The cars we loved.
In these sordid economic times, we all find ourselves cutting back. For the super wealthy cutting back is a relative term. For some it might mean stepping down to a two or three million dollar house instead of the $20 million one on a private island. Where cars are concerned, the trend towards modest appearances is also relative where expensive exotics are concerned.
Take the Bentley Continental GT V8 for instance. It’s essentially a scaled down version of the V12 versions of the Standard and Speed models that hundreds of sheiks buy and rappers rent for music videos. The move towards a smaller more earth friendly power plant did not come out of a need for fiscal conservatism, but more likely from the pressures of world-wide efficiency standards. Judging from the high number of Bently cars featured in extravagant pop media, you’d be forgiven if you thought Bently was not worried about full compliance right now. It would seem that it’s over the top celebrity customers are more than willing to pay for any associated guilt tax for leaving a deeper footprint in the ecosphere.
The GT represents Bently’s green face, as its V8 is the fuel sipper in Bently’s lineup of mostly 12 cylinder cars. The GT looks very much like the Continental Speed, but was actually an all new model from the ground up. Back in 2008 Bentley along with Audi, develop the twin-turbo with cylinder deactivation technology. The 4.4L V8 pumps out 500 hp while returning 24 mpg. While that figure might not make a Prius owner envious, the Conti can claim to have the one of the lowest power to emissions ratio of any supercar at the moment.
A 530 mile range is the greatest ever for any Bentley. That’s good news because the interior stays true to Bently conventions of comfort with all the opulence expected of a $130,000 car. The smooth silky ride thanks to an advance suspension that uses a continuously damping control. Stability is also aided by large 20 or optional 21 inch wheels. No compromises are made to the exterior design as the Conti V8 is a progression of the previous Continental, employing a new process Bentely calls superforming helped form curves that recall the 1950’s R-Type Continentals. While many GTs come with a blacked out grille, they are subject to many of the customization options of other Bentleys, so no two may be alike.
Despite the “small” engine GT drivers won’t be skimping too much on performance. The GT’s all wheel drive system has a 40/60 rear drive bias. The extra traction mated with a 8 speed auto transmission helps the GT manage a respectable 0 to 60 dash in 4.8 seconds. Did I mention it gets 24 mpg on the highway? That’s a 40% improvement in efficiency over the 5.9 in the standard W 12 Continental. Another benefit of the smaller engine is that the GT can reach 60 from a stop in under 4.5 seconds, that’s marginally faster than the more powerful and heavier V12 cars. That kind of performance means that the twin halo ringed LED tail lights wont be seen by too many supercars in the GT’s price range, as many less expensive cars are able to move faster. Few however will do it with as much style and elegance.
That speed of course is imperceptible from the well appointed quiet cabin. No penalty for having a “base” model here, as the GT’s cabin is as lush as any other Bently coupe. The dashboard’s twin pods reminds one of what a Mustang might look like if it were available as a luxury sport 2 + 2. Interior sounds are likely to come from the infotainment systems featuring live satellite feeds of terrain maps. The super rich have all sorts of options now for arriving in style while being nicer the environment. The GT represents a small step compared to cars like the Fisker Karma or Telsa Roadster for those who want their exotic to have a small eco footprint.
But unlike those cars, the Bently gives up nothing in style and presence for the sake of environmental stewardship (or at least the appearance of it). It will be interesting to see if stronger efficiency mandates being implemented across Europe will force Bently to expand the concept. For now ,you could be a responsible tycoon with the Continental GT V8 and not really appear to be all that responsible to the untrained star struck eye. Besides, most Bently coupes tend to look the same to us ordinary people. If you’ve got one, it’s assumed you could have bought a collection of Priuses, but that would not make the same statement. Bentleys are all about style and power, reguardless of the number of cylinders under the hood. That’s probaly how most Bently owners like it.