Category: Bentley

Bentley Reviews

Bentley was founded in England in 1919 by Walter Owen (W.O.) Bentley, who had previously designed engines for aircraft, including the BR1 which appeared in later versions of the Sopwith Camel. Economic circumstances such as insufficient funding and the depression led to the sale of Bentley to Rolls Royce in 1931. Overcoming a perpetually tumultuous existence, Bentley has been owned by The Volkswagen Group since 1998.
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.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Review Car Review Rating

By on July 11, 2008

Just the thing to impress them at the old ball game"OMG! It's Paris Hilton's car!" The bikini-clad blond with waiting-for-a-nuclear-blast sized sunglasses was impressed by the big black Bentley. "How much does it cost?" "How fast does it go?" "How did you get one?" An Abercrombie of bathing suits gathered around the British-built German car in the late summer sun. I didn't have the heart to tell them they were worshipping a false idol. So what if the Bentley Continental GTC is a four-wheeled Poptart, famous for being famous? Discretion is the better part of valet parking. I'd save my bubble-bursting for the Best and Brightest. And here you are. And here we go…

2009 Bentley Continental GTC Review Car Review Rating

By on July 17, 2005

 If you want a lesson in engineering excellence, drive the new Bentley Continental Flying Spur slowly. At 35mph, with just 1500rpms on the tachometer, the go-pedal responds to the slightest pressure with a perfectly measured amount of additional momentum. Reverse ditto the brakes. At the same time, the big Bentley’s power-assisted steering helms with an ideal combination of endless ease and infinite precision. All the Flying Spur’s systems work so well, and work so well together, that driving the $170k luxury car is an exercise in surgical satisfaction, offering complete mastery over a finely-honed instrument.

At full chat, the Continental Flying Spur has an ability to murder an open stretch of tarmac that beggars belief. She’ll steam from naught to 60mph in 4.9 seconds, and crest the ton just 6.4 seconds later. While you can pile on the mph’s without kickdown, why would you? Paddle, tip or auto– the Spur’s six-speed slips into lower gears like a supermodel slips into something more comfortable. And then the 17.4 foot luxobarge hurls itself down the road like God’s own fastball. No surprise, then, that the Flying Spur is the world’s fastest production sedan. Bentley turned down our request to enter the Spur in the Silver State Classic Road Race, which would have given it official membership status in their 200mph Club. Bugger!

 Never mind. The accelerative experience is a delight in and of itself. Straight line performance is both more dramatic (“Can you PLEASE warn me before you do that next time? I just put a line of mascara down my neck.”) and more mundane (“I’m sorry Darling. How fast did you say we’re going? Really? How marvelous. How do I look?”) than you could possibly imagine. Ironically, the leather-lined leviathan’s sumptuous interior isn’t wholly responsible for the muffled ferocity. It’s the Flying Spur’s underlying mechanicals that elevate the car to plausible deniability come ticket time.

All hail the Spur’s W12. The 6.0-liter powerplant’s configuration is bizarre (two narrow angle V6′s joined in turbo-charged matrimony), sonically eccentric (more whine than woofle) and entirely unsuitable for mass motoring (10mpg in city mode). And? In this rarified demographic, all that matters is that the VW-sourced mill produces a torque curve that’s almost as flat as week-old champagne. In the great Bentley tradition of barking mad waftability, we’re talking about 479lb-ft. of twist at 1600rpm. What can you do with that much oomph lingering underfoot? What CAN’T you do with it?

 Surprisingly, the answer to that question isn’t cornering. The Flying Spur changes direction with remarkable grace and conviction. Throw the 5000lbs. sedan into a corner and it leans a bit, and then hangs on for dear life (in the great Volkswagen Audi Group tradition). Understeer is out there, somewhere, but only truly determined stupidity will start sliding the beast’s nose towards the scenery. At any angle, the Spur’s multi-link rear axle and front double wishbones dismiss surface irregularities like a hot iron gliding over a wrinkled sheet. In fact, the air-suspended, four-wheel-drive Flying Spur offers more comfort and confidence through the twisties (long sweepers preferred) than its Continental cousin, the GT.

When it comes to style and cachet, both cars are so far ahead of the competition that it’s simply a matter of choosing between aesthetic aggression (GT) and dignified practicality (Flying Spur). The slow-selling Rolls Royce Phantom is the only car that can match the Continental Flying Spur’s exclusivity and charisma– for nearly twice the price. That said, the Flying Spur’s exterior seems distinctly clunky and unresolved in places. The disproportionately large rear lights detract from the overall design harmony, as do the bulbous, asymmetrical rear three-quarter windows. While we’re at it, the chrome side window surrounds don’t match the front and rear’s Darth Vader window treatment. Still, I wouldn’t kick the Spur out of bed for eating crackers.

 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. (It was almost a relief when the armrest’s aluminum end piece fell off.) The Spur’s ergonomics are also peerless, benefiting from the fact that the donor car– the VW Phaeton– was developed before mouse-driven computer controllers invaded luxury car sancta. Satellite radio, parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity are the only delights missing from the standard luxury car manifest.

