When this Bentley Continental GT V8 Coupe pulled up out front and Pedro from DriveShop got out, you could see this is one big car. Pedro is over 6 foot tall, lean and built like a football player. With the silver in his hair, he looked just right for a successful male driving this car. I could only hope that Dave and I could match up during our three-day sojourn with this legendary motorcar.
I call it a motorcar because that is what it is. Bentley is one of those iconic brands that has never strayed far from its early twentieth century roots. The Bentley Motorcar was created by W. O. Bentley, an automotive enthusiast, who in 1919 he produced what at the time was one of the fastest and most dependable racing automobiles. Here we are a century later and the world is driving SUV’s, and Bentley makes the Bentayga, an SUV, though big burly station wagon style sport utility vehicles are not always the answer.
For the Memorial Day 2021 weekend luck was on my side with a 2021 Bentley Continental GT V8 in stunning Ice exterior color, a metallic white, with Cricket ball and Beluga Hyde, a red and brown colour, with piano black veneer, delivered to me for a media review for the weekend.
I have to say it does not take long to realize if you like a car or not, and it was within the first mile that I was in love with this amazing motorcar. The power of the V8 engine, is one of the most refined eight-cylinder engines I have drive. it was quiet and very well mannered. Even though you knew it had a lot of power and commanded plenty of attention.
I must say, driving a more than quarter of a million US Dollar automobile is always an interesting experience. it was not much different than the last time I drove a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. I was more self-conscious that others around me were going to run into me, as they looked at the vehicle. While the Bentley is a truly decadent road-car, it is one that has earned its chops. It was not long before I settled into the rich bitch driver role. Little olde me, just smiling to myself knowing that this amazing car was something that I could aspire too. And as one of my clients shared, oh they are a dime a dozen in Palm Beach.
While the first day of my weekend media/press loan of the Continental GT was rainy, and as the old adage goes, never test drive a car on a rainy day. Though a quick online search turned up no old wife’s tales on test driving in the rain. Maybe it is because you can’t really see the exterior of the car, or that the roads will be slippery. Well there was no question, I knew what the outward design of the GT was like, actually it was the interior, I wanted to get familiar with.
I found very little not to like about this two-hundred sixty-two thousand, nine-hundred and eighty US dollar motorcar. Though it was lacking a few amenities that we see in mere mortal cars, like adaptive cruise control and headlamps that follow the steering, it had plenty of others that were quite impressive. A manned self-park option, though I never used it, all-wheel drive and four-wheel steering. That is the thing about today’s modern technology, if you do not use it, why pay to have it? Or if you have it, do you just automatically use it without thinking.
I drove this vehicle close to the 300-miles allowed for my media loan, taking it around town, on Washington DC’s Beltway and over to Maryland’s Eastern Shore driving on country roads as well as main highways. In all the drivability of this coupe is wonderful. The four-liter twin-turbocharged premium fueled V-8 engine was quite well mannered with power when you need it. Mated to a eight-speed dual clutch gearbox with paddle shifters and active all-wheel drive this Bentley was a delight to take on a road trip. And with cylinder de-activation, four cylinders, valve and fuel is deactivated at light load, fuel economy was not bad carrying two passengers. We averaged a little more than 20-miles per gallon.
While the interior is richly designed with “Hyde” not leather, quilted seating surfaces with the Bentley monogram in the headrests, the seats were quite comfortable. And the front seat passenger and driver had plenty of leg room. The rear seating area was just as richly detailed. Though not much leg or knee room for those rear seat passengers, unless the front seats were moved up significantly. Power outlets are plentiful, and that rich piano black trim was gleaming with the bright silver edges, a little much in bright sunlight, that I had to put my hand up to catch the glare. All the surfaces were amazing to the touch, and the switchgear was all solid and felt good to the touch. The 12.3-inch center touchscreen provided plenty of useful information, the navigation was not as in-depth as Audi’s is, though it provided plenty of correct and consistent information. I had hoped for the Bentley rotating display, but it was not included in this specific motorcar. The Bang & Olufsen for Bentley sound system was quite nice, though when you are paying a $6,835 optional price, I really wanted it to be AMAZING.
