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Bentley Continental GT V8: Some Cool Tech, And Loads Of Class

Steering Wheel Controls

The Continental GT V8 features fairly typical steering wheel-mounted controls for volume, phone, and voice commands. Whereas Audi uses plastic jog dials, Bentley steps up to an aluminum jog dial with a diamond-cut pattern for greater tactility. Again, those little details make the Continental GT stand out even from other luxury cars. 

A Breitling Center Piece

There's a conspicuously-placed Breitling clock at the top of the Continental GT's center stack. The Swiss company's products run anywhere from $2000 to $175,000, making the timepiece an appropriate fit for this car.

Perhaps coincidentally, since Breitling is heavily involved in aviation, the clock is flanked on both sides by aluminum vents and aircraft-inspired open/close toggles unlike anything we've ever used before.

A Useful LCD Gauge Cluster

Bentley deploys a classy cluster with an analog tachometer, coolant temperature gauge, fuel level, and speedometer.

Sandwiched between the tachometer and speedometer is a well-integrated LCD display that shows trip information, music controls, your phone book, navigation instructions, and vehicle settings. Unlike some of the vehicles we've reviewed that seem to incorporate LCDs wantonly, the Continental GT's screen integrates smartly with the infotainment system. As mentioned, you can get navigation details to show up there; you can even scroll through your phone book using the jog dial and gauge cluster.

Although I'm not a huge fan of Bentley's choice of infotainment platform, the Continental GT V8 has a nice set of gauges and a useful LCD display. That's one bit of tech the car does well.

A High-Quality Key Fob

The key fob is another example of the care that goes into a Bentley, part of what makes it cost so much more than a Volkswagen or Audi. Now, the switchblade mechanism is very similar to what you'd get with a vehicle belonging to those other brands. But Bentley dresses it up more. Instead of all-plastic, you get an aluminum frame with the same textured diamond-cut pattern as the control knobs. A leather case wraps around the key fob for an extra bit of luxury.

Active Damping Suspension

The Continental GT V8 employs air springs that continuously adjust damper settings on the fly. You can change the suspension's tuning through the infotainment system; four settings exist between Comfort and Sport. Every time the car starts, it defaults to the second-softest option, which is perfectly fine for cruising down Las Vegas Boulevard. But if you want something different, you need to remember to go into the menu and make the change. When we drove through the Tehachapi mountains, we configured the suspension to ride as stiff as possible for having fun with the curves.

A Self-Deploying Rear Spoiler

The Continental GT V8 comes with an active spoiler that deploys when the car hits 95 MPH. At that speed, it's designed to generate down-force that helps keep the back end planted. The spoiler automatically retracts once you drop back below 65 MPH. If you like the aesthetic, Bentley even gives you the option to pop the spoiler up manually. In some circles, that'd make you a poseur. But when you spend close to a quarter-million on a car, you can cruise around with your spoiler up if you want.

Double-Pane Windows? Yes, Really

In your home, double-pane windows are used to help keep warm air in during the winter, or cool air during the summer. But Bentley gives the Continental GT V8 laminated double-pane windows so that the cabin stays quiet at high speeds. This is grand touring car, designed for cruising at a rapid rate, after all.

Even at higher-than-suggested speeds, Angelini and I were able to converse easily without raising our voices, and Fritz in the back seat had no trouble joining in. Really, the quiet operation is something you don't even notice until someone points it out. Double-pane glass might seem excessive in a car, but there's no arguing with the results.

The Window Sticker

I couldn’t resist attaching the window sticker to show how crazy the Continental GT V8's options can get. The car starts at $177,500. Add the Mulliner Driving Specification package, which includes some interior dress-up details, along with the Ghost White paint job, and you just added as much as a well-equipped mid-sized sedan costs. It doesn't stop there, either. Our car also came with the Sports Specification that includes a full carbon fiber interior for $8145 and the “Naim for Bentley” premium sound system priced at $7300. Those big-ticket options make the $1905 for contrast stitching, $1215 back-up camera, $955 power trunk (boot for our British readers), $275 valet key, and $200 for contrasting steering wheel stitching sound like pocket change. 

