Whenever I’m in the car, my mother shouts “Bentley!” as something of a cruel joke. I’m really not sure why now, or when it started, all I know is that if it has four wheels, I’ll here the cry “Bentley”.
Although saying that, I’ve been asked “Why have those Formula One cars only got two wheels? Oh, wait, they’re bikes”.
I digress. The point is, Bentleys, although prestige, are seen quite often, certainly more often than Rolls Royces.
They’re not undesirable cars, but they don’t hold quite the same image, for me at least, as Aston Martins.
And I think where things have gone wrong is with the Continental GT. The car itself is good, especially the Supersport.
The standard car has a 6 litre W12 engine that produces 550 bhp and 650 Nm of torque, which is more than enough power to whisk you from one location to the next. The Supersport is even better, with 620 bhp – a simply colossal amount of power, especially for the great British marque that is Bentley.
But, not only do they depreciate in a truly staggering fashion (I found one on Autotrader that had lost £110,000 in three years), they were bought by what Bentley staff would refer to as ‘all the wrong people’.
Wayne Rooney. Rio Ferdinand. John Terry. Frank Lampard. Steven Gerrard. All of these footballers bought the Continental, thus ruining the image of a perfectly respectable Bentley.
Sure, the back looked a bit like a Toyota Avensis, the front grille is the size of the South of England, but all would have been forgiven if the footballer hadn’t bought it, because it had the same sort of menace as the Arnage.
I took a trip in an Arnage T once, and not only was it the best car interior I have ever seen, there was enough legroom to take the dog for a walk, and enough power to get to, cough, 70 mph in a few seconds, with the sort of gusto that only a Bentley, or perhaps a Rolls, could ever provide.
But now, they’ve made a new Continental which, although very similar on the outside, is very different under the bonnet, and is much, much more desirable, and will hopefully go a long way to repairing Bentley’s Continental Image*.
It’s called the GT V8, and as you might have guessed, it has a V8 engine, but it’s not the 6 and ¾ litre, twin-turbo V8 of old; it’s a new twin-turbo 4 litre engine.
It produces 500 bhp and 600 Nm of torque, but most impressively it reduces CO2 emissions over the W12 by a staggering 40%. How is that possible?
I, for one, am looking forward to the launch at the Detroit North American International Auto Show next week, but not half as much as seeing and hearing one in the flesh, partly because it looks, and will sound, amazing, but for the first time ever I will be able to tell my mum “Yes, it is a Bentley!”
*Note to footballers: Do not buy, and therefore ruin, the new GT V8. Please.