JUST the name captivates immediate attention. But a stint in this stunning Bentley was breaking stereotypes.
The flying "B" was there above the strapping grille, yet this Continental V8 GT is lithe and compact by Bentley standards.
With two doors and four-person capacity, it's no long wheelbase limousine. Channelling the brand's racing heritage this is the driver's Bentley.
Yet this is the basement of the Continental range. The bent-eight derivative starts from $370,000, and our test machine was also packed with a range of carbon goodies which took the cost well above $400k once on-roads are taken into account.
Attention to every detail pays homage to the brand. The smell of the leather upholstery, Breitling clock, manual style operation of the air vents via the chrome knobs and meticulously curved surfaces just make you want to run your hands across the confines.
The cabin looks and feels handcrafted with glorious double stitched leather covering everything in sight. There is even double-glazed windows to reduce road noise, and the sun visors are also leather clad.
All the operations are straightforward with easy access to air-con controls just below the touch-screen.
Both driver and passenger have 14-way electric seat adjustment, while the steering wheel also has power tilt and reach capability. The pews are cosseting on any journey, assisted by the air suspension, which can be firmed for more sporting performance.
Front seats fold and slide easily to allow access into the back, and while they offer equally lavish finishes there is restricted leg and knee room for adults.
On the road
Ever get sick of the radio or your iPod, just play the Bentley symphony that's available under your right foot.
Sure you can get a bigger donk with the W12 or Speed versions, but there is something special and alluring about a bent eight.
And despite pushing more than 2.3 tonnes the baby Bentley can dance. Exercise your angle and it can haul from standstill to 100kmh in less than five seconds.
Bringing it to life is done by the press of a button.
At start-up it growls with intent, yet burbles away quietly if you behave yourself. But where's the fun in that?
By pressing on the "B" in the middle of the shifter and selecting sport mode the GT has a charismatic bark with a savage burst of speed. It's brilliant how something with such prestige and accomplishment has a brutal spilt personality.
It's like the Queen telling you to "get stuffed".
With permanent all-wheel drive, offering 40:60 front to rear torque split, it also manages to hang on nicely in the bends.
Aided by 21-inch Pirelli rubber and self-levelling air suspension, which has the ability to firm or soften dampers depending on your driving intentions via console and touch-screen controls, you can throw the coupe at a corner and it feels beautifully assured.
Luckily the eight-speed auto is a cracker, and there is little need to make use of the oddly positioned paddle shifters, which sit high behind the steering wheel. Paddles are best attached to the wheel.
Yet cruising is the Bentley's forte, and it will glide at 100kmh and barely draw breath at 1500rpm.
Although we'd have to option the sports exhaust, the sound is too good not to enjoy.
What do you get?
Among the features list is the refined Breitling clock, 20.3cm touch-screen for the DVD/CD stereo (which also has TV capability, sat nav, satellite radio and Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity), dual zone air-con, air suspension, 20-inch alloys, bi-xenon lights with LED running lights, power boot opening and closing, along with keyless entry with push button start.
But where would one be without options? There are a wide selection of extras, like the carbon pack which costs about an extra $30,000, as well as things like different interior colours, TV tuner and massaging seats.
There are a few things, which should really be standard, like the rear view camera and radar cruise control…while blind spot monitoring isn't even an option.
Despite the four-seat accommodation, it is territory best left for two. Adults can fit in the back but things are tight in the legroom department.
Yet not all commonsense is lost. There is an excellent boot space, (which has a cool power opening and closing function by pressing the "B" on the badge), more than capable of handling the bride's shopping assault. You also get twin cup holders up front.
Fuel consumption is surprisingly reasonable. Daily driving would get about 11 litres for every 100km, which isn't bad for a V8. Insurance would no doubt be hefty, and Pirelli P Zeros are some high-end rubber.
The Continental GT boasts some amazing lines. The bulbous rear arches are sexy, and the grille makes its known there something special is coming the opposite direction.
Those knife-edge crease lines down the front wings are created when aluminium is heated to 500 degrees Celsius and shaped around a die using air pressure.
And the interior quality is simply majestic. That steering wheel alone takes about 15 hours to create.
I'd love to embrace my inner Englishman (even if Bentley is Volkswagen owned), then whine and moan about the experience…it's too fast, the impracticalities of a coupe, the fact you have to pay extra for an array of options after shelling out $370k. But I can't. The GT quickly cajoles you back into its corner with an addictive personality.
Possessing outstanding internal and external craftsmanship, it's a thing of beauty. And that exquisiteness is only improved by exploring the V8's virtues. British boldness at its best.
What matters most
What we liked: Handcrafted interior with wonderful curved surfaces, V8 soundtrack, outstanding head-turner looks.
What we'd like to see: Rear view camera, radar cruise control and blind spot monitoring standard, steering wheel mounted paddles instead of on the dash.
Warranty and servicing: Three year/100,000km warranty and servicing is every 15,000km or annual.
Model: Bentley Continental V8 GT.
Details: Two-door all-wheel drive luxury performance coupe.
Engine: 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 generating maximum power of 373kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 660Nm @ 1700rpm.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.
Consumption: 10.6 litres/100km.
Performance: 0-100km in 4.8 seconds; top speed 303kmh.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $370,000.
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