With just the options added together, you could buy Angelini's E63 second-hand and still have enough left over for another car. The grand total, including destination charge, puts our Bentley Continental GT V8 test car at $227,110, which is about $8000 more than what I paid for my house in Graham, Washington, brand new.

Hate To See You Go; Love To Watch You Leave

I won’t lie; I enjoyed every minute of driving the Bentley Continental GT V8. Its price is outrageous, but I can understand why it costs $100,000 more than Audi's S8. Although the car does rely on some vestiges of mass production, there's still a lot of hand-crafted workmanship apparent in the final product. You're paying for exclusivity and excessiveness...

...and there's nothing wrong with that. We live in a world of six-figure watches and bottles of wine that'd pay my monthly mortgage. Just because I find those things excessive doesn't mean there isn't a market for them. The same is true for this Bentley. If I had the money for it, and if I wanted a daily driver with comfort, speed, and handling, the Continental GT V8 would make an excellent choice. It's a remarkable car that combines quality and class. It draws attention, but remains subtle. It's as cool and smooth as James Bond.

I've driven an A8L, and I'd love to own an S8. But something about the Continental GT V8 makes it so much more memorable. It could be the scent of high-grade leather, the melodious exhaust, the feeling of real carbon fiber trim, the obvious attention to detail, or just the attention from others in the industry that made my week with this car so enjoyable.

So yes, the Continental GT V8 is excessive, expensive, and shares its platform with a Volkswagen. At the end of the day, though, Bentley did an excellent job of transforming the Phaeton's foundation into something deserving of those trademarked wings.

  • sparky2010
    Something I've been thinking of for a while: why don't car makers go to using tablet style OS in their in-car systems?Get an open source system such as Android, and place what is essentially a tablet in the dash.First you get great looking graphics, good touch-sensitivity, and the ability for your consumers to really download apps and customize these systems. Usually it'll remain a rather dull looking thing until you buy a new car, but you can make things more vivid.Of course it's not as simple as it sounds, but it can be something.
    Reply
  • Blazer1985
    Steel instead of aluminum is not classy, is cheap. 5 tons make this... what? a cheap rolls-royce?I don't know. Here Bentleys are for people who like to show off more money than they really have, so sad :-(
    Reply
  • jeremymcdev
    I'll stick with a $50,000 Caddy CTS and use the money I saved to buy half a house.
    Reply
  • kapitalistas
    Something I've been thinking of for a while: why don't car makers go to using tablet style OS in their in-car systems?Get an open source system such as Android, and place what is essentially a tablet in the dash.First you get great looking graphics, good touch-sensitivity, and the ability for your consumers to really download apps and customize these systems. Usually it'll remain a rather dull looking thing until you buy a new car, but you can make things more vivid.Of course it's not as simple as it sounds, but it can be something.
    Reply
  • kapitalistas
    Something I've been thinking of for a while: why don't car makers go to using tablet style OS in their in-car systems?Get an open source system such as Android, and place what is essentially a tablet in the dash.First you get great looking graphics, good touch-sensitivity, and the ability for your consumers to really download apps and customize these systems. Usually it'll remain a rather dull looking thing until you buy a new car, but you can make things more vivid.Of course it's not as simple as it sounds, but it can be something.
    i I agree but come up with this idea they have to pay lot off PATENT fee cause some one already think about that and made the patent.
    Reply
  • bambiboom
    Gentlemen?,
    I've been a Bentley fan for a long while and the very first car I ever owned was a 1952 Bentley MKVI, a nice one owner, 60,000 miles, "standard steel" or non-custom bodied- purchased for £400 in 1974.

    Driving the MKVI had a particularly pleasant and secure feel about it. Though it was right-hand-drive, it still also the gear shift lever on the right, specially placed so the driver's ankles would hit the lever getting in and getting out. Yes, it was both the first standard-bodied and the last manual shift Bentley. There was all that wood and leather and wool carpeting- even the trunk had that wonderful musty, damp wool aroma. Anyone who misses being in England can instantly conjure it up in portable form by keeping an old British car around- and keeping it damp. Well, it will be permanently damp regardless.

    And, the MKVI Bentley, though big and heavy compared to almost everything else, was one of the fastest regular production cars made > in 1949 the fastest was the Jaguar XK120, then the Bentley, and then the Cadillac Series 62> before Cadillacs became so bloated. The MKVI was probably not longer than a modern day Mustang and rather tall, but just felt like an extremely fast and nimble tank.

    I drove this car around Cambridge (England) for only four months because the insurance cost as much per year as the car- 4.5 Litres was considered a lot of HP for an 18-year old in the land of the 1 Litre, but almost none of the thirty-five or so cars I’ve had since, including XK140MC, Mercedes 300SEL 6.3, and 1928 and 1936 Packards had that same combination of security, dignity and speed. The Mercedes 6.3 was probably closest.

    The MKVI though was an exception to the trend of Bentley’s being the lower-key Rolls and in fact you could buy a Rolls that was the same car as the MKVI called the Silver Dawn> only the grille was changed and it had one SU instead of the Bentley’s two. For a long while though, really from the late 30's until the VW takeover, Bentley was no longer the “businessman’s express” and gentleman’s racer, they were dull and most people’s memories had to do more with the lack of reliability and the amazing repair costs than the pleasant sensations of driving. The joke of Rolls and Bentley’s in the 70's was that you needed a mechanic named Nigel in the boot and a Morris Minor on davits as a life raft.

    So good then that VW chose to revive the sporting image with a 12-potter of more than adequate HP, and racy wheels and striking Aston Martin’s grandfather’s looks. Since the Continental GT arrived in whatever, 2003 or so, no matter it’s a VW (as is the Bugatti Veyron) I’m again a “Bentley Boy”. Now, if only I could find a good one-owner, used one for £400,..

    BambiBoom
    Reply
  • brenro12
    This car is so out of step in today's world it can only be described as vulgar. I've owned half ton pickups that didn't weigh as much as this supertanker on wheels.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    Something I've been thinking of for a while: why don't car makers go to using tablet style OS in their in-car systems?Get an open source system such as Android, and place what is essentially a tablet in the dash.First you get great looking graphics, good touch-sensitivity, and the ability for your consumers to really download apps and customize these systems. Usually it'll remain a rather dull looking thing until you buy a new car, but you can make things more vivid.Of course it's not as simple as it sounds, but it can be something.
    It's due to development cycles. Cars like the Bentley Continental GT V8 are on long life cycles. The car originally came out in 2003 and had updates a few years ago but its still the same vehicle at heart. So say the development cycle on the Conti GT alone was 5 years, not counting how long it took VW to develop the Phaeton's platform. The car's out for 10-15 years. On more mainstream cars, they work on 10-year cycles as well. The companies are already working on the next generation before the current new one is even out. That limits what they can do with tech since it evolves at such a fast pace. Tablets haven't become cheaper and mainstream until the last 2-3 years. There's also the user interface, what works perfectly while being held in your hand or used close to your face won't exactly be perfect while you're sitting in the driver's seat. Icons have to be bigger, they have to respond to different input methods and not be a driver distraction.

    Steel instead of aluminum is not classy, is cheap. 5 tons make this... what? a cheap rolls-royce?I don't know. Here Bentleys are for people who like to show off more money than they really have, so sad :-(

    The chassis is steel but the body panels and most everything else are aluminum.

    I've been a Bentley fan for a long while and the very first car I ever owned was a 1952 Bentley MKVI, a nice one owner, 60,000 miles, "standard steel" or non-custom bodied- purchased for £400 in 1974. Driving the MKVI had a particularly pleasant and secure feel about it. Though it was right-hand-drive, it still also the gear shift lever on the right, specially placed so the driver's ankles would hit the lever getting in and getting out. Yes, it was both the first standard-bodied and the last manual shift Bentley. There was all that wood and leather and wool carpeting- even the trunk had that wonderful musty, damp wool aroma. Anyone who misses being in England can instantly conjure it up in portable form by keeping an old British car around- and keeping it damp. Well, it will be permanently damp regardless.And, the MKVI Bentley, though big and heavy compared to almost everything else, was one of the fastest regular production cars made > in 1949 the fastest was the Jaguar XK120, then the Bentley, and then the Cadillac Series 62> before Cadillacs became so bloated. The MKVI was probably not longer than a modern day Mustang and rather tall, but just felt like an extremely fast and nimble tank.I drove this car around Cambridge (England) for only four months because the insurance cost as much per year as the car- 4.5 Litres was considered a lot of HP for an 18-year old in the land of the 1 Litre, but almost none of the thirty-five or so cars I’ve had since, including XK140MC, Mercedes 300SEL 6.3, and 1928 and 1936 Packards had that same combination of security, dignity and speed. The Mercedes 6.3 was probably closest.The MKVI though was an exception to the trend of Bentley’s being the lower-key Rolls and in fact you could buy a Rolls that was the same car as the MKVI called the Silver Dawn> only the grille was changed and it had one SU instead of the Bentley’s two. For a long while though, really from the late 30's until the VW takeover, Bentley was no longer the “businessman’s express” and gentleman’s racer, they were dull and most people’s memories had to do more with the lack of reliability and the amazing repair costs than the pleasant sensations of driving. The joke of Rolls and Bentley’s in the 70's was that you needed a mechanic named Nigel in the boot and a Morris Minor on davits as a life raft.So good then that VW chose to revive the sporting image with a 12-potter of more than adequate HP, and racy wheels and striking Aston Martin’s grandfather’s looks. Since the Continental GT arrived in whatever, 2003 or so, no matter it’s a VW (as is the Bugatti Veyron) I’m again a “Bentley Boy”. Now, if only I could find a good one-owner, used one for £400,..BambiBoom
    VW has done a fantastic job with their brands IMO. You can complain it has a similar dash layout or platform of a VW, but you can't complain about the results Bentley has achieved by tapping into VW's wonderful resources.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    12677759 said:
    Something I've been thinking of for a while: why don't car makers go to using tablet style OS in their in-car systems?Get an open source system such as Android, and place what is essentially a tablet in the dash.First you get great looking graphics, good touch-sensitivity, and the ability for your consumers to really download apps and customize these systems. Usually it'll remain a rather dull looking thing until you buy a new car, but you can make things more vivid.Of course it's not as simple as it sounds, but it can be something.

    Check out the Tesla Model S - the in screen car controls and navigation/"infotainment" system is about exactly like a giant tablet for controlling the car - and it's on a huge 17" screen that splits the controls between vehicle controls and navigation / radio / etc. Even has web browsing functionality.
    Reply
  • ryuukun14
    Something I've been thinking of for a while: why don't car makers go to using tablet style OS in their in-car systems?Get an open source system such as Android, and place what is essentially a tablet in the dash.First you get great looking graphics, good touch-sensitivity, and the ability for your consumers to really download apps and customize these systems. Usually it'll remain a rather dull looking thing until you buy a new car, but you can make things more vivid.Of course it's not as simple as it sounds, but it can be something.
    The other issue is security and reliability. The crash rates and instability inherent to android would be unacceptable in an automotive platform, along with the security limitations of open source Android. Look at what QNX is doing, they are heading in the touchscreen/tablet style direction.
    Reply