2007 Bentley Continental GT GTC 6.0 W12 twin turbo petrol from UK and Ireland

Summary:

In a class of its own

Faults:

Tyre pressure monitoring system said there was a fault. This was probably due to the aftermarket alloys and tyres that had been fitted.

Parking sensors constantly going mad. This was probably due to the front bumper, which had been refitted at some point, was not quite square, and so the sensors were detecting themselves.

General Comments:

The convertible version of Bentley's Continental GT has always been my other half's favourite car. As a wedding present to ourselves, we hired one for a four-day weekend, and covered a total of 400 miles across a wide range of city, country, motorway, sunny and wet driving.

There really is nothing quite like the GTC, sitting alone in the 3-ton, convertible, four wheel drive luxo-tank category of cars. The first thing that strikes you is its unusual size. It's seven feet wide, sixteen feet long, and has a very high waistline, meaning mass is looming at you from all sorts of unexpected places. And yet the stylists have successfully managed to make it look almost sleek.

The wheels are truly enormous, and the 24" brakes were the biggest ever fitted to a road car at the time. The example we hired showed them off with even larger-than-normal aftermarket alloys. It all adds up to a presence unlike anything I had experienced in a car before. It made the equally priced Porsche 996 that I test drove recently seem like a go-kart.

Most of the appeal of the Bentley is in its astounding cabin. In a way, this car is at its best when sitting absolutely still in traffic. Sitting down on the enormous and very comfortable seats, you never want to leave again. The cabin combines the best of British craftmanship and quirkiness (knurled buttons, push-stop levers) with German sensibility and build quality (everything feels solid and well spaced apart). The centre information unit was a bit unintuitive at first, but I eventually began to understand how it combined physical buttons and generic i-Drive style digital menus.

Starting the engine was a thrill that I will never forget. The starter motor screeches away for a second, and then the deepest, lowest, smoothest W12 roar erupts seemingly from everywhere at once. It sounds like being constantly followed by a pack of Harley-Davidsons.

And now, onto the drive. The GTC is a strange blend of being easy and difficult to drive at the same time. Pro points are the wonderfully politically incorrect engine and gearbox, which keep the revs high and the flywheel spinning quickly at all times, ready for explosive acceleration at any time the driver wants. The 4WD system gave this 3-ton beast incredible grip and sure-footedness. Con points are the sheer size of the thing and the knowledge that a minor traffic ding will probably constitute a $5k repair.

Eventually, I threaded my way out of dense city traffic and was able to open up the throttle on the motorway. Predictably, 600 HP and lots of open space is quite a fun combination. The Conti will take off like the crack of a whip from pretty much any speed and conditions you can imagine, and will not let up until the driver begins to fear for his licence. 200mph is the published top speed, and I don't doubt it.

There was not a whiff of turbo lag, probably due to the engine's aforementioned tendency to keep the revs high at all times. The price you pay for this is that it will get through fuel like you will not believe. 15 MPG is likely in normal driving conditions. Do not buy one of these thinking you can take it easy and save at the pumps - it just doesn't work that way.

I noticed that it became a bit jittery and weavy above 90mph. This was probably due to the aftermarket alloys, which were definitely too big, and didn't leave enough tyre to soak up the road bumps. My advice is to go with the standard alloys.

Country roads were a blast, with the hood down, engine happily supplying all the power you could ever want, and 4WD system masterful in getting it around corners. I could see heads turning as we drove through villages - not really my intention, but it is a very striking looking car. Not one for a man who likes to keep a low profile.

The standard stereo is OK at best. Music aficionados should probably seek out the more expensive sound options - I think Harmon-Kardon can be installed.

In summary - I loved driving it, but am not sure if I would be up to the challenge of owning one for my everyday drive. You would need the heart of a lion and the resources of a Raja. I look forward to test driving a VW Phaeton in the future, which apparently has exactly the same underpinnings with less of the histrionics, and is even available in a sort-of-frugal diesel version.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th August, 2015

2005 Bentley Continental GT GT W12 Six litre from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Awesome, awesome and then some!

Faults:

Nothing.

General Comments:

This is a quality product that virtually no other supercar seems to match. My new Mercedes E-class is hardly 'rubbish' but it does seem so very cheap after driving the Bentley. The same goes for our DB7 and the Jaguar I have just sold.

It can outperform most road going cars and yet can be a luxury cruiser whenever you wish--this car does not look out of place rolling up to the Savoy, but a few hours later it could be flowing down an autobahn at 200 miles an hour!

The harsh ride and raucous noise of a low slung sports car is replaced by a deep growl and a truly wonderful sensation of solidity and fine engineering. I never tire of using it although depreciation calls for some measure of mileage control!

Whilst it has four seats, I have only driven it fully occupied for a hundred miles or so. No one was uncomfortable, but I cannot comment on really long distance travel with four up.

Naturally, reliability has been excellent and I have been impressed enough to put a new one on order for as soon as possible. This one will have 'electric' doors and boot lid---a considerable improvement on earlier models and a major reason for the change.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th January, 2007

18th Apr 2007, 05:50

Ha-ha-ha. Nothing has broken after 6000 miles of usage! Unbelievable reliability!!!

31st Jul 2008, 21:58

Do you know your car is basically a VW Phaeton?

21st Jun 2009, 18:32

As a Butler I have driven two of these cars in different jobs. The electric parking brake loves to seize. The tires develop flat spots over a holiday being parked. Front plastic grill is the wrong size and shape for the hood. Panel gaps are vast.

I have seen the engine overheat in the desert. Watch out or you'll get a surprise at how hot the front fenders become. Apparently the car's skin is part of its cooling system. Low speed ride is noticeably under-damped, surprising for a British limo.

The cruise control works superbly with that engine. Take-off from a stop is not so quick. There is simply too much mass to overcome. The dealer told me the car has two batteries and 50 processors on-board. If both batteries go flat it is apparently a major problem.

24th Apr 2011, 17:32

Man, these cars should be perfect for like a quarter million dollars?

25th Jul 2011, 15:36

Yes, one would think that these cars should be "perfect", but the truth of the matter is an automobile is a machine, and machines are hardly "perfect".