By on July 17, 2012

I don’t think anybody else in automotive journalism can make this claim: I’ve put in nearly 37,000 miles behind the wheel of a Bentley Continental GT, in places as disparate as New York City’s West 48th Street (home of Rudy’s Music), the rural roads of northern Kentucky, and the Climbing Esses at Virginia International Raceway. Forget a lead-follow press event or the rich-for-a-week-wannabe experience of a loaner car: every mile I spent behind the Bentley’s wheel was at my own expense.

Of course, I’m speaking literally here: I’d actually purchased the piano-black-wood-rimmed steering wheel from a Continental GT and installed it, along with a set of Bentley paddle shifters, into my 2006 VW Phaeton V8. When I finally got around to driving the real thing, I couldn’t believe how close the driving experience of the $190,000-plus Bentley was to that of the $68,000 Volkswagen. “This car,” I thought at the time, “is a Phaeton for idiots, which is really saying something.”

Five years later, the Continental GT is still a Phaeton for idiots, except now it’s an old Phaeton for idiots. Old, tired, and showing no signs of life despite a twin-turbo-V-8 heart transplant. It’s time to pull the plug on a car that never even deserved to be called a Bentley in the first place.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “This is just another unnecessarily bitter rant from ol’ JB. How is this car any less deserving of the Bentley name than any of the radiator-grille-jobs of the Sixties, Seventies, or Eighties?” Well, let’s start by looking at the famous “ticking clock” advertisement, shall we?

I call your attention to sales point #13:

The Bentley is made by Rolls-Royce. Except for the radiators, they are identical motor cars, manufactured by the same engineers in the same works. People who feel diffident about driving a Rolls-Royce can buy a Bentley.

Other versions of the same advertisement noted that the Bentley was slightly less expensive than the $13,995 price of the Rolls-Royce, since the radiator shell was easier to construct. Conventional wisdom tells that this “badge-engineered era”, which lasted until the arrival of the Bentley Mulsanne Turbo in 1982, was the low point in the brand’s history. The people giving you that conventional wisdom have never had to watch Paris Hilton deliberately flash her insufficiently-radiation-proof underpants at a crowd of photographers as she gracelessly unlimbers herself from a quilted-upholstery Conti GT. More to the point, they are wrong.

During the badge-engineered years, the Bentley was the most sublime and desirable vehicle in the world. Why? It’s simple. It was the Rolls-Royce for people who were confident enough to not require the Flying Lady up front. A late Sixties Bentley T1, an outstanding example of which I had the chance to drive a few years ago, was probably the most tasteful luxury car to be built since the ’61 Lincoln Continental and it certainly hasn’t faced much competition in that quarter during the decades between then and now. Car and Driver’s infamous characterization of the Silver Shadow and its descendants as “really bad Town Cars” didn’t hold water when they wrote it and it doesn’t hold water now.

With the arrival of the Turbo engine, the Mulsanne and its descendants became rapid as well as tasteful. The sublime Continental R added bespoke coachwork to the mix. Finally, Bentley created a true modern successor to the “Bentley Boys” conveyances: the brutish, voluptuous, purposeful Continental T.

The company also supplied the Azure convertible and Continental SC T-top coupes, but you can ignore them and just look at the Continental T, which is one of the finest motorcars ever built, period, point blank. Shall I explain why? If you insist:

  • It was bespoke. The chassis and bodywork were derived from the Rolls-Royce but they were perfectly tailored around the short-wheelbase, flared-fender concept.
  • It was masculine. A Bentley is a man’s car. Sorry about that: it just is. The Continental fits the bill, being unsubtle and vicious without resorting to a Trans Am’s worth of trailer-park visual aggression.
  • It was authentic. Our own Derek Kriendler will slap me around for using the much-derided word, but the Conti-T was authentic. It was built and engineered by Englishmen in the Rolls-Royce Crewe works, using an engine which was steeped in Rolls-Royce history and finished using an absurd amount of hand labor.
  • It was rapid. I don’t mean fast. Fast is a crass phrase used to describe how well a Nissan GT-R circumnavigates the Burgerkingring under ideal conditions with brand-new tires and the boost cranked to fruit-fly life expectancy. Rapid means the owner/driver of a Bentley arrives quickly at his destination and has the power to execute two-lane passes or freeway sound-barrier runs at will.

Most critically, the Continental T didn’t depend on the Bentley “brand”. It would have been a kick-ass, hugely desirable vehicle with the Bristol, or Aston, or Triumph, or Ford badge affixed to the front. It didn’t require all that accessorized crap about “lifestyle” to be a great car. It simply was a great car.

