Bentley Continental GT Speed 2008
Handmade, as they say. I’ve noticed that in automotive industry, “handmade” is very often a synonym for “heavy-weigh.” The Bentley had a kerb weight of 2,3 tons, and that’s quite a lot for a car that’s 4,8m long. And has only two doors. There are good and bad things about it – the good being that the car was really good to drive and felt extremely comfortable and stable at high speeds. At speeds which are unfortunately most definitely illegal in most European countries.
On the flipside, on turning at regular urban speeds a lot of the weight could be felt by the driver, as most of it was at the front. I now drive a Mercedes S600 which has roughly the same weight, but as the car itself is larger and the weight of Merc seems to be more evenly distributed, this problem doesn’t arise. In the Bentley, though, it was very noticable.
I bought the Bentley because of its buttons. I especially liked the solid seat heating scrollbar, which for models from 2011 onwards has been replaced by plastic push buttons to accomodate for the simultaneous heating and cooling functions. Another favourite of mine was the solid metal take on the flappy paddle gearbox. The list goes on and on – bringing us to the interior finish on the Bentley. To which I’d give 12 points. Out of 10.
I had the Continental GT Speed, which had an extra 65 bhp but also lower, stiffer suspension compared to the regular Continental GT. All in addition to minor exterior design changes, such as larger exhaust pipes, a tinted front grill, etc. Were I to buy another Bentley, I’d go for the Continental GT and skip the Speed. Obviously I have nothing against more power, but the weight combined with its stiff(er) suspension is something I would avoid. I’m not saying it was that bad, but standard suspension would make it better. Much can be done by NOT following factory instructions on tire pressure, which is something like 2.9/3.0 bar for all four wheels – adjust the tires to around 2.2-2.3 and you get a much smoother ride out of your Bentley. Although yes, if you want to drive really fast, you can’t rely on lowering your tire pressure by that much.
I really liked the Bentley’s exhaust. It has a valve system, meaning that unless the driver exceeds a certain rev level, the car is rather quiet. It makes a roarhhh on starting the engine, and you can then drive it in a civilised manner. Once you put your foot down the exhaust valves open and the sound, which previously had been diverted, is now allowed to escape – all the W12 noise you could ever want, there at the push of a pedal. I know some Bentley owners manually modify the valves so that engine noise can always be heard, but I was never interested in such modifications; I don’t want to be noticed purely because of the sound of the car. The attention its looks brought was more than enough – I didn’t need the noise to emphasise this.
I do have two small qualms about the Bentley. I think every Continental GT owner knows that the automatic trunk open/close function is a constant headache. Every now and then it malfunctions and doesn’t close the trunk evenly on all sides, or at all. I know that some Bentley dealers actually suggest buyers order the car without this optional extra. If you’re about to order a Bentley, this is an idea worth considering. Hopefully it’ll be fixed for the Bentayga.
Secondly, it was impossible to use an iPhone over Bluetooth in hands-free mode. My car had the latest software installed, and the iPhone ran the latest version of iOS. That’s where the problem lay – the latter was too up-to-date. Had my phone been running on an older version, it would’ve connected. As it was, the Bentley software was useless with my Apple device. I can’t complain too much about this sort of issue – after all, I did buy a used Bentley, and some quirkiness is to be expected when buying a used car. But the fact of the matter is, even if you bought a brand new Bentley for over €200,000, you still wouldn’t have been able to connect to the car via Bluetooth. Unless you use an older iPhone or one with an outdated iOS. Which is rather unlikely for someone buying a new Bentley.
In general I liked the Bentley – I think the Continental GT and GT Speed are one of the most driveable cars for daily use in their price range from an exclusive manufacture. A Lamborghini Huracan isn’t exactly suitable for the daily commute in my mind, nor is a Porsche Carrera Turbo S, and I’ve had some very “bumpy” experiences with different Aston Martins. And a Ferrari isn’t even worth talking about. Exceptions might include the Mercedes Benz 63 and 65 AMG models, but they’re still Mercs, not vehicles handmade in the UK, Italy, etc. The Rolls-Royce Wraith and Dawn might be suitable for daily use, but the Continental GT is still a “mass production” car compared to an RR, which translates to a much lower price tag.