s why, of all the Germans, VW is probably the most successful in its market, at least on a per unit basis.
    The biggest issue will be how can they keep the cachet but update the design to something fresh and desired. It’ll be interesting to watch since it looks like BMW is allowing RR to become a parody of itself through its customizing programs — the customer is NOT always right and MB has gone adrift with Maybach — wouldn’t you rather have an MB instead?

  • avatar
    netrun

    I thought this was supposed to be a site that tells it like it is about the cars? After 312 words we start hearing about the car. With only 800 words to play with, that’s a lot (to me).

    Ok, the car is boring and the trans is stupid. Examples? More detail? What does it do when you hit the gas at 20mph? 60mph? 120mph?

    The poor finish – is it the panel gaps? Poor quality materials? There’s lots of conclusions but not the information that they’re based on.

    (sigh)

    A guy down the street from where I work drives the older, dated model as his commuter. It looks freakin’ awesome.

  • avatar
    1981.911.SC

    By the way, it isn’t gravity, it is mass and inertia!! This thing would still be a pig in “zero-G”

  • avatar
    Nopanegain

    Curious if this was a 2009 with stalwart home audio manufacturer Naim’s audio system. If so, how did it sound if you bothered to turn it on? I know a lot of work was put into tuning the new system…

  • avatar

    Umm…was my comment removed?

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    netrun – with a car like this, I’d expect a “Take Two” in the near future. I agree – since there are so few of these cars (and reviews), I’m curious about the car also.

    I’m finally catching up on my “Top Gear” viewing and saw a recent new one with a new TVR being just flogged around their track. To me, that car and the Lotus Elise/Exige twins are still what a performance car means to me. There are so many cars with 400+hp but are saddled with 5,000lbs, too many electronic nannies, and dead steering. It looks like this Bently falls into that category.

    I’m not lumping a Bentley into the Lotus/TVR category (nor should it), but when we are reading more and more reviews about these massive horsepower cars that still can’t beat a 190hp Elise, and those that feel slow in steering, gear swapping, lane changes, etc…what exactly are you paying for? (93 octane gas I guess!!!)

  • avatar

    VQ37VHR :

    Yes. Check your email. TTAC has a strict anti-flaming policy. We give one warning to transgressors who flame the website, its authors or fellow commentators.

    The second offense results in a permanent posting ban.

    Commentators are free to disagree with anything on the site, in as much detail, with as much passion as they please. But personal attacks on TTAC’s Big Three (as above) are strictly forbidden.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    …and not that long ago, I saw one retired Cincinnati business exec (and ex-owner of the Reds among many things on his resume) drive around in his brand new Rolls Royce Brooklands. Too lazy/tired to look it up, but isn’t that the $405,000 model?
    Must be nice!!!
    (Saturday night at that restaurant where the Brooklands was parked is a block from my place. It’s a car show – several Ferrari F430s, Bentleys, RRs, and it’s a riot to see some football players exit an Elise!)

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    VQ37VHR – the Nissan/Infiniti engine?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @netrun:

    We can’t go through all the details of any car in 800 words in a review. If we did, it might be the most boring review ever written. So the review provides a summary. I would recommend Consumer Reports, however, as it may suit your interests.

    That being said:

    -The fit of the panels in the interior is pretty good for the leather-covered ones. The plastic is poorly fit and there are noticeable variations in the fit between the plastic inserts (i.e. the nav head unit) and the cut out in the wood around it.

    -The leather is abrasive and poorly finished.

    -The movement of the switches on the dash feels loose and cheap.

    -The texture and finish on the plastic buttons and chrome on the dash is too bright, looking cheap and feeling cheap. Moreover, they are not perfectly aligned so that the switches wiggle slightly when depressed.

    -There are ample VW Phaeton, Audi A8, or just plain VW parts bin components in the interior. The LCD driver info screen between the gauges is standard VW/Audi/Lambo. The gear shifter slots into a very standard VW looking brushed aluminum circle. I included a photo of this with the review. It fits poorly, and wobbles. Or consider the key fob which merely is the standard VW switchblade but with a Bentley logo instead.

    -The transmission frequently is in the wrong gear. While the engine provides ample power and can overcome the wrong gear syndrome, it’s frustrating. Slamming on the the pedal at 20 mph, for example, the transmission downshifts, but often not enough, and as a result isn’t in the torquiest part of its RPM range.