What replaced it? The Continental GT, which was far from a great car. To begin with, it was styled to look like nothing in particular. It wasn’t even styled to look like what it was, which was a giant Volkswagen. The designer, Dirk van Braeckel, tried to make a front-wheel-drive sedan look like a rear-wheel-drive coupe, and the result was this horrifying mishmash that looked quite a bit like that one frog-eyed Celica you occasionally see outside strip clubs in the daytime. It was easily the least tasteful Bentley in company history up to that point, but since then Mr. van Braeckel has inflicted the Mulsanne on the public. The Mulsanne looks like nothing so much as as the pale, distended monsters seen at the bottom of the ocean by James Cameron’s deep-sea submarine, casting their enormous, bulbous eyes around in different directions while their nightmarishly unhinged jaws yawn open in the search for blind, wiggling prey.

The CGT’s bizarre proportions required huge wheels, and those huge wheels feel like anchors holding the Bentley to the ground whenever a directional change is required. The base Euro-market VR6 Phaeton steers and rides better than the Bentley, at a quarter of the cost.

Where is that 300% markup over the Phaeton returned to the customer? I figure it works like this: about 25% for the twin-turbo W-12 (or, now, poverty-spec twin-turbo V-8), about 50% for the interior upgrades, and 225% because the VW Group believes you’re stupid enough to pay it. The Bentley has a nice interior — as long as you ignore the fact that all the “hard points”, from the location of the vents to the positioning of the chrome-ringed radio power switch, are cribbed straight from the VW. Oddly enough, the Audi A8, which was developed concurrently with the VW/Bentley twins, got its own architecture both inside and out, and as a result is probably the nicest of the three.

It should also be noted that the Continental GT’s luxury appointments are, by and large, made by anonymous suppliers and trucked to the assembly points in Crewe and Dresden. Oh yes, Dresden. The infamous Transparent Factory made Flying Spurs, which are four-door CGTs, whenever demand exceeded Crewe’s ability to supply. It’s really all plastic in there, although some of the plastic is very convincing and there’s a thin veneer of expensive wood laid on top on parts of it. Plastic parts, made by suppliers right around the corner from the places where that one movie “Hostel” supposedly took place.

Needless to say, the words “Bratislava” or “Dresden production” never appeared in marketing materials for the Continental GT. With each revision, the car becomes more cod-British, adding words like “Speed” or “Specification” or “Works”. Simply no expense is spared, my good man, to confuse the fact that this car is an old Volkswagen wearing a funny hat.

Whom does it fool? Certainly not the old Bentley buyers, if any of them are still alive and solvent. The Conti’s appointed role as My First Bentley makes it prime meat for all those loathsome people one sees on TMZ or the various English As A Second Language exotic-car forums. None of these people care about the engineering of the W-12 engine or the considerable ability of the all-wheel-drive system. They like the fact that it costs $175,000 or more and everybody knows it. If the head of Bentley went on the “Today” show tomorrow and said, “You know, this is really just a Phaeton for people who have a lot of money, and it’s the same car, and I can’t even tell the difference until one of my underlings points it out, but it costs about three times as much,” the sales figures would stay the same. The important thing is that it costs money. It’s the Hublot Big Bang of cars: a vaguely impressive shell surrounding a very prosaic, mass-produced item.

If the Continental was an embarrassment to the brand in 2004 — and it was — then how much more so is it today? Quite a bit more, because now the car isn’t even recognizably expensive, and it’s been revealed to be a limited-lifetime piece of junk. While the men and women of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Clubs around the world labor tirelessly to keep their affordably-purchased Shadows and Spurs alive, Continentals are joining their Phaeton brethren in the discard pile as people realize the idiocy of spending $20,000 or more to fix a car that won’t be worth that much in a year or two. Bentley can’t apply enough lip gloss to the 2013-model pig to disguise the fact that it’s about the same as the $50,000 or cheaper variants from eight or nine years ago. The new model’s sole selling point is an engine that makes less power and is less impressive than what you get in an eBay special from 2004. When pressed about the virtue of buying a new one, the company’s PR mouthpieces will say something about “reduced consumption”.

For once, I agree with them. Bentley customers should start reducing their consumption — of Phaeton-platform cars. While they’re at it, they can stay away from that misshapen Mulsanne. Perhaps the more tasteful and educated among them could consider doing something like purchasing, and restoring, a 1965 S3. Then they could enjoy a dialogue along these lines:

Neighbor: What’s the difference between that and a Rolls-Royce?

Owner: The shape of the radiator grill.

