Bentley's V8 Continental GTC: The Green Way To Go Big This Summer
|Bentley's V8 Continental GTC: The Green Way To Go Big This Summer|
Whatever you’ve heard about Montauk being a low-key surf hamlet out at the end of the Hamptons, don’t believe it.
A recent Saturday night at The Surf Lodge saw valet parking of the highest magnitude: An Aston Martin Vantage, a Maserati GranTurismo convertible, a blazing red Ferrari California. Oh, and the new Bentley Continental V8 GTC, the four-seat stunner Bentley is selling as the earth-friendly answer to its W12 coupe.
I first drove the V8 GT coupe at the Monticello Motor Club in upstate New York, then switched to the GTC convertible for a weekend getaway at Jayma Cardoso’s beautifully raw waterside hotel.
It was the perfect change-up. The coupe performed expertly on the track with smooth handling, huge carbon brakes and a satisfyingly aggressive engine tone; the soft droptop adequately flaunted an unapologetic combo of decadence and power as it cruised through one of the richest areas of the country. No one could have guessed its dirty little secret that the car isn’t quite as greedy, gas wise, as it might seem.
In fact, the GTC has almost everything you could want from a $210,500 luxury convertible. It’s well-balanced, with plenty of bite in the high gears, and its 5,445-pound weight handles in a way that makes you feel confident, secure, powerful. It’s also 40 percent more fuel efficient than its W12 sibling, with only slightly less horsepower (500 bhp v. 567 bhp). I just wish there had been a rack for the paddle boards.*
The question on everyone’s mind, though, is whether those who bought the W12 last year will deign to switch to fewer cylinders this year.
My guess is that most buyers who already own a Continental will not drop to the V8. I think when you’re dealing with luxury brands and 500+ horses under the hood, the ego is already too enmeshed with cylinder count. But the V8 may win over the wafflers. It may also attract buyers who would otherwise consider a GranTurismo or Vantage.
Bentley, at least, has done a good job of making it a tough choice.
Witness the new powertrain with ultra-efficient eight-speed transmission and all-wheel drive. The twin-turbo 4-liter engine. The 188-mph top speed. (Top speed on the GranTurismo S is 183mph, on the Ferrari California just a notch higher at 193mph.) Zero to 60mph is 4.7 seconds.
Thing is, this eco love monster was made to show proof-positive Bentley’s commitment to the environment. (It helps separate the car a bit from competitors.) The biggest development to that end is the variable displacement system that—under low throttle–allows the engine to imperceptibly switch from using eight cylinders to four.
I know, I know. Running at half-power sends a shiver to the bones of those inclined to go full-throttle or go home. Yes. But I drove that car hard on the Monticello track, including taking a hot lap with a professional driver, and I drove it for three days in Montauk all over that windy, hilly Old Montauk Highway. I’m telling you. You will not be able to discern the switch.
“We didn’t think this was something we needed to share with our customers,” says Brian Gush, Bentley’s head of motorsport, chassis, powertrain and a few other things even he forgets to list. “They don’t need to see a tree growing or leaves blooming.”
They do want to see bling, apparently. And the new V8 does look different, upon close inspection, from the W12. It has a black gloss matrix grille framed in chrome and topped with a red enamel B badge flat on the hood. The front bumper is divided into three strakes that make the car look like it wants to tell you something fun—it’s an extroverted machine. It also has optional 21-inch rims in diamond black, with a touch of carbon fiber on the side. The tail pipes are in a figure-eight pattern that will be unmistakable once you’ve seen it.
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All of which are good things if you don’t mind feeling a bit out of place with the old rigs making their way out to Ditch Plains at 7am on a Sunday morning. Then again, what self-respecting Bentley owner would be up at such an ungodly hour? It’s just not done.
At least everything inside the V8—leather, steel knobs, stitching, veneers–feels thick and solid. Reassuringly rich. It might have something to do with the “fiddleback” eucalyptus veneers, two-tone leather and shortened center console. The steering wheel is rounded and a bit plump; the back seat is perfect for a young lady sitting behind two gentlemen up front. Though she may complain a bit back there if the top goes up.
(That’s just one small gripe – the car must be going extremely slow to put the top up, and it takes well near 30 seconds to do it. Picking your way through East Hampton traffic on Sunday brunch isn’t slow enough. I know because I tried it. You might as well just stop the car.)
But that’s beside the point. The Bentley V8 Continental gets 27 miles to the gallon. The engine will drive 500 miles on one tank of gas—from Long Beach to the Golden Gate Bridge, say. I’d call it the most eco-friendly luxury convertible we’ve seen. But nobody has to know.
*There is a ski hatch option available, but that won’t get you very far in the Hamptons.
Bentley's V8 Continental GTC: The Green Way To Go Big This Summer - Forbes
|Latest Rides Hot Topics »||share this topic »|| |
|07-21-2012, 05:21 PM||away - #2|
|07-21-2012, 07:00 PM||away - #3|
|07-21-2012, 11:12 PM||away - #4|
|07-22-2012, 11:50 AM||away - #5|
500 miles on one tank of gas from a v8?? My six cylinder car cant even break 300 on a full tank. This thing is crack!!
|07-28-2012, 01:37 AM||away - #6|
5400lbs though? thing is a tank
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