Like the beginning of any career you can expect two routes to your dream job. You can choose to leave school at 16 and get stuck in, head down and start climbing the corporate ladder in the hope of someday ending up in a top of the range Vauxhall Insignia or you can stay at university, grow a trendy beard and apply for some “research” grants to keep you and your beard looking superduper while your complicated tech start-up that you now own 6% of waits for Mr Zuckerberg to call at your office in Titanic Quarter with one of those big Charity Cheques for 872 hundred billion dollars.
Last week I sort of bucked the career trend with the arrival of the Bentley Continental GT V8 S landing at the office for us to review. In career development terms I’ve left school at 14 and the big fat Cheque has been delivered by my new buddy “Zuck” before my beard got a chance to take over my face. My first proper job as a motoring journalist (I’ll use that term loosely for now) and £164,000 of Bentley Continental awaits. So far so good!
The Bentley tested has a base price of about £148k and this car has roughly £18k of options ticked like the Concours Series Black Specification coming in at an eye watering £7,600. In my opinion essential, adding a number of cosmetic improvements, noticeably the massive 21 inch black alloys and a sports exhaust system that delivers an orchestral purr at low speeds and unleashes an almighty thundering storm when you push your right foot down hard – It’s so addictive that I can’t tell you how good the sound system was as I didn’t turn it on once to find out, but being attached to a Bentley I can hazard a guess thats its probably quite fantastic. When the need to move at pace in this car arises, and it will quite often, for no reason at all – the exhaust fires out the 521 horsepower, 4 litre twin turbo under the bonnet like Thunder, the car changes in an instant from a floaty dreamy paradise to a fire spitting hard core thundering legend. The only time I’ve previously heard this much noise and felt this much power hurtling me down a strip of tarmac there was a pilot involved and a trolley full of mini Gin & Tonics to keep me entertained. The noise of the Bentley when let loose is something I have yet to see replicated outside of the Jaguar F Type, but the F Type is on a more permanent rage and appears to be incredibly angry from the moment you start the engine. Every time you pop to the shops to buy a pint of milk in the Jag it sounds like a couple of Spitfires launching an attack. The Bentley on the other hand gives you the option of frightening the life out of the neighbours or slipping off unnoticed. It’s sublime!
Inside the cabin you’re surrounded by leather and brushed chrome as you would expect in any Bentley across the range. The layout of the dash is uncomplicated and dare I say it even a little ipad-ish in terms of ease of use and simplicity – The large central touchscreen takes care of all multimedia including TV controls as well as some of the cars set up allowing you to fiddle with the suspension settings making the ride softer or harder depending on your driving style. Personally, we kept within the softer settings as I am in my 30’s now and a bit old and achy most of the time. The electric seats offer heated or cooling as an option as well as a full back massage which is weirdly lovely and slightly weirder again when you are giving the car the beans down the M2. Visibility is good all round and despite looking like it’s the size of Canada it’s actually very easy to drive and park around town. The steering in particular around town is light and feedback at higher speed is as near perfect as you’ll get.
Overall we couldn’t find fault with the car. If you’re in the market for a GT car and have about £150 to £200k kicking about and German cars are a little too common for you, then it’s the Bentley or a Ferrari California you’ll be after but I suspect you’ll buy the Bentley and love every minute of it as we did.
- Price Tested: £160,500
- Engine: 3993cc, V8
- Power: 520bhp
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Performance: 0-60mph in 4.3sec
- Top speed: 192mph
- Fuel: 26.4 (combined)
- CO2: 250g/km
- On Sale now at Charles Hurst Specialist Cars, Boucher Road, Belfast T 0844 659 7638 or visitwww.charleshurstgroup.co.uk/bentley
Reviewed by Barry O’Doherty
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