Neighbor: What’s the difference between that and a 2013 Continental GT?

Owner: This one isn’t a Volkswagen.

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75 Comments on “Avoidable Contact: Hey Hey, Ho Ho, The Donkinental’s Got To Go...”


  • avatar
    wmba

    Dead on, Jack.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick

      ‘The Conti’s appointed role as My First Bentley makes it prime meat for all those loathsome people one sees on TMZ or the various English As A Second Language exotic-car forums.’ That was awesome. And right on the money. Around these parts, the Conti has become the ride of choice for the douchebag poseur (well, at least those not driving an AMG G-Class).

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Are the CGT’s trunklid hinges at least same awesome ones the Phaeton is fitted with?

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    I used to live in High Point NC the”Furniture Capital of the World” and alot of old money would buy these things. Got a chance to drive one of my neighbors who was a land developer any time I wanted. I dont understand your rant. How was this car an “embarrassment”? How is it even more so today? I especially love the styling (and so do alot of others) even if it is getting long in tooth. I have never dreamed of owning a RR but one of these yes. The thing is that nobody bought the Phaeton and it was most def a flop here in the US. Now with that said i would not own one over an A8 because I just love the look and feel of the A8. nuff said.

  • avatar
    replica

    Even when the CGT came out, I had a hard time identifying them. It looked like a Crossfire was mated with a giant Dodge of some sort. It never had any presence. Even that dreaded Maserati 4 door was more interesting to look at.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      By “Dreaded Maserati 4-Door” I can only assume you mean the Quattroporte, which is one of the best looking cars currently on the road today, and which would be the indisputable champion of smart big money if it wasn’t built by workers who make FIAT of the 80′s look like all the crew in Crewe of the 30′s?

      I know a lot of flashy obnoxious money who tool their trophy enhanced girlfriends around in GTs, but ALL of the Quattroportes are owned by guys I actually respect. Just too bad they have 2-3 other cars for all the time the Masers spend in the shop.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The Maserati Quattroporte is a much cooler car than the Continental GT/Flying Spur. It has proper RWD proportions and manages to be great looking performance sedan without the same cliché 4-door coupe design that almost every other luxury brand uses for that niche.

      Plus it has a Ferrari engine, not a Volkswagen engine. Which is why I recommend an Audi A7 for the down days. But if if a buyer cared about reliability he or she would be buying a Lexus.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Jack, normally I’m with you, and I get the point you’re trying to make here…but I have to argue that your point may be overblown.

    First of all, I don’t think most people buying these cars today cares much about heritage or what the car *used* to stand for. What the car represents today is all that matters to buyers. To me Bentley is supposed to be understated (as compared to a Roller), powerful and somewhat stylish. I see a good number of Continental GTs around Northeast Ohio (we still have pockets of money! really!) and they’re either driven by 60ish gentlemen or young ballers in their 20s-30s.

    Regardless who buys it, I always found the Continental to be a good looking, if slightly oddly proportioned, vehicle. Classy without being too ostentatious (ie: Rolls).

    Not my cup of tea, but I don’t see much reason to beat up on the car, either.

    • 0 avatar
      Neb

      Though with my experience it’s as relevant as those guys who live in basements and argue about supercars, let me say that I think Jack is totally right about this.

      I mean, I’ve never driven a Bentley, but I understand why somebody would want the old one. It has gorgeous, unique styling, it has a giant 60′s muscle car V8 generating enough torque for a warship, and it is (mostly) handmade. The new one on the other hand is everything Jack derided about it: a blingmobile that costs what it does because people who want blingmoblies are by definition tasteless.

      I’m kinda beaten by comments further down, but bling is a kind of logical end product of consumerism. “I want to demonstrate how much money I have; X costs more than Y; therefore X is better.”

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    When these came out I was 20, and even then I couldn’t figure out the hype. I often said that to me it looked like a $60k car; I have no idea how people paid the ridiculous price these things went for. The styling is awkward and incoherent, and to me far too tall for a luxury coupe. The huge rims are conspicuous in a bad way, and the full-width brake lamp looked cool on a ’92 Seville STS, but in my opinion looks wrong in the backlight of a modern Bentley. A Chrysler 300C has more swagger than one of these things, and no less class.

    I love the old Bentleys that Jack spoke of, but ever since they went VW, they’ve been total dogs. Odd, really, given how good a job VW did at managing Lamborghini.