    -In the interests of MPGs, the transmission also upshifts whenever and wherever possible.

    -The automatic shift from 1st to 2nd is surprisingly not very smooth.

    -Additionally, the automatic downshifts are often such that the transmission needs to upshift immediately or redline. The consequence is that it shifts more often than it should have to, and it’s not an exceptionally fast-feeling automatic.

    -The steering is too vague and numb, even at higher speeds. So while the car is obviously capable of cresting 200 mph, I can’t imagine the fear of doing so. It’s artificial and there is little to no feedback.

    -There is some steering feedback, however, from the torque steer. AWD or no, it’s 600 horsepower, and that tends to jerk the wheel.

    -Not surprisingly, it also feels very large in most maneuvers. This is a result of the very vague steering with a car that is in fact quite large.

    -The visibility is awful, especially the enormous blind spots and the back window.

    -Many of the gadgets in the test car just didn’t work or worked poorly. The sat nav is seriously out of date in terms of the hardware and the software and the accuracy of the maps. The maps themselves were marginally legible. The menus were useless and difficult to navigate.

    -The “automatic” trunk worked sometimes and not others. The automatic close function only worked from the button on the trunk itself, rending the system less useful than if you could close the trunk from the driver’s seat.
    _____________________________

    If you have any other questions about the ins and outs of the car, let me know and I’d be happy to answer.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    I am always confuse with the Bentley and Chrysler Logo

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Justin/Robert –
    Totally agree that a nuts-and-bolts review of each car would read like stereo instructions, but I’ve always been curious why reviews and editorials have been limited to 800 words. Justin put some good stuff into his reply that I personally think would have fit well into the review.
    What I see in Justin’s reply is an additional paragraph in his original review on how while this might be a tough car to get, it just isn’t worth the money when the sum and quality of the parts doesn’t equal what you pay and the “status” of owning one…and then insert the Paris Hilton comment!

  • avatar
    gaycorvette

    Lest you think the rich don’t have a sense of irony:

    I was in Beverly Hills a few months ago, and I spotted a Bentley Continental parked in front of Neiman Marcus. Something about it was different, though it took a few moments for me to put my finger on it. The owner had removed the Bentley logo from the trunk, and had replace it with a Hyundai logo.

    Oh snap.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    1981.911.SC

    In Zero G, mass and inertia don’t matter much, either

  • avatar
    netrun

    Many thanks for your detailed reply Justin!

    I can totally see why you ravaged the interior – I would expect an Acura to have better fit & finish, let alone a $200k poseur-mobile. For me, a well-appointed interior that has a consistent sense of style and grace is worth every penny. It seems a sin to spend that much money on interior materials only to botch the execution that poorly.

    I wonder if the less-than-sorted trans calibration is due to no one at Bentley knowing how to do such a thing (letting the supplier muck it up badly) or not knowing anything is wrong. Whenever a poorly responding trans is mentioned I always think of an XJ Cherokee. In this case I guess it’s a pretty good approximation as I’ll ever get to drive!

    The laundry list of parts-bin components you mention is sad. It’s not like you will save any money by making 100 more switches of the same style, it’s just not enough volume to matter. For $200k I’d like to be able to choose among a range of switchgear styles. It’d only cost $20-30k of tooling for an extra set, no big deal at this price point.

    Was the paint at least beyond reproach? (no orange peel, flawless finish, nice gradual change in color in varying light, beautiful reflections at night…) I mean, if it’s gonna be a poseur car – it better at least look good!

  • avatar
    Tummy

    The amount that is shared with the VW Phaeton is astounding.

    That said, we’re looking at getting a used 05-06 Phaeton V8. I’m finding them in the mid $20k range and think they’re a good deal in comparison to similar year MB S-Class and the Audi A8L. I find the cost of an extended VW warranty for these to also a good deal, around $3k for 7 more years / 100k more miles.

    I looked at 05 Continental GTs, but don’t think the extra cost is worth it. Especially since we’re not looking for a performance car, but a large luxury car.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Never really been convinced by the new continental models myself (GT, GTC, Flying Spur).

