Bentley Continental brings luxury muscle style

In the world of no-money-is-no-thing motorcycles, Ferrari and Lamborghini compete for the title of top sports car, and Rolls-Royce holds the throne in luxury. So what is Bentley? Where does it fit in this world of easy-to-make $ 200,000 cars?

After a weekend in a 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible, I say that Bentley has produced muscle cars to cater to the high demand.

With the optional Sports Exhaust System, the engine on the Continental GT V8 S produces a deep, deep growl worthy of a Chevy Impala SS ’67 every time I press the gas. Ability to drop rags to enhance exhaust notes. Strong wheel arches and wide rear fenders are known as 21-inch wheels. Round headlights evoke 1960s design.

Despite using Bentley’s smaller engine, the Continental GT V8 S offers complete satisfaction behind the wheel. Just four liters, this engine comes with the six-liter V-12 offered in the Continental and as standard in Mulsanne . However, the twin turbochargers are fitted to the engine’s V-shape, one per row of cylinders, along with direct valve injection and control, delivering 521 hp and 502 pound of torque. -feet.

That power is transmitted to all four wheels, in a 40:60 ratio between the front and rear axles, through an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. The Continental GT V8 S is formulated for high speed and excellent handling. At the same time, it proved to be outstanding steering, able to move comfortably in traffic without electric shock or lag.

As Bentley calls the white paint on the Continental GT V8 S, with a black fabric upper, the car should lack fanfare. Furthermore, the outer body is kept away from generous jewelry, an automotive design term for reflectors, lenses and other bright works. The headlights are merely located in metal holes of the same body color, while the painted black grille seems to be hidden.

It may seem unbelievable, but the Continental GT V8 S will conquer you with its driving dynamics.

Wayne Cunningham / CNET

Despite the effort that seemed to hide public attention, the Continental GT V8 S drew admiring gazes, waves, whistles and numerous car swap offers as I drove it. . The car exudes a subtle magnetism, and is a lesson for designers that an art-molded bodywork is worth more than a chrome cargo ship.

Jealousy turned to total jealousy when passersby had to look into the cabin, a scene created by the open top. I was there, sitting on two-tone diamond quilted leather and beautiful bright trim, an area of ​​the car where the designers removed the subtle accents of the exterior with natural materials. High Quality. For me, the high-gloss wood trim usually looks like plastic, even in expensive Lexus and Mercedes-Benz sedans, but the Continental GT V8 S’s dashboard looks as solid as a Chippendale office. .

I should warn those who can really afford the Continental GT V8 S that opening the lid on a sunny day and a nice shiny can result in very uncomfortable hot buttons, as I have seen when it comes to reset the above. Poor, miserable fingers of the rich and famous.

The Continental GT V8 S boasts room for four on thick leather with sophisticated stitching.

Wayne Cunningham / CNET

The dashboard-mounted Breitling timepiece is certainly a step up from a mere digital display on an ordinary car, but one thing has shown me how superior the Continental GT V8 S is above all else. the car I used to own was my rearview mirror. Looking at this rectangular glass is like seeing the world behind me in HD. The crystal clear reflection shows only one aspect of the attention to detail that Bentley craftsmen have given to this car.

Tire noise

Sometimes the training just makes sitting in the Continental GT V8 S a great experience, the real joy comes from starting the engine and plunging into the street. I mentioned the engine’s great growl. That sound with smooth, powerful, and easy acceleration. Bentley cites figures from 4.5 seconds to 60 miles an hour. Instead of throwing me roughly into the saddle when I hit the gas, the Continental GT V8 S moved forward with the helplessness of a ship.

Though I had previously experienced the 616 horsepower output of the six-liter W-12 in Bentley GT Speed ​​Convertible I hardly feel deprived by the less power of the Continental GT V8 S.

The large shift lever for the eight-speed automatic makes a centerpiece on the dashboard.