    The sad thing is that the general public does fall all over themselves over these abominations, I’m sure because of the reasons Jack cites. My prediction is that if these really went for $60k new, almost no one would care about them. To wit: the Phaeton.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    This car always reminded me of those VW Beetles with JC Whitney Rolls-Royce hoods and grills. The only difference is that today people are stupid enough to be fooled. I can’t help but to think that product planners at VW were discussing Piech’s folly, and that it went something like this:

    VW1: We spent a fortune developing the best luxury car we could, but nobody will pay $60K for a VW.

    VW2: What if it wasn’t a VW?

  • avatar
    The Doctor

    The Continental may have become the mass-market cash-cow for the brand and if it was the only car they produced then I’d agree it was a shame.

    However, Bentley continued to build the Arnage well after the Continental was introduced and also found time to continue the Azure, build the Brooklands and introduce the Mulsanne. All of them are powered by 6.75l of Mr Royce’s finest pig iron and all of them are “proper” Bentleys (especially the Brooklands which is the properest of the lot).

    The Continental kept the company alive and should be thanked for that. Talk about diminishing the brand is nonsense since the only people who care are the people who know the history of Bentley and should be able to see that it’s still producing the sort of turbo-power brontosauruses that made its name.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      “All of them are powered by 6.75l of Mr Royce’s finest pig iron…”

      Really, sir! Aluminium alloy block since the first 6.23l engine was introduced in 1959.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      I would like, more than anything, to own and operate a Brooklands. I feel that it would be the last car I ever needed, and I would like to imagine finding a small, independent shop that did everything I needed done to it for the next 2-3 decades. It is the most Bently-iest of the things they make, and it is right up next to the old blower Bentlys in the Hierarchy and Pantheon of Proper.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    CGTs are even more grotesque and bewildering in the flesh.

    More and more though I am having problem reconciling good business as car crime. Dont blame celebrities, dont blame manufacturers, dont blame a decline in taste… blame the yen spike of the 90s and man’s incessant, insatiable appetite for “more”. Brand managers appetite for more sales. Owners appetites for more power, more performance, more recognition. More more more. There is no end to it because the problem is hardwired to our nature.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      “CGTs are even more grotesque and bewildering in the flesh.”

      I will second this. I never had a problem with the CGT when All I saw were pictures online and in magazines and Jeremy Clarkson coaxing it’s tires to commit Seppuku, but then one day I saw one ‘out in the wild’ as it were..

      “What is that dinky, yet suspiciously massive-looking thing?” Then it turned and I could see the recognizable Bentley grill with it’s googly-eye headlamps. It’s surprising just how Small it actually is in real life, but still even by just Looking at it you’re aware of it’s immense Mass. It’s like the proverbial 10 pounds of excrement in a 5-pound bag.

  • avatar
    relton

    Actually the Bentley Continental DOES look like something. It’s just that Jack’s not old enough to remember.

    These cars have all the styling cues of the original Exner show cars from Chrysler. the 52 d’Elegance, KC-310, and a number of others. I’ve loved those cars since I was a kid, and someday, soon, the Continental will grace my driveway and let me gaze upon those contours in person.

    I don’t cazre if it’s made in Crewe or Dresden. I don’t care if VW puts their initials all over the car, as long as I can’t see it. I don’t care if it has a W12 engine. In fact, I prefer the V8.

    I’ve driven the new Continental with a V8. I have not driven a Phaeton, so I have no basis for comparison there. However, the Bentley blows away the Aston Martin DB9, in my subjective opinion.

    Bob

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/chrysler_k310_51.jpeg

      I don’t know. That’s like me claiming to look like George Clooney, just because from 500 feet we have vaguely similar features :)

      Chrysler should bring that look back as a Challenger platform twin.

      • 0 avatar

        If you ask me, Chrysler has already been using elements of the Exner/Ghia concepts in the RWD Chrysler 300. Perhaps not the “1950s swoopy fender look common to Rolls Royces and Jaguar XK120s” that the K310 and current Bentleys use and that Relton refer to, but if you look at the grille and the keyhole shaped insets for the headlights on the RWD Chrysler 300, you’ll see echos of the K310′s front end and other Exner/Ghia concepts like this Chrysler Special on display at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum:

        http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=10174

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      To my nouveau riche eyes, the Continental GT is a knockout and ranks as one of my top 5 most attractive cars on the market today (my other four are the 7 series, LS, Ghost, and Equus). Resale value isn’t really an issue considering how much used Arnages and Silver Spirits are going for from the same era.

      Jack, hope to see your diatribe on “ae by Allen Edmonds” one day! :)

  • avatar

    “My First Bentley”…brilliant!

