Car that made even me look (a bit) cool

Macclesfield Express - - SEARCH -

WHILE day­dream­ing about win­ning the lot­tery – as we all do – I have al­ways had an As­ton Martin top of the wish list… but af­ter a week with our lat­est test car I may have just changed my mind.

Mind you – it would take a lot­tery win for most of us to be able to buy a Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT Speed as the ba­sic price is £168,300... and our test car with ‘Spectre’ paint­work and ‘Bel­uga’ hide in­te­rior had a lengthy op­tions list which pushed that up to £199,155 on the road.

Up­dated last year with an even more sump­tu­ous in­te­rior leather, dash­board re­vi­sions, a tweaked ‘more cor­po­rate Bent­ley’ front end and power pop-up rear spoiler, the GT Speed re­mains the most pow­er­ful, lux­u­ri­ous and fastest (top speed 206mph) Bent­ley ever.

En­gi­neers have also man­aged to get a few more horses from its 6.0 litre, twin turbo W12 en­gine, which now puts out 626bhp and can hurl the 2.7-tonne car from 0 to 60mph in just four sec­onds – true supercar ter­ri­tory.

The power in this car is just bru­tal when you are brave enough to plant the go pedal into the lux­ury car­pet­ing… yet at nor­mal speeds it is as easy to drive as a big Merc or Jag.

Bent­leys have al­ways been cool, de­spite the best ef­forts of some Premier­ship foot­balling own­ers (any­one re­mem­ber the cam­ou­flage paint­work on Mario Balotelli’s Con­ti­nen­tal GT?), and were driven by the likes of James Bond in the orig­i­nal Ian Flem­ing books and that 1960s su­per-cool TV Avenger, John Steed.

And this one man­aged to make yours truly look a bit cool… even when I was not be­hind the wheel.

Dur­ing a quick trip up to a ‘sleepy hol­low’ known as Knott End (just over the river from Fleet­wood) to take an old pal out for a (in my case) non-al­co­holic drink we went into an old ‘stomp­ing ground’ boozer and bumped into some­one I had not seen for over 40 years.

Af­ter ini­tial pleas­antries she halfjok­ingly en­quired whether the brand new Bent­ley in the small car park out­side – oth­er­wise filled with farm­ers’ old bangers – was mine and on be­ing told it was she was un­able to stop her­self blurt­ing out an un­print­able re­sponse at the top of her voice!

Af­ter that the whole pub knew whose car it was… al­though I did even­tu­ally con­fess that I only had in on loan.

That’s the kind of re­ac­tion this fly­ing arm­chair gets wher­ever you go – even de­mure col­leagues who have never shown any in­ter­est in the cars I have tested be­fore were ask­ing to be taken for a ‘spin around the block’.

Well it truly is a fab­u­lous ma­chine which, to a large ex­tent, jus­ti­fies that fab­u­lous price tag. Ev­ery lux­ury from adap­tive cruise con­trol to heated and cooled mas­sage mem­ory seats in the finest, cross stitched leather are there.

But to hold its own against other su­per­cars the GT Speed needs those per­for­mance cre­den­tials, which is why you can ad­just things like damper stiff­ness and ride height at the flick of a switch while on the move. Our test car even had op­tional car­bon ce­ramic brakes which added £10,825 to that fi­nal price tag... but re­ally can stop the big brute in its tracks.

The tech spec is also truly im­pres­sive – 626bhp from that glo­ri­ous W12 en­gine. When you fire it up the car au­to­mat­i­cally gives a lit­tle blip of throt­tle, rat­tling nearby win­dows and let­ting ev­ery­one know that it re­ally is the busi­ness in the go depart­ment.

And top marks, sur­pris­ingly, for Bent­ley in the fuel con­sump­tion stakes too. Yes this car is not go­ing to be eco­nom­i­cal – the man­u­fac­turer claims 27.4mpg ex­tra ur­ban, 13 ur­ban and 19.3 com­bined… and I man­aged 18.5 over­all dur­ing a week of very var­ied driv­ing so, un­like a lot of other car mak­ers, those quoted fig­ures are re­al­is­tic… al­though I sus­pect peo­ple who buy this kind of car don’t even know, or care about, the price of a litre of su­per un­leaded.

So I now have a lot­tery dilemma… let’s hope it’s a de­ci­sion I have to make in the not too dis­tant fu­ture.

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