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It is cars like these that make working on weekends a pleasure. I stepped into Dubai Marina Bentley showroom on a Saturday at precisely 9am to pick up the Continental GT V8, a new addition to Bentley Emirates fleet. Priced at 875,000 AED, this is my most expensive test car to date. And no, it's not the "full options" model. Like all premium luxury experiences, Bentley cars are designed and priced precisely based on the client's taste. You can customize virtually anything, ranging from interior colors to diamond coatings on your steering wheel (no thank you). As a potential Bentley client, I have to evaluate every aspect of this car to ensure it meets the highest benchmarks I set in every other aspect of my life. In short, this car should define who I am. Does it? Let's find out.
Do you believe in love at first sight...or should I walk by again? I don't think Continental GT will ever have the need to use this cheesy pick up line. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the sexiest executive coupes in the market. The only ones who come close are BMW M6 Coupe and upcoming Volvo Concept Coupe. I love the Dark Sapphire color choice. The style is both aggressive and refined. The character lines on the side are strong and simple, nothing too fancy which is a good minimalist approach. The dual 'figure eight' exhaust tips stand out from the crowd. The lights are bi-Xenon upfront with LED inclusions all around. The 20 inch ten spoke wheels look great, though I would rather go with the 21 inch optional 6 spoke wheels. The front bumper is where you really need to be though. The shape of these headlights is very distinctive. Add to that a black mesh chrome matrix grille and you have a winner.
What was I expecting to find in a Bentley interior? Plush, comfortable high grade leather, premium wood trim and immaculate finishing. All of that is true, but we expect that in a Bentley. What took me by surprise were little things. The crease lines for example are sharp, straight and firm, something you don't get to see in a lot of premium cars, especially on the winged bucket seats. The interestingly named Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus veneer contrasts attractively with the interior color scheme. The analog clock inside is a Breitling. There is a small pocket with lid on top to keep business cards. It's little things that make all the difference.
The Continental GT is not overloaded with technology fluff. Rather it sticks to it's minimalist approach by focusing on key features and building on them. For example the seats have 14 way adjustment including lumbar and nose extension. An automatic seat belt presenter helps you buckle up by bringing the belt forward as soon as you sit inside. The A/C controls are chrome organ stop controls which prove to be a welcome differentiator from the touch-happy luxury crowd. The infotainment system houses an eight inch touchscreen with all the usual suspects, 15 GB storage capacity of music and iPod compatibility. The same system guides you on the car system settings, including tyre pressure, suspension etc. The best part is built-in wifi so your Bentley has internet at all times. My recommendation for future iterations is to think about a sexier gear shifter. This one retains the traditional shifter whereas everyone else is going for a BMW inspired shifter.
Practically speaking the space is quite adequate upfront, however rear legroom is quite limited so it will be difficult for an adult to sit there. This is more of a kid space. The boot space is ok for a couple of shopping bags or golf kits but smaller than, say a Toyota Camry. Also if you're above 5'8 ft in height you might have head room issues as a driver, since the magnificent shape of the GT trades off with a smaller roof. The silver lining is a dual pane sunroof which creates a more spacious ambience.
I loved driving the Continental GT V8. I drove it the entire Saturday, causing consternation at home but who cares?! Here's the lowdown:
This is a 3,993 CC machine generating 506 bhp at 6000 RPM. Max torque is 660 Nm and available at only 1700 RPM. So as you can imagine, a deft touch on the pedal and you can feel the torque bursting through the seams. The V8 rumble is pleasurably distinctive. Top speed, should you aspire to explore is over 300 km / h. This is an all-wheel drive with 8 speed automatic transmission, complete with paddle shifters which operate butter smooth. On our tests, we got 0-100 km acceleration of 6.0 seconds, which could be better in cooler climate conditions.
These are superior brakes with 100-0 km braking time of 4.5 seconds. Cornering is an absolute treat. This is one of the best handling cars I have driven. There is a hint of oversteer but definitely no understeer. The steering wheel could be a bit more heavier in my opinion for even better handling. On the other hand the nimble steering increases responsiveness so it's an acceptable compromise. Keep in mind this is a heavy car, over 2 ton weight and despite that we were able to drive it in hard corners at speeds over 100 km but it stuck to it's lines with dependable road grip. Having said that, this is nowhere near track level sport credentials and it's not meant to be. For an executive luxury coupe it exceeds expectations.
Needless to say this is a gas guzzler with fuel tank capacity of 90 liters giving claimed mileage of 800 km on a full tank. Our tests showed average fuel consumption to be 16 L / 100 km which is to be expected. The suspension by default is on the 'luxury cruiser' side, however it can be adjusted to allow for a sportier ride.
Loved it. One of the best luxury cars I have ever driven, both in terms of performance and interior. It's not the most spacious car in it's segment and it could beef up it's technology offerings a bit. Apart from that it's a keeper.