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      A friend who recently came across some dosh, lease the 4 door version of this VW (the Bentley branded one); proudly announcing to anyone within earshot that from now on, he will never stoop to such plebian brands as BMW and Mercedes and Porsche; it’s all Bentley, RR and Ferrari/Lambo from now on.

  • avatar

    This rant would be a bit hollow, had they not kept the platform around well past its expiration date.

    Jack, it’s good to know that you’ll be able to re-purpose many of your posts when someone launches iwanteverythingtobelikeitwasbeforethe80s.com and noneofyoupeopleareclassyenough.com

    There are very very few people whose current purchases are linked to brand history older than ~25 years. As such, it doesn’t really matter what underpins the CGT, so long as it works as a touring car, which it did.

    In all seriousness, if not the Continental, what is today’s proper gentleman’s touring car?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      The CGT hardly worked as a touring car. It drove in a fashion which was identical to that of a $68,000 sedan. There is more difference between a Crown Vic and a Town Car, dynamically, than there is between a Phaeton and a CGT.

      Anybody who was impressed by a CGT would have been equally impressed by a Phaeton, and that probably wasn’t even the best entry in the market.

      The old CL wasn’t a handsome car but it was streets ahead of the Bentley.

      What would a modern gentleman drive? Something that wasn’t a rolling advertisement for conspicuity of consumption. Maybe a V-6 Mustang!

      • 0 avatar
        nrcote

        > What would a modern gentleman drive? Something that
        > wasn’t a rolling advertisement for conspicuity of
        > consumption. Maybe a V-6 Mustang!

        Many many thanks!

        And I don’t write that only because I have a 2012 Race Red V6 6-speed manual with leather interior.

      • 0 avatar

        Ah, so something like an E9 BMW 3.0cs?
        …or better yet, a classic Falcon?

        Personally, I liked the styling when it wasn’t 9 years old. Its predecessor was more a brick with rounded corners…acceptable, I guess. It also had the same transmission as my mom’s 1995 Suburban 2500.

        Is it really a problem that the ContiGT drove like a Phaeton? As I understand it, the Phaeton drove just fine at speed. No one (other than you) would ever drive them both and cry foul.

        Comparing an ’04 CGT to the contemporary Aston Martin Vanquish, Jag XKR, and Ferrari 575 puts it in 2nd place behind the Aston, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      “…what is today’s proper gentleman’s touring car?”

      CL, at least until Lexus makes a hybrid update of their 90s era SCs.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      “In all seriousness, if not the Continental, what is today’s proper gentleman’s touring car?”

      Audi RS5. If we are not going to limit it strictly to 2 door 4 passenger front engine coupes then the R8 or S7. Audi is *the* brand right now. I’ve never been a fan of the entire engine block in front of the front axle thing (except for obviously the R8), but the cars all look like amazing. And the RS5 and S7 are basically Continental GTs with less fat and more updated platforms.

      Also, Subaru BRZ Limited. Genuine Alcantara®.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    If your ride is valued for its “bling factor” and not its mechanical merits, you’re doing it wrong.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    I took a tour of the Dresden plant on a day they were building the Bentley. Nobody there seemed to think it was a big deal, nobody was embarrassed, and certainly nobody was hiding the fact that the Phaeton and Flying Spur were running down the same line. I think they even mentioned the percentage of shared parts but I forgot what that was.

    It’s worth heading out of the downtown area if you are ever in Dresden; you can make a day trip out of it too – the German Hygiene Museum is just about across the street and offers quite the contrast to a very clean factory. Just don’t eat lunch before you go.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Yes, I’ve toured the Dresden plant on my own dime, stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Wolfsburg, toured Autostadt, driven a Phaeton around Germany for nine days, all that stuff.

      Of course they aren’t embarrassed to assemble the Bentley. It’s the same car and the Germans are neither sentimental nor actively involved in Bentley marketing. Note, however, that the North American distribution arm of Bentley wouldn’t take Dresden Flying Spurs. There was a big to-do about it.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    “The important thing is that it costs money.”
    I’d add ‘more’ to that sentence, but you’ve nailed it. “It costs more, therefore if I am able to buy it, it puts me in a different league to the peons” is the basic sentiment of this car and many other ‘luxury lifestyle’ products, like $20,000 handbags and $500 sneakers covered in paint which are designed to make you look like a poor person. It’s conspicuous consumption at it’s highest and most retarded level.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      Exactly! The difference between the Phaeton and the Bentley is the same as an I-Phone, and an I-Phone with the “I’m rich” red jewel app installed….

      Don’t know about you, mates, but if a company offered to sell me two nearly identical cars, both of which performed the same, felt nearly the same, and one was $70k and the other was $225k, well, slap me silly and call me Jenny if I’d buy the $225k variant. Can I get a “what-what”?

