Driving Impressions: 2013 Bentley Continental GT V8
Just walking up to the 2013 Bentley Continental GT V8 fills our brains with imposing thoughts. The car is a large coupe, and its muscular haunches signify that there’s a bit of angry athleticism hiding underneath the otherwise elegant exterior. Opening the door reveals a similar experience, where top-level luxury meets purpose. Closing the door causes the seat belt to extend forward to greet your waiting hand automatically. It’s a neat trick, and a wonderful way to begin the driving experience. Even better though, is what happens when you press the start button.
There’s a whir from the starter, than the entire car comes to life. Of course, we’re dealing with a luxury machine so there’s no immediate shouting from the engine. Still, it’s clear that there’s currently untapped power waiting right underneath our foot.
Press the “B” on top of the transmission, slide the tall shift lever rearward into drive, and the Continental GT V8 glides away like a freight train. There is no drama unless it’s drama you desire, and to achieve this it’s merely a matter of pressing the throttle more deeply into the plush carpet. Here is where the engine finds its voice, and the speedometer is forced to move far more quickly. Wonderfully, however, there’s no throwing of ones back violently into the seat. Instead, the action builds like a wave that started far out to sea, and has been gathering momentum as it heads towards land. The exhaust and engine offer up a deep rumble as the world outside flies ever faster by the window.
All of that forward momentum is hauled in effortlessly thanks to the gargantuan brakes. In fact, our tester is fitted with optional carbon ceramic units that never tire of playing the slow-down game. Carbon ceramic brakes are for folks who track their cars or simply like checking every option box on the list. Unfortunately these brakes are typically rather annoying in standard street driving. Why? They screech and squeal almost every time they’re engaged. Everyone around you thinks you’ve now got crummy brakes on your $200,000 exotic machine. You could take a moment to explain they’re actually very expensive and never fade… but you’d be wasting your breath. Get the steel brakes.
Squeaking issue aside, the Bentley presents itself as a gentleman’s grand tourer, and that’s just what it is. The steering is predictably heavy, but it’s also responsive, which is a solid combination for a GT vehicle. Couple the steering with the adaptive suspension, then add in the smooth transmission and comfortable ride, and you have a recipe for exceptional luxury and performance.