YOU MIGHT argue that Bentley have gone back to their roots with their latest raft of cars.
Bentleys appeal to younger drivers these days than a generation ago when most aficiandos were tweedy veterans.
The original Bentleys were much loved by fast young things. The Bentley Boys of the 1920s were the rich young soccer stars of their day who loved life in the fast lane.
So the fact that cars such as the Continental GT V8 S Convertible is driven by drivers in their 30s and 40s as much as their 50s and 60s shouldn’t be surprising.
Neither should the fact that more women, it seems, are becoming Bentley drivers. During my week at the wheel of this stunning supercar, I spotted 10 similar models and several were piloted by females.
Hardly scientific, I know, and hardly big numbers, but in fact the Continental isn’t quite as rare as you might imagine. Certainly not considering its price tag. Convertibles start at £164,800 and the lavish test version topped £205,000.
It’s easy to see why it appeals to young guns.
So, what exactly do you get for two hundred grand? Well, it’s the quickest four-seater in the world and possibly the handsomest. It’s impossible to be anonymous at the helm of such a stunning car.
Yet it’s a pure and simple car at heart. The line are clean and powerful and it is both serene and potent at the same time. While £205,000 is obviously a fortune, there isn’t a better car for your money. If you’re successful, why not indulge?
What I found most surprising about this car is how easy it was to handle. It appears huge but it’s almost exactly the same size as a Mondeo and while it will rocket to 60mph in under five seconds, it is a car which demands to be driven sedately. Cameras and bleeps prevent you from expensive car park dints and you can set a speed limit to prevent you from interesting the law.
It soaks up potholes and it rides and handles firmly yet very very comfortably. You want the hood down? Press a button and the whole thing is away in seconds. Want the hood up? Repeat the process. And if you’re an exhibitionist, all the better for a crowd is sure to gather.
This is a car which appeals to petrolheads so let’s deal with the facts and figures. It’s a 4.0 litre V8 which sounds as good as it performs. Top speed is 191mph but don’t even think about it unless you fit two criteria. Firstly, you have your own track. Secondly, you have the ability of Nigel Mansell.
It will touch 34mpg on a run but you will suffer 17.5mpg if you only drive in town. Emissions of 254g/km means road tax won’t be cheap and Group 50E means insurance will be a pain.
But after a few miles you forget you’re driving a car worth a detached house in a smart area. Only pesky quick BMW and Audi drivers will remind you by seemingly wanting to race you. Don’t respond, you would only embarrass them and garner points. It’s enough to know you could. Really, it is.
It’s a cool-looking car with the hood up, but looks much leaner and cleaner with the roof folded away. For me, though, I’d prefer to save a few pounds and buy the coupe (from £140,300).
At 4.8m long, it’s similar in length to a Ford Mondeo but looks longer. It rides and handles crisply and effortlessly. The most impressive feature for me is not the performance or the equipment (though both are superlative) but the ride and handling.
The boot is big enough for weekends away. After all, this is a grand tourer. The car seats four but, being a 2+2, the rear seats are cramped.
It’s the attention to detail which also impresses. The leather, with hand cross stiching, is stunning and the carbon fibre veneer is designed to appeal to younger drivers without alienating older motorists.
The basic car, if there is such a thing with a Bentley, is £164,800, meaning the extra-cost options in this model total £41,055. They include boot carpet (£420), adaptive cruise control (£480), vehicle tracker (£1,400), Wi-Fi hotspot (£845) and deep-pile overmats to front and rear (£315).
The big costs though are for the Mulliner driving specification (£6,185) which includes 21in alloy wheels (stunning), drilled alloy foot pedal, embroidered Bentley emblems to the headrests, quilted and perforated upholstery, and the Premier specification (£6,895) which takes in a premier audio system, rear view camera, twin armrests, valet key and ventilated seats with massage function.
This model also adds an ‘extended sports specification’ at £14,380 which adds carbon ceramic brakes with red callipers, carbon fibre fascia panels and sports exhaust.
Now you could buy a Ferrari or a McLaren but really you’d be better off with the fastest four-seater on the road. Just make sure you’re a successful entrepreneur, footballer or lottery winner first.
Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible
THE CAR FACTS
Price: £164,800. Test model was £205,855, thanks to extras
Engine: A 3,993cc V8 engine generating power via all four wheels
Transmission: Automatic with manual mode
Top speed: 191mph
0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
Insurance: Group 50E
Economy: Town 17.5mpg; country 34.9mpg combined 25.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 254g/km
Warranty: Three years’ unlimited mileage