  • avatar
    carguy

    The Continental GT is definitely the chariot of choice for nightclub owners, footballers and trust fund beneficiaries and so is easy to pick on. However, the Cadillac Escalade does much the same thing: offer the cheaper Chevy Tahoe to customers who want to pay more for a better badge.

  • avatar
    probert

    “It was authentic. Our own Derek Kriendler will slap me around for using the much-derided word, but the Conti-T was authentic. It was built and engineered by Englishmen in the Rolls-Royce Crewe works, using an engine which was steeped in Rolls-Royce history and finished using an absurd amount of hand labor.”

    Is this irony? Shouldn’t real Bentleys be made by people wearing Bentley overalls. Seems only fitting.

    My guess is no car is worth this much money, and most people buying them would be fairly loathsome on some level – but what’s the point? No one wanted a $70,000 VW and many want a $200,000 Bentley – ain’t life grand.

    Now pardon me while I get into my BMW and aimlessly cut people off on the highway.

  • avatar

    If it drives like a $70k sedan it can’t be all bad. I think the Conti IS a bentley.

    I’m sure all cars have plastic in them.

    Mention of the Brooklands?

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      You’re on to something. Those “real” Bentleys, to non enthusiasts unaware or unconcerned about price and pedigree, drive substantially worse than even a $20,000 Camry.

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    I guess I’m the only one who forgot that Bentley made a targa. There are very few vehicles that can pull off a T- top or Targa roof instead of or in addition to a full convertible and the ones that are able to do it are a helluva lot smaller and sportier than a Bentley. The Bentley SC Targa looks like a 80′s Monte Carlo that was left in the sun too long and melted.

  • avatar
    kkop

    While I have never driven one, unfortunately, I do get to see quite a few of them since we have a Bentley dealer in town. I’d love to own one, they look great in person. I actually consider it a plus that they are no longer RR-derived. Frankly though, no one cares about that (if they even know), since the split is fading back into time now.

    To me, it looks lot better than a Phaeton. Sure, the Bentley is more expensive, but at least it won’t be mistaken for a stretch Passat :-)

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Bentley Owner: I say, good man, but how does she hang on to the pole like that?

    Toyota Celica Owner: You mean, upside down?

    Bentley Owner: Yes, and with only one leg?

    Toyota Celica Owner: I taught her that in our bedroom, now give her a dollar.

    Trans Am Owner: Hey, that’s my sister you’re talking’ about.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I agree. Platform sharing has no place at this price range. But the car’s targeted for someone like Kim Kardashian anyway… They could just put a Bentley grille and leather interior on a K-car and she probably won’t notice much.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I gotta disagree Jack. If the VW (and Audi) underpinnings are superior, why shouldn’t you develop a full-blown distinctive luxury model? I’m sure the GT is quite competent in the handling/speed areas, meanwhile people know you’ve arrived (which was, face it, the point of anyone buying the old Bentleys as well. If not, a Porsche or Benz would have done just fine….).

    I will say the Continental T was kick ass…..

  • avatar
    MeaCulpa

    Mr Baruth, I sincerely tried to think you where wrong, but then came the part with the horrible “Hubby”, and all my defenses fell. You’re spot on about the GT, the Mully is still a proper Bentley and looks good, to the credit of VAG they actually manufacture cars in Crew as opposed to the ridiculous knock-down-assembly-plant-staffed-with-people-in-day-coat that is Rolls Royce. But the faux-britishnes of both marques is really approaching the ridiculous ford-super-duty-built-tough-real-working-man’s-truck-with-cowboy-heritage-live-free-die-hard-semper-fi-hooora-sgt that makes some american vehicles seem so ridiculous to the rest of the world.
    What am I saying? To much silk tie and shoots is just as bad as to much bull tie and SHOOTIN’, it’s just fake and tasteless, albeit in different ways for different demographics.

    Now I’m of to sixspeed online to update my 22 line signature with the latest tintjob on the porsche I -like totally – own.

  • avatar
    DearS

    BMW 135i = FWD or RWD? matters to me, not owners. VW = Bently? Don’t matter to me. If the Phaeton is as good as other 200k cars at 65k why buy a CGT, Maserati or even a 550i? 200k cars don’t sell on price alone. Don’t sell on content alone, they sell on brand and cow hide. CGT could hurt the brand, but has not slowed it yet. PR doing ok.

