I am not a Country and Western fan. I didn’t expect to be much of a fan of the new Bentley Continental V8S, either. Bear with me and I’ll elaborate on what at first seems like a rather tenuous connection with Dolly Parton. My ballad begins in Hampshire;

Working 9-5

Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition goes the opening line of Dolly’s famous hit ’Workin’ 9-5’. We started a little earlier than 9 and drove this Bentley Continental V8S from MotorPunk’s HQ down to Hampshire. Our cup of ambition was served with milk and two sugars at William Medcalf’s, pictures above, a chap who would surely identify himself in Dolly’s words; 9 to 5, for service and devotion, you would think that I would deserve a fat promotion. William is a hard working Bentley specialist par excellence, gentleman racer and all round good egg. He kindly let us film car number 10 which was Bentley motors first factory entry at Le Mans. He had generously shuffled a date with Lord and Lady March to accommodate us and allow access to the priceless car which opens the film about the Bentley boys we are making with our friends at Carfection. It’s some way removed from our modern Continental.

Love is like a butterfly

Love is like a butterfly, as soft and gentle as a sigh, the multicolored moods of love are like its satin wings. I’m struggling to maintain the already tenuous link with Dolly now. It’s such a brute that any comparisons with satin wings are nonsense. Look at the honking size of it! It’s 4.8m long, 1.9m wide and has 2.3 tons of heft. From certain angles it looks rather racey, others make it seem like an offcut of iceberg – I don’t think this shade of white helps. I always appreciated how Rolls-Royce style their new big cars to look tidy, almost compact, despite comparable dimensions to Bentleys. The Continental is made big and is designed to show it’s muscles off. I hope you appreciate the lengths I went to get these pictures, above, Dr O getting a leg up from Alex to vandalise a tree remove an unsightly thing that was in shot.

Jolene

I’m begging of you please don’t take my man. Bentley took VW’s Phaeton chassis for the Continental although I doubt they had to beg, all being part of the same extended family. These are rather old underpinnings now and the engine makes up for it, the updated 520BHP twin turbo V8 hurls it along at silly speeds. 0-60 takes 4.3 seconds and you can thunder on to 192MPH with a bit more room than we had here in the Hampshire countryside. There’s Torsen-based four wheel drive but it’s too easy to get it to understeer, even in my amateur hands. The ride quality is ace and you can raise the ride height, for example, if you get any cyclists or horseriders stuck under the car. To drive? It’s not a sportscar. It’s an incredibly comfortable and rapid GT car, Jolene.

Coat of many colors 

So with patches on my britches and holes in both my shoes, in my coat of many colors I hurried off to school, just to find the others laughing and making fun of me. It’s white with a hint of blue pearl, apparently and certainly has no patches, and (on the school run) no-one laughed. Lots of people stared, kids shouted