    I think it’s not that goodlooking compared to (pricewise) competitors. The view from the side looks good but the front and back not so much and the interior is kind of meh too…

    Also, it’s insanely heavy and a little garish. Not Corvette garish but still. As a car enthousiast it’s hard to get past some of the shortcuts they took in development (Phaeton) and that the car poses as something it’s so clearly not.

    Personally I would prefer about everything in its price range above the Bentley (Ferrari, Lambo, Aston etc) and I would even probably rather drive an XKR-S or M6 (in a sensible color, like red or white). Just about the only thing the GT beats for me is the CL Mercedes. But then again I have a natural aversion against Mercedes in general for much of the same reasons that make me dislike this Bentley.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    Justin:

    The fact a sentence beginning “In the interests of MPGs…” can be used to describe this car is all I need to know about how badly VW missed the target on this one

  • avatar
    Selektaa

    “In Zero G, mass and inertia don’t matter much, either”

    How wouldn’t it? The more mass and inertia something has, the more resistant it is to a change of direction, so the worse the handling would be, hence a pig in space. You could put some directional thrusters on an Ariel Atom and dance your way through a zero-g autocross, where the Bentley is more like a Saturn V rocket. You can achieve some crazy speed, but once you’re there, good luck changing direction ;)

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    One of the local BMW dealerships around here has a few Bentleys, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis. One thing that always made me chuckle about the Bentleys… that grill is PLASTIC.

    Cracks me up.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @Jonny Lieberman
    In Zero G, mass and inertia don’t matter much, either

    Really? Then I better start my interstellar space shipping company, before anybody else finds out that in Zero G, mass and inertia don’t matter much and I can therefore move large amounts of stuff very quickly with close to no energy.

    Seriously, Jonny!!

  • avatar

    Wouldn’t be surprised if that (plastic grille) was a European safety standards thing.

  • avatar
    N85523

    Jonny,

    At the risk of redundancy, let me give you an example. If I were in orbit in a space craft or even in NASA’s DC-9 weightless trainer aircraft, environments in which objects are in a free-fall state with zero apparent gravity, I would not want to get in the way of an approaching rifle bullet fired at me by a fellow astronaut for the offence of excessive scientific explanation. The bullet fired by my irritated comrade would have exactly the same inertia and mass in zero gravity as it would fired from a fixed position on earth. The only difference would be a lack of down-force. Similarly, if thrown at the same speed, a 10 pound lead ball thrown to the head would have just as damaging of a blow thrown in space as it would on earth. In the lack of gravity, only weight decreases. Mass, and therefore momentum (p=mv), stay the same.

    Sorry for the physics lecture.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    This is a review that I really, really liked to read. No hyperbole and no clever worldplays that distract from the flow of logic or the description of the product itself, just good observations and fair conclusions.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    It is an EU pedestrian safety standard. In short – the front bumper needs to work with any lower spoiler/air dam to give during an impact with a pedestrian’s knee and points below.
    The grille has to work with the tops of the the front fenders and most of the hood to give around 80-90mm during the impact of a head and upper torso. Translation – the grille becomes part of the system to keep the pedestrian protected on top of the car instead of going under the car or losing a limb. They also have to move hood latches and radiators back for added protection.
    That’s why I think, but can’t prove, most of the EU carmakers have these much larger and blunt faces – they are just working with the standards required for safety reasons.
    But, yes – it looks cheap on such an expensive car!
    Hope this helps!

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Viewed for more than a minute in person and the Continental TC has all the grace of an overgrown FWD econobox dressed up in some fancy clothing.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    @theflyersfan

    Very interesting, thanks. :)

  • avatar
    Invicta

    “AKM :
    September 15th, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    a four-wheeled Monica Bellucci.

    Justin, thank you for adding references to that Goddess in every possible article you write!

    The Bentley Continental GT and its variants are this car era’s Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan: popular, famous and desirable because they are considered popular, famous and desirable. At the up-close level, a point-of-view most of us will never see, the car, like the tabloid celebrities, is bland and poorly finished. Shallow and average.

    That is a brilliant paragraph. Sums up not only the car and the starlets, but pretty much our whore era.”