  • avatar
    th009

    Jack, I get it that you don’t like the Continetal GT. But was it a replacement for Continental T, really? I think not: the 2003 Continental T started at $290K, the 2004 Continental GT at $150K. Do you really expect the same car, from the same manufacturer, at half the price?

    The chassis is 10 years old — but the Rolls-Royce is 8 years old, and the Maybach is 13 years old. (The Continental T platform itself had its roots back in 1965!) Besides, what else competes in this segment — with four seats in reasonable comfort? Not Ferrari, Lamborghini or other supercar makers. Either Porsche Panamera or Maserati Quattroporte would be a stretch. And would you really buy a Rolls if you intend to drive it yourself?

    So other than sharing a platform with the Phaeton, and not being a $300K Continental T, what exactly is wrong with the chassis? Is the ride quality poor? Is the handling prowess insufficient for its target market? Something else that makes it a “limited-lifetime piece of junk?” Please do enlighten us …

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Compared to a CL550, the CGT rides harsh, shifts slow, handles like it’s twice the weight, has poor visibility, even worse reliability, no interior storage for anything and just makes you look like the kind of douche who thinks Paris Hilton is someone worth emulating. Compared to the CL63, it’s just plain slow, incompetent and outdated, although perhaps a tad smoother shifting at crawl speed.

      Come to think of it, even Paris seems to have figured this out by now; as she seems to mainly drive a Ferrari these days.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    On one hand, the CGT is virtually common – between the number of them out there, and not having the presence of a traditional Bentley, they don’t really rate a second glance.

    On the other, it’d be easier to find a CGT than a W12 Phaeton, should I decide I need one…

  • avatar
    300zx_guy

    see Rolls ad, #11. There goes Fiat’s claim to the “world’s first in-car espresso maker”.

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    These cars and gallardo’s will soon be available at buy here pay used cars lots in the hood.

  • avatar
    crush157

    Wasn’t the idea of the Bentely CGT to be the answer to JB’s much hated W215 MB CL series? This is the reason I remember that Bentley went this route whether it was right or wrong.

    (I have JB’s most hated benz’s… the 04 W220 and an 06 W215..)

  • avatar
    GTAm

    What an excellent piece of analysis! I cannot agree with you more. Two thumbs up and I will post this everywhere I can. The design lacks any character at all imo. And that Flying Spur is a true modern horror!
    Hats off to VW though for figuring out that the world of luxury car buyers is full of ill-informed morons. :(

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    Superb piece of writing! It hit all the right nerves. True independent automotive journalism! I think Brooklands is the last true Bentley – technology and design wise. I’ve seen Brooklands and Continental stand side by side in London. Brooklands made Continental look like a joke, a cheap Chinese ripoff of the original.

  • avatar
    Les

    Jack? I’d just like you to answer me one thing before we bury this Bentley.

    If something goes `plooie on a CGT, can the owner expect the same experience going to the dealer for service that he would if something went `plooie on a Phaeton?

  • avatar

    In my area, metro NY burbs, Bentley means the following…

    “I’m surrounded by Mercedes cars in my ‘hood. AMG isn’t an unusual nameplate here. The Club’s lot has every high end car you can imagine. Hmmm, a Bentley….that would break the clutter”.

    Only you and a few B and B who can’t afford the car (me included) will care what is under the twelve layers of paint and the hand picked leather seats. BTW, I have driven the Phaeton.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Great timing! Jalopnik just gave the Continental GT V8 an 80/100 in their review…including 7/10 for “Value”. These sound like low scores, but they’re not. Under the new system, only the McLaren MP4-12C scored higher (85/100).

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The Bentley is made by Rolls-Royce. Except for the radiators, they are identical motor cars, manufactured by the same engineers in the same works. People who feel diffident about driving a Rolls-Royce can buy a Bentley.

    Diffident: Modest or shy because of a lack of self-confidence.

    I’m sure that sent the Bentley brothers rolling in their graves.

    Too bad VW never had the nerve to run:

    “The Bentley is made by Volkswagen. Except for the radiators, they are identical motor cars, manufactured by the same engineers in the same works. People who feel diffident about driving a Bentley can buy a Volkswagen.”

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Shouldn’t that read, “People who feel diffident about driving a luxury car without a luxury badge can buy a Bentley?”

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        I was tempted to keep Bentley as the diffident model. Diffident really isn’t the right word. Then or now. Rolls Royce was just, as the British apparently say, taking the piss out of Bentley in the original ad. Let’s go with “do not feel the need to overcompensate by.”

        “The Bentley is made by Rolls-Royce. Except for the radiators, they are identical motor cars, manufactured by the same engineers in the same works. People who do not feel the need to overcompensate by driving a Rolls-Royce can buy a Bentley.”