Wayne Cunningham / CNET

The large bar of the shift lever serves as a legacy ornament, another surface for the B badge, as the eight-speed automatic transmission uses electronic control. A Sport slot in the port for that shifter keeps the engine running a bit faster, with power only slightly more readily available on gas.

On a zigzag road, I couldn’t drive the car fast enough to take the Sport drivetrain to its strongest point, so rely on the paddle shift lever, holding a second gear for tight curves. Bentley spec says this ZF gear changes gears in 800 milliseconds, fast enough for my purposes.

Even with the Pirelli P Zero’s rubber chirping in corners, I was still a bit isolated from the road surface to feel the torque-adjusting all-wheel-drive system between front and rear. Like other Bentleyisans, this large convertible features an air suspension that adapts to four settings, from Comfort to Sport. Transitioning across the range, I didn’t find a huge difference in ride quality. Even in Comfortable mode, the suspension doesn’t feel uncomfortable or feels particularly soft. Using a torsion gauge, Bentley press documents say the Continental GT V8 S is the hardest convertible in the world.

From the driver’s seat, the car feels unrestrained by curves, the steering provided me with easy aiming and shooting response.

The Sport Exhaust option delivers a loud, raspy growl at acceleration.

Wayne Cunningham / CNET

While the Continental GT V8 S shows a lot of traction and handling, I feel that it lacks a lot of feel to drive. And, one thing that I have noted in previous Bentley cars, the car makes it too complicated to switch suspension settings. Pressing a button on the dashboard brings up the settings on the touchscreen, where I can press the buttons on either end of the scale from Comfort to Sport to adjust the ride. A better approach would be to have the button switch control over the various settings, with intuitive feedback on the LCD screen.

Electronic potential

Speaking of the touchscreen, I was disappointed to see a slow response, far below what I’ve been used to with tablets. Since a typical Bentley owner could deliver an iPad for Christmas, the electronics in the cabin could be a point of interest.

The system in the Continental GT V8 S is based on an 8-inch touchscreen for its interface and includes a hands-free phone, navigation and stereo system. The example I’m driving casually is a European specification car, so there might be some differences for American models. However, I cannot imagine the improved response times of the touchscreen.

For US customers, Bentley promises to integrate Google Earth into the navigation system similar to those on the company’s sibling Audi models. That means satellite images of the terrain you are driving. I just have a basic system map, stored on a 30GB hard drive, to see.

Bentley will provide Google Earth integration, with displayed satellite imagery, for navigation.

Wayne Cunningham / CNET

The navigation system took me to my destination, but I was a little nervous as it directed me to a surface road of a particularly bad neighborhood, when I learned about a nearby highway that would make a route. road faster and safer.

As a trademark of the Volkswagen Group, I know that plugging an iPhone into a stereo system will require long access to a glove compartment and require an Apple 30-pin to Lightning adapter. The placement of this connector is poor if you want to hook up your iPhone, though if you can buy a Bentley you can definitely buy a car-only iPod.

The Lightning adapter’s cheap analog-to-digital converter didn’t let music played through the Naim sound system in the Continental GT V8 S shine with the glory it could certainly do. This 11-speaker system features a 900-watt amplifier; and having heard the same Naim system in Bentley cars playing from better quality sources, I know it can deliver authentic audiophile sound, with fine detail at all frequencies.

With the details incorporated into the vehicle system and a good sound system on the Continental GT V8 S, it would be great if Bentley put a better effort on the infotainment system. Although not a traditional focus area for luxury cars, Bentley can help set a new standard. The company can certainly pull out the coolest gear I’ve seen on Audi models.

And while this model uses a smaller engine than some of the Continental’s stable counterparts, this isn’t a cheap Bentley. The base price for the Continental GT V8 S Convertible 2014 is $ 216,200. A range of options, including massage chairs and electric starter caps (trunk, for Americans), have added around $ 30,000 to the total price. The must-have option on my mind is Sports Exhaust, which costs $ 2,480.

Overall, this Continental breed example costs $ 250,665, making it the most expensive muscle car I’ve driven.

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