    Fixed that for you…

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    I have mixed feelings about this car. In spite of the cars association with dull-normals like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, the design is smart and conservative. It is a stunning car in person and the interior is sublime… even with conspicuous parts sharing with VW. There is no comparison with Bentley and Rolls Royce any more. Bentley needed to separate from RR, because they were always the rebadged bastard child of the two. In my opinion, a Rolls Royce is about as chic as an industrial refrigerator with xenons and 20” spinners. But the “entry level” Bentley shows signs of mass production, disappointing in any car costing over $100k. While I don’t mind that it’s DNA is shared with a Phaeton, which is an excellent car, I do think it’s unacceptable that the “woven mesh” chrome grille is really chromed bendy plastic. The Greco-Roman grille on a Rolls Royce is as tacky as a Newark New Jersey wedding hall, but it’s still a signature part of the car that requires a craftsman to complete. Unlike the Bentley grille, which is molded with the quality of a cheap plastic party favor. Cutting corners in places where they don’t think you’ll notice is expected on Toyotas, Hyundais and Chevys, but isn’t typical of VW/Audis higher-end vehicles. And it’s certainly not okay on a $200k Bentley. I’ll take an Aston Martin V8 Vantage and save $70k. Even though it’s cheaper, I consider it more prestigious.

  • avatar
    marc_m

    @Justin Berkowitz
    I absolutely agree with everything that you wrote. I have some more to add:

    1.) The shift lever and the chrome circle (or more like oval) looked like it came straight from the 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe I used to own (yeah, the old one, which looked like an insect).
    2.) I a big sedan I don’t have a problem with numb steering, but in car like this that has sports car aspirations it’s ridiculous that it doesn’t provide feedback. Heck, even Mazda 3’s and other low end cheap cars provide steering feedback (cheap in relation to the car that’s being reviewed here).
    3.) To have such a poor transmission in such an expensive vehicle is ridiculous.
    -The automatic shift from 1st to 2nd is surprisingly not very smooth.
    That sounds low end indeed.
    -In the interests of MPGs, the transmission also upshifts whenever and wherever possible.
    If someone can afford to pay for such a vehicle (and I’m not implying that they should!), then I doubt that they would care about fuel mileage. This thing should be about performance and it should give some satisfaction back to the owner.

    I could go on and on, but I would just augment what’s you’ve already said. Very good review, and very well said. Well, if I had money to throw away like crazy, I would settle for a $50K vehicle and give the rest to a good cause. You can buy lots of fun and satisfaction for $50K, and you can do allot of good with the left over $150K.

    Just my 2 cents…

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Justin, firstly, thanks for keeping it real, and for fawning endlessly over the car, just because it’s “nice,” expensive, and everyone else does. Sounds like this thing is like a model. Looks great, but once you get past the thinly disguised appearance, it’s lipstick on a pig.

    Continental sedans, convertibles, and soon, the Speed, are all regularly-seen, de-facto fashion accessory out here in LA and in Palm Desert, where I used to live. At least VW’s making back some of their investment on the Phaeton platform. Even then, I still like how these cars are styled inside and out.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    >>Two things. First, as you probably know and just forgot for a second while typing, BMW makes Rolls Royces these days.

    Second, while you find it ugly (the Rolls) it DOES have a sense of occasion and a world class interior. While the Bentley is merely pedestrian in all ways besides price.<<

    Ah, yes…that was a mental misfire on my part. But I do understand your point. I just personally think the new new RR’s are atrocious. So maybe I’ll just have to settle for a Maserati instead. :)

    Steve

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    Who cares if the steering lacks feel? It’s not a sports car. It’s a Bentley, even if it’s been overly VAGified. It should not be criticized for numbness that which surely isn’t to such a huge extent. One doesn’t buy a Bentley for steering feel, even if it is the AMG model.

    Other than that, yeah. No one gets it right on the first try, and the Continentals truly are (were) a stopgap measure to (successfully) fill a void before the Phaeton architecture became obsolete.

    I look forward to the new Arnage, 2010 I think. Auduminum will be cool cause Christ is the current one outdated. And the Silver Ghost (Sepia Spirit?) or whatever RR will call it; the GT Speed will not compare. However starting at two hundred thousand dollars, the [comparatively] crappy interior is inexcusable.