        “The Bentley is made by Volkswagen. Except for the radiators, they are identical motor cars, manufactured by the same engineers in the same works. People who do not feel the need to overcompensate by driving a Bentley can buy a Volkswagen.”

        Jack noted a rumor that GMC Yukon Denali buyers are actually wealthier than Cadillac Escalade owners. I wonder if the same holds true for the Continental GT/Phaeton. Probably not, since the price gap is so large, but it would be interesting if it did. Maybe for Phaeton W12 buyers.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The Mulsanne looks horrible in certain pictures, but having the correct proportions, unlike the Continental GT, makes it look good in real life. The Brooklands was a solid effort. Not as good looking as the Continental R/T, but at least it had an upright grille and didn’t look like the Celica whose demographics Jack was spot on about.

    If you are considering getting a Continental GT you should do yourself and your bank account a huge favor and get an Audi A5 2.0T. It is significantly better looking (it looks more like a proper Bentley than the Continental GT), and actually gets great mileage, not just the less crappy mileage of the turbo V8. Plus I’ve heard that Audi will paint it to sample.

    I am also seeing a lot of Fisker Karmas, which look amazing in person. One of the best looking cars currently in production. Also much better than a Continental GT. So what if it burns your house down, isn’t that why you own multiple houses?

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    It will be interesting to see what the price floor is for a Continental GT. Once they get to the $10,000 to $20,000 range VW mechanics can have some fun. The W12 grenaded? Swap in a VR6. Cheap Phaeton with engine problems and a low mileage Continental GT with body damage? Turbo W12 Phaeton.

    It would be funny to see Continental GTs with Phaeton front clips, like the VW kids used put MK4 Jetta front clips on MK4 Golfs, but I’m not sure the Continental and Phaeton are that compatible.

  • avatar
    th009

    In all this Bentley brouhaha, I complete forgot: the CGT no longer shares a platform with the Phaeton.

    Since 2011, the Continental GT has been based on Audi’s MLB architecture, so you’ll need to switch to Audi A8 jokes instead of Phaeton jokes.

  • avatar
    iainthornton

    For me, Bentley’s greatest period most people can remember is the ’90s. You had the Continental, the Arnage and the Azure. Not many people would argue against them as a magnificent lineup.

    Volkswagen may have increased sales enormously, but they’ve taken away the sheer majesty of Bentley in the process. The true successor to the Continental T must be the wonderful Brooklands. Still, give me a Continental T any day.

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    Right-on about the tacky, unworthy CGT.

    Wrong about one thing, though: the Phaeton is the ultimate car for idiots.

    And, to me, the Quattroporte looks like a glossed-over 90′s Buick Park Avenue.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    I must be Old or something but the Continental R and T series have to be some of the most beautiful cars ever built. I still remember seeing my first Continenral R coupe in BRG in a busy street and having that same rush of emotion that accompanied the sight of my first true love.
    Fact : Continental R LeMans genuinely hand made
    Fact: Only 46 were built
    Fact: more than 46 people want one and are prepared to pay 6 figure sums for them .

    The VW Bentley, as it was known as soon as soon as it was released has all the charm and character of a Hundai Ecel ,a sad fact reflected in the low prices obtained for them.
    In 2008 a friend asked me if I wanted to go 50/50 with him and buy one he had found going for 40 G. The seller was dissapointed with switches falling off ,high service costs and lies from the dealer ship service depot about reliability issues. Problems he had never had in 40 years of prior Real Bentley ownership.
    What todays VW bentley buyers must realize about VW’s part in this is,”if you laydown with dogs,you will get fleas. ”

    Continental R/S: 1504
    Continental R (1991–2002): 1236
    Continental S (1994–1995): 37
    Continental R California Edition (1998): 6
    Continental R (2000) Millenium Edition: 10
    Continental R Mulliner (1999–2003): 131
    Continental R 420 (2000–2003): 38
    Continental R Le Mans (2001): 46
    Continental T: 350
    Continental T (1996 — 2002): 322
    Continental T Mulliner (1999): 23
    Continental T Le Mans (2001): 5
    Continental SC incl SC Mulliner (1999): 79
    Cashing in a on a name is no guarentee of immortality is it?

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Oh…and Audi? since when did Audi gain any recognition as a quality car?
    maybe it was because I was bitten by a particularly disgusting Audi 100 years ago but to me they are a nothing car,devoid of anything worth ranting about . An A5 is an expensive polo …

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    ANY Volkswagen with a radiator is a piece of crap. WAKE UP PEOPLE!


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