Taken as a whole, the Bentley Continental Flying Spur is the world’s best sedan– provided you’re not a member of Greenpeace or a pistonhead who prefers a vehicle with an emotionally engaging personality. Make no mistake: the Continental Flying Spur possesses both an unquenchable appetite for fuel and a detached, Germanic persona. Even so, for the time being, the Flying Spur is as good as it gets.

By on October 20, 2004

   The world's most compact 12-cylinder engine (and aural Prozac), found in the Bentley Continental GT, VW Phaeton and Audi A8Once upon a time, a car's identity was buried deep in its DNA. In these days of multinational parts and platform sharing, brands are born in a marketing memo, then programmed onto a computer chip. Even the most discerning car hack struggles to tell where a Mercedes SLK ends and a Chrysler Crossfire begins. All of which begs the question: is the Bentley Continental GT, the company's first all-new model since Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated– sorry, since Volkswagen bought the firm, a 'real' Bentley?

Hell if I know. The GT was my first close encounter with the Bentley brand. But I'll tell you this: you can be ambling down the highway in a Continental GT, doing nothing more strenuous than listening to right wing radio, look down at the speedo and see 120 on the clock, no problem. If "GT" stands for "Grand Tourer", no car does it better.

Thanks to Audi's Quattro system, the GT dispatches long sweepers with mindless easeExcept maybe a VW Phaeton. As one of the few people who's driven Vee Dub's commercially questionable flagship equipped with a W12 engine, I can report that the shared powerplant accounts for much of the Bentley's charm. Tread lightly on the go-pedal and both cars will saunter through town as happily as a recently elected mayor. Mash the gas, and both machines will accelerate deep into triple digits like a [very heavy] thing possessed.

Of course, the twin turbo, 552-horse Bentley is significantly faster than its sister under the skin. The blown Bentley will scoot to sixty in 4.7 seconds, and on to a V-max of, I kid you not, 198mph. But the GT's basic nature– the way it piles on the speed in a single, seamless lunge– is the same; and there's nothing wrong with that.

The Bentley badge gives conspicuous consumption a good nameActually, there is. The world's most compact 12-cylinder engine produces aural Prozac. Despite Bentley's attempts to tune the exhaust note to suit the brand's sporting aspirations, the GT's engine has all the sonic sex appeal of a pixilated race car from a '70's arcade game. It's loud at idle, loud under load and… that's it. Considering the company's long tradition of stuffing big-block baritone V8's into the engine bay, the variable decibel drone is a major disappointment.

In the corners, the GT is fast and… that's it. Thanks to Audi's four-wheel-drive system, the baby Bentley dispatches long sweepers with mindless ease. But, as you'd expect, throwing the 5250-pound two-door into a sharp corner is a less than relaxing pursuit. If nothing else, the GT's fingertip light steering makes initial turn-in and mid-corner adjustment a very tricky business. Anyway, why bother? The Bentley is about as suited to thrashing as a Lotus Elise is to long road trips.

Enough butter soft leather to clothe a small German cityOh, and it may seem churlish to mention it, but the Continental GT guzzles gas like an alcoholic aristocrat quaffing Dom. In semi-hooligan mode, I burned a gallon of dead dinosaur every 7.4 urban miles. An extended session of interstate cruising managed to double the figure– just. Again, who cares? Stateside, the flying "B" above the radiator gives owners a free pass from any social and/or environmental obligation. And that's why the GT's sheet metal and interior, rather than its on-road dynamics, ultimately define the car's character.

Bentley's new owners worked hard to imbue their muscle coupe with brand-specific styling cues (e.g. twin headlights of varying size). To my eyes, the overall design looks like a squished, angular version of an Aston Martin Vanquish. The GT's shape, though vaguely British, lacks cohesion. In particular, the sharp creases on either side of the hood make the prow look as if it was formed by a Play-Do shape cutter. I reckon the Chrysler 300C is a better looking Bentley. But hey, that's me. Most people consider the GT a suitably British "gentleman's express".

The new 'baby' Bentley four-door will be built at the Dresden Phaeton factory.  Is it beginning of the end of the marque's Britishness?Once inside, the olfactory sense overwhelms aesthetic sensibility. 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. I reckon the GT's immaculate upholstery is the car's finest hour, in perfect keeping with Britain's bespoke tailoring tradition.

From there, it's straight back to the Fatherland. The GT's main display screen and attendant buttons are lifted straight from the Phaeton. All the switches– even the signature "organ stop" vent controls– work with Germanic precision. And in case you missed the point, the words "Made in Germany" are written in large type at the base of the cigarette lighter.

Is that a bad thing? Is it fair to diss the GT simply because it didn't evolve from the brand's original DNA? That depends. If you believe an automobile should reflect the engineering and design gestalt of its native land, then no, we shouldn't impugn this mighty machine. The Bentley Continental GT is a truly superb German automobile.

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