  • avatar

    It’s good to hear someone finally claim genuine details about the Continental. A few auto reviews i’ve seen of this car or the ones before it has gone in the direction of. “well the brakes are too soft/strong, the suspension is weird, the transmission is slow all while the steering is vauge, and the engine’s redline is simply too low etc etc.” yet at the end they’re like “we totally recommend this!”. Gee, the last time I saw all those bad traits was when I read the latest Aveo review minus the good acceleration and leather.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and mine is that Rolls Royce under BMW rule has been an utter abomination. They took a timeliness and stately look and turned it into a cartoon character. I find it hard to take any of the current RRs seriously.

    The junior Bentleys certainly don’t have the exclusivity of their senior models, but at least the engineering is interesting. Most importantly, I really like the styling: The Continental has a nice balance of retro and cutting edge. At a time where the luxury car market has been awash in terribly bangled styling fetishes, the Continental stands out as an elegant (if not terribly original) design.

    As for whether the quality of the car matches its price, I don’t know. Since I’ll never be able to afford one anyway, I don’t care. It’s pure eye candy to me. And if Paris and Lindsay happen to agree, whatever.

  • avatar
    marc_m

    @Dr Lemming

    At a time where the luxury car market has been awash in terribly bangled styling fetishes, the Continental stands out as an elegant (if not terribly original) design.

    Actually Sir, the Continental features, just like many other luxury vehicles a Bangle Butt, even if it’s not as obvious as in other car modles.. You can find more on this at:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangle-butt

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    I would recommend Consumer Reports, however, as it may suit your interests.

    Careful, Berkowitz. TTAC has a strict anti-flaming policy…

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    marc_m: Trunk lids that are raised above the rear fenders date back roughly a hundred years. Bangle’s “innovation,” if one is inclined to call it that, was to create a postmodern dissonance between the trunk and fender. That dissonance — which flamboyantly violates the traditional norms of automotive styling — is what (at least in my eyes) makes a Bangle butt ugly.

    By that standard the Bentley has not been bangleized. Its rear end is decidedly old school. Indeed, one might even call the Bentley’s rear boring except for some nice detailing. The look is understated rather than loud, as is Bangle’s tendency.

  • avatar
    SWA737

    I drove a neighbor’s non-Speed Continental a few times and came away with pretty much the same impressions as Justin. Overweight, overpriced, pretty much, just over.

  • avatar

    I’ve only sat in the Bentley, but thought the interior sumptuous. Didn’t notice anything abrasive about the leather, but maybe I was just happy it didn’t feel like vinyl.

    Didn’t drive one because I was with my father at the time and he was more interested in getting some lunch…

    One minor correction to the review: it implies that the Maserati is in the same price range, when it’s actually much less than even the regular Continental.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I think its beautiful and would have one, well, just cause i could (but i can’t). Since we cannot get over about 35 mph here, speed is not an issue. Looks IS.

  • avatar
    marc_m

    @Dr Lemming

    Thank you for the correction Sir.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Michael Karesh:
    One minor correction to the review: it implies that the Maserati is in the same price range, when it’s actually much less than even the regular Continental.

    Not the implication at all. My point was that so called “exotic” cars are generally exotic feeling. The Bentley is not.

    Most of the cars I mention at the beginning vary wildly in price. The Rolls is well over $300,000. The Maserati is $100,000, the Aston Vantage is $120,000.

  • avatar
    Mark Morrison

    Bentley is proof that money can’t buy taste. I would much rather a Maserati much more car for far less money

  • avatar

    That’s fine. When I win my millions, I’ll buy a Brooklands coupe because the GT models are much too pedestrian and gauche. Anyone who wants a real Bentley knows that the Arnage derivatives are the only thing to buy – because they have no sporting pretensions or any concessions to cost cutting. They are coddling barges with maniacally torquey motors and hand finished details. They are living rooms with big engines. And I think they are magnificent. If I get tired of the flaws I’ll just walk to the other side of the garage and pick out something that is closer to perfect.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    As imitation is the most sincere form of flattery other than cash, I’ll sincerely flatter a poster from earlier this week….

    I’ll just take an S8 and a couple of years off work…..

  • avatar

    Justin Berkowitz

    Don’t assume for one moment that the people who buy cars like this are the slightest bit worried about steering.

    They are buying IMAGE, Leather wrapped everything and reliability.

