Old fashioned, hand made, but wonderful nonetheless
The high-pressure front lamp washers stopped working at 10,000m.
Alarm triggered randomly around the same time.
The car is wholly unlike any other I have owned. Before buying, I liked the idea of a handmade car, despite very negative experience with TVRs; after spending time with the Brooklands, one does question the reason for continuing producing Bentleys this way. There are squeaks and rattles that you would neither expect nor encounter inside mass-produced German rivals (made all the more evident by the quiet ride), and the heavy-duty door-hinges, while no doubt a prerequisite given the weight of the metal they support, are industrial in appearance and operation.
That said, as any Bentley fan will tell you, the car oozes charm from the sumptuous interior to the surprisingly vocal V8. It is, as they say, far more than the sum of its parts. Ostentatious, yes, but with that comes simply unbeatable road presence. It is huge, of course, but it feels very airy and roomy inside, like you are travelling around inside your sitting room. You will find yourself holding conversations far more than in any other car, and you will arrive at your destination feeling as though you've not actually been anywhere.
Rubs and squeaks aside, the quality of materials inside is top notch. Name plates on the engine show that a lone craftsman put the big Bentley lump together by hand. Yes, this is a positive! The chromed organ-stopper ventilation controls poking from genuine walnut will have passengers coo-cooing at the other-worldly British charm of it all.
Handling is not the least bit yacht-like. People will tell you that Rolls-Royces handle like barges, and lean round corners like giant despatch riders. Perhaps this is true of the RR, but it is not true of Bentleys. The ride is surprisingly crisp - yes, read again, one might describe it as firm - and not the nausea-inducing wafting motion everyone expects. It can be hustled down lanes at surprising speed, but don't expect anything weighing 2,930kg sitting on whitewall tyres to handle like a sports car. Because it won't.
The only true downside is the cost of running the car. A £50 tank of unleaded fuel will take that vast, 40 year old, Rolls-derived 6.75 turbocharged lump around 220 miles if you drive like you're part of a cortege. If you hurry you'll see perhaps 8 or 9 miles per gallon which is enough to make anyone's eyes water.
It is expensive to keep that Bentley service history up to date, far more so than the Mercedes-Benz S or BMW 7. Major services start at a whopping £1,500, but in return Rolls and Bentley dealerships give you a truly premium service. In all the years of buying cars, they are by far and away the most courteous, helpful and honest people I have met. They are in no way "snooty" or "detached"; the service I received from Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar dealerships is in my experience so much worse for this.
In short, the Bentley is a car that has surprised me. I had a few sleepless nights immediately after buying it, wondering if I'd made the worst decision ever, but after a short while the car begins to grow on you. Slowly but surely you begin to realise why Bentley can't make enough of them to keep up with demand. Even now I still get that eager twinge before driving it. Can't say anything more.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 19th January, 2002