While the trunk was not enormous, though it was well appointed with its own removeable matt. It is large enough for luggage, golf bags, and is built with a pass through to the back seat, so you can carry skis or other long, thin items, via a door inside the trunk that could be locked or unlocked, and a removable panel in the passenger cabin. And no the rear seats do not fold-down, nor did I expect them to. The trunk lid has a automatic close button which can be helpful, and is sort of expected at this level of motorcar.
Let’s talk about the Continental GT’s V8 engine: It is a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 TSI Capacity with 243.9 cubic inches Induction. The 2x twin-scroll turbochargers provide 550 PS / 542 bhp / 404 kW @ 6000 rpm Torque 770 Nm / 568 lb.ft @2000-4500 rpm.
The 86mm Bore x 86 mm (3.39 inches) stroke with a Compression ratio 10.1:1 Preimium Fuel delivery is through Direct injection. With 95-98 RON Valve gear 2x overhead camshafts, adjustable duration, 32 valves Cylinder. And this engine features deactivation. Four cylinders, valves and fuel deactivated at light load.
And if you want more power, you can jump up to a twelve-cylinder engine. But looking into that engine bay, where on earth would it go?
This is truly a handcrafted car, something of a rarity in today’s world. And when ordered each one has infinite possibilities as they are built to the buyers exact specifications. No two of them will be exactly alike. Which is nice when you are paying over a quarter of a million for one. And at that price, it is nice to know what you are buying is worthy and you do get what you pay for, and this motorcar will hold its value, as the Bentley brand is not just some fly by night company. It has a long history of performance and longevity which its well-heeled owners appreciate.
After spending three days in this delightful motorcar V8 coupe, I have to say I was impressed with it. And can see why it has such a cache around the brand and this car. It is not just a look at me status symbol of I got the bucks, it really and truly is a technological work of art.
Would I buy one? Absolutely! Can I afford one? Not on what I make! And if I was in a position to afford one, I would probably spec it out at an even higher price point than this review vehicle.
Bentley produces just 85 cars per day. With a production of just over 11K cars in 2019, with examples being delivered all over the globe. Since this modern Continental model debuted in the 2003, there have been just 80K individual examples produced as of earlier this year. Even with that it will be hard to find two that are exactly alike, though it would be fun to research that.
On the 21st of May of 2021 marked the 75th anniversary of the Bentley Motorcar being produced at its Crewe factory in the UK. Two-hundred and six unique models and 197,086 cars handcrafted since then,
The modern Bentley era Continental GT has been inspired by the R-Type, the first Continental GT. And this Continental GT has established an entirely new market segment for the modern luxury Grand Tourer. Over time the style, technology and engineering beneath the car has evolved significantly to what it is today. And the 2021 Model is as different from the 2003 model, as these modern motorcars are from their ancestor.
Bentley’s skilled craftspeople – many of whom will have carefully crafted these cars continue to be part of the Bentley family. It is that combination of fine craftsmanship, using skills that have been handed down through generations, alongside engineering expertise and cutting-edge technology is unique to this United Kingdom luxury car brand.
Remarkably, eighty-four percent of all Bentley motorcars built in Crewe for the UK market are still on the road today, with that number growing at unmatched levels.
If W.O Bentley were alive today, he would be proud to slip behind the wheel of these technological motorcars and would no doubt have a few things to say about the modern automotive racing sport. As it was his vison to build racing cars, not just touring motorcars.
Words and Images by William West Hopper
Mr. Hopper has written about automobiles and trucks for various publications throughout his career. You can find him leading VIP Tours at the Washington DC Auto Show each year. He has served as the President, as well as Vice President and Treasurer of the Washington Automotive Press Association, where he led the all volunteer group to new heights and provided members with benefits and networking opportunities to better serve their outlets.
Today you will find Mr. Hopper driving electric cars as well as different media cars. Follow him on any number of social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok. Go ahead and connect with him on LinkedIn.
We want to thank the Bentley Motorcar Company USA Team as well as Ben from Shadow for their support in loaning this vehicle for review. No compensation was provided for this review, other than the use of the vehicle for three days and a full tank of premium fuel. Mr. Hopper provided and funded the tolling puck used on toll roads. Please follow us here on this site, as well as listen to this review on our podcast, available on Spotify, Apple Music, Anchor, and other popular podcasting sites. Do click on our Queer4Cars YouTube Channel, follow us there and like our videos. That will provide us more opportunity to bring you additional stories about cars and trucks as well as the automotive lifestyle