    I see alot of these in Manhattan but every now and then you see guys with em in the suburbs and the ones sitting on used car lots with lots of miles.

    guys in these just wanna drive a Bentley. Most of em have NO IDEA Volkwagon makes them. The Bentley GT is probably the hottest street car you can have in my city. If rappers rap about it and you can’t afford it – it must be good, right?

  • avatar
    ohsnap

    First, this was a very good and bright review.

    Second, this car really is the epitome of the ‘more money than brains’ class of auto purchasers.

    If you’re going to spend this kind of cash on four wheels, it better make you smile every time you drive it; I’m thinking Ferrari F430 or a 911 GT.

  • avatar
    rcolayco

    OK, so what’s wrong with the Speed, according to this review?

    1. It handles competently but not brilliantly because it’s heavy.
    2. It’s steering is vague.
    3. It’s transmission is clumsy.
    4. It’s build-quality is not up to the price of the car.
    5. It’s gadgetry is not quite state-of-the art.

    Ergo, it’s the automotive equivalent of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton? Not quite fair, I say. I won’t even go so far as to comment that this is about as meritorious as a very similar analogy used in the on-going political campaign.

    Surely, a car must be judged in the context of its genre. So the car doesn’t handle brilliantly; could that be calling the glass half-empty rather than half-full? There are people who like large cars with lots of finishes and gadgets that add weight. I suppose the Speed might be found to have steering that’s more vague (not less sharp) than say, a RWD like the Merc CL? But the Speed has AWD, which does provide benefit under certain driving conditions. More to the point, ought the F430 be faulted for being heavier than a Lotus Exige?

    I suppose this piece ought to be read in the same spirit that one reads a Jeremy Clarkson review. If so, then I should remember to do so if I should encounter similar in future.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    rcolayco :
    OK, so what’s wrong with the Speed, according to this review?

    A lot. See my post above [painfully] detailing how lackluster it is. But your laundry list demonstrates much of what’s wrong with it.

    Tell me, does it make sense to you for a car costing $213,000 to have merely competent handling, vague steering, a clumsy transmission, bad build quality, out of date gadgets that don’t work, and shoddy build quality?

    The Lindsay Lohan/Paris Hilton comparison is actually very much a good analogy.

    Neither the car, nor those two women, have anything remarkable about them. There is no reason the Bentley should be so expensive or “well regarded” by car lay-people other than the logo. There is no reason Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton should be so famous, either.

    The biggest problem with this car: it’s popular and nothing else. Why should you buy a Bentley in the future? What’s remarkable about the brand? What does it stand for? Expensive and … ?

    It’s a fad. Just like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. They will go out of style. Bentley will, too.

  • avatar
    ronbo456

    I think you are exactly right about the Speed’s reach exceeding Bentley’s grasp. I think you are also right about the difference between $100k and $150k being a lot smaller than the difference between $150k and $200k.

    I wonder how the whole experiment with cars in the low six figures is going to play out. You can buy as many ’05 Continental GTs as you want for $100k. 911 Turbos from that year are mostly in the $80s. The M-B S600 is in the $50s, and you couldn’t pay $50k for an ’05 QP (bad transmission problems that year IIRC). In contrast, a 2005 F430 has suffered little if any depreciation. Will the Speed suddenly forget to depreciate?

    This segment depends on people who have enough money to take the depreciation hit. One wonders how willing this cohort will be over the next few years.

    PS – I thought that the automotive equivalent of Paris and Lindsay was a rental car: Easy to get but you never know who’s been in there ahead of you.

  • avatar

    The lack of consistency is amazing when reading some of the the previous Continental reviews.

    Robert Farago says about the Continental GT, “Every inch of the GT’s cabin that isn’t covered with piano-grade wood or satin finish aluminum or what was once Wilton carpet is slathered in perfectly-stitched, glove soft, dizzyingly fragrant leather”

    Robert Farago says about the Flying Spur, “The Bentley’s cabin quality easily trounces the Mercs, Bimmers, Masers and even Audis of the world, and gives nothing away to the Roller. The Spur’s materials and workmanship– fragrant leather seats and surfaces, burled wood, mechanically dampened “brightwear” (Bentley-speak for switchgear), plush carpeting, etc. — are eerily perfect.”

    Then of course, there’s your review.

  • avatar

    VQ37VHR :

    There’s no “house line” on TTAC’s reviews. Each of our reviewers is free to call it like they see it.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    VQ37VHR :

    Then of course, there’s your review.

    And? The fact that Farago and I disagreed means what?

    What did you think of the Speed when you drove it?

  • avatar

    Now, now Justin. No need to get antsy. The issue isn’t that you disagree Mr. Berkowitz, but rather the degree of which you disagree. What that means is that one of you fine gentlemen lack a keen eye. Something such as build quality isn’t exactly an intangible, and the discrepancy is far too large to shrug off. For the record, my fathers best friend owns a Bentley Continental GT Speed, and I’ve logged more than enough time both behind the wheel and in the passenger seat–certainly longer than the few hours you’ve spent with the Speed. Furthermore, I find it quite peculiar that the same vehicle you perceive as humdrum, garish, and pedestrian is the same vehicle you assumed I hadn’t driven. People DO drive these cars in the real world you know. Oh wait, I’m sure your question was an honest inquiry rather than a tenuous exercise in rhetoric and sarcasm. Too clever by half ole chum. Indeed.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    VQ37VHR : What that means is that one of you fine gentlemen lack a keen eye.

    Not necessarily. We could be evaluating build quality on the basis of different indicators.

    Moreover and more importantly, because these cars are at least partially hand assembled, that can mean substantial variation in the build quality of any given car compared to another.

    Additionally, Robert drove the Bentley several years ago. Industry standards and what was expected was different (the reference point of an S-Class was not the same as it is now, since the S-Class was completely replaced between now and then).

    certainly longer than the few hours you’ve spent with the Speed.
    I had it every day for a week.

    Furthermore, I find it quite peculiar that the same vehicle you perceive as humdrum, garish, and pedestrian is the same vehicle you assumed I hadn’t driven.
    You find it quite peculiar that I don’t associate you with being humdrum, garish, and pedestrian?

  • avatar

    “You find it quite peculiar that I don’t associate you with being humdrum, garish, and pedestrian?”

    Touché.

    I’ve realized that I’ve been a bit over-zealous. I hadn’t even considered the change in industry standards. Please excuse my foul demeanor.

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    Not that this is relevant, but the Arnage and Brooklands are the Bentleys to get. Waft when you want to, bahn-storm when you need to. Ignore the hoi-polloi.

    Those cars are far from perfect, being built on an ancient platform (their interior design and space utilization are pretty horrid by mod3ern standards), but my goodness does 737 lb-ft of turbo-V8 torque sound like something I need.

  • avatar
    jstnspin82

    I think Bentley’s have become overrated and a status quo for rapers, athletes, and celebrities that have to much money and just buy something that everyone thinks is cool and then throw rims on it and make a mockery of the British Icon. Bentley’s used to have that status symbol of the wealthy back in the 20’s with the big Bentley Blowers and had performance in LeMans also with the Bentley Boys. I think Bentley still has the performance and class and it’s good that Volkswagen scooped them up instead of an American automaker because they would be flourishing right now if they were owned by one of the little 3. I like Bentley’s and the performance and good looks are there but as far as the GT goes, it’s just a popularity thing to me. I mean if someone is driving down the street in southern California with a Bentley GT and pulls up next to, um… lets say a new Porsche 911 GT3, hell even just a 911 Turbo he is either going to get his ass handed to him or he will piss his pants in fright of the German thoroughbred. I guess he went out in style and got attention from the B, the name says it all “Bentley” I like the car and it seems like it performs well on all road tests but for the same price I would rather own a Porsche – There is no substitute!

  • avatar
    justin.82

    Why would you buy this when you could buy a Porsche 911 GT2?

  • avatar
    mikeandterri

    Interesting reviews, and many are right on the mark in terms of the quirks and plastic grille. But owning one sort of changes your mind about this car. I prefer understated elegance, and this car delivers. Having 600hp is nice as well. 0-60 in 4.3 is true; ask me how I know. I wouldn’t pay $247K for a new GT Speed like the one I currently own (actual window sticker) , but getting the same one used with only 4K miles for $150 was totally worth it.

    When I traded my Mercedes and saw the two sitting next to each other, it was a no brainer. If you are really concerned about price instead of value, take the metro. Otherwise, let’s see how many actual owners are going to bash this car.


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