Bentley Continental GT – Review
By Liam Bird
Ah, a long weekend and the chance, at last, for some much needed R&R. What then could be more traditional than a trip to the coast? Couple that with a nice place to stay – somewhere comfortable and away from the crowds preferably – plus something equally well appointed to travel in, and I’d say you’ve got the makings of the perfect getaway.
Separated from my place in the Shropshire Marches by approximately 100 miles of some the best driving roads the old counties of Radnorshire and Brecknockshire have to offer, Fairy Hill on the Gower Peninsula offers the perfect secluded setting for discerning travellers wishing to explore Britain’s first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Bentley’s latest Continental GT, provides the perfect way to get there.
Pressing the starter button on the Continental’s centre console I’m rewarded with an engine note that reminds you that Bentley once built aero-engines. Twelve cylinders burst into life with a deep bass woofle. Bags packed, I-pod connected and sat-nav set to SA3. I slip the selector in to Drive and point the big chrome grille southwards.
“Wave of torque”
For the first 20 or so miles Bentley’s super-coupe feels large. The narrow roads require careful driving, but despite its size the Continental is easy to place. It rides well too; Shropshire’s frost damaged surfaces are easily ironed out and the doubled glazed cabin means road noise is kept to a minimum.
Criss-crossing Offa’s Dyke and skirting Hergest Ridge I’m soon on to the A438 heading towards Brecon. A short stretch of dual carriageway gives the first indication of just how contemptuously easy overtaking in this car really is. A slovenly hatchback soon becomes a dot in the rear-view mirror before disappearing completely beneath a discreet rear spoiler the rises only at speeds it’s better not to mention.
At Cefn Crew I turn right, pause for a second to take in the scenery, and select a firmer damper setting. The road between here and Hirwaun is fast becoming a favourite of mine. It’s the perfect place to select gears myself, via the Continental’s column mounted paddles, and ride what Bentley calls its Wave of Torque. Precise steering, 567bhp and the kind of agility that belies a kerb-weight of 2320kg make short work of what has to be one of the finest ribbons of tarmac ever laid across a Welsh mountain.
By the time we reach Penderyn, home of Welsh whisky, both me and the GT, have enjoyed the work-out. Resisting the temptation for a tipple, I re-select drive. Then turn up the Naim hi-fi a notch and let the Bentley waft me through the Vale of Neath. I go out on to The Gower and towards my destination.
After a couple of hours ensconced in one of the finest hand-crafted interiors any car has to offer, it’s nice to step in to a hotel that offers similar attention to detail. A quick tour of Fairy Hill soon reveals why owners Andrew Hetherington and Paul Davies have won so many awards for this place. Set in 24 acres of lawns and woodlands, it’s been voted one of the best places to eat in Wales. Not surprising then that it’s played host to a former prime-minister or two.
Ingredients for the restaurant are either grown on-site or sourced locally. Towels are changed twice daily and the wine cellar challenges Bentley’s options list for choice. An afternoon watching the surfer’s exertions at nearby Llangennith Sands makes dinner and a relaxing evening in the lounge even more attractive.
A leisurely breakfast follows a relaxing night’s sleep. With both me and the Continental well-rested and re-fuelled, in an effort to work off last night’s decadence, I make my way via Llandewi and Knelston to Three Cliffs Bay for a brisk walk on the beaches. I soak in what is arguably Britain’s best view. I could stay here and watch the climbers tackle Scavenger all day. But time and tide waits for no man.
It’s hard to resist letting Bentley’s 6 litre W12 rumble through The Mumbles. A coffee in The Bay Brasserie before heading north again. I’m going to show this ultimate gentleman’s GT the long way home.
Bentley Continental GT
Engine: 5998cc W12 48V Petrol
Power: 567 BHP @ 6000rpm
Torque: 616 lbft @ 1700rpm
Transmission: 6 speed automatic with selectable ratios & 4WD
Performance: 0-62mph 4.4 sec
Max Speed: 198mph
MPG: 17.1 Combined
Price: from £135,760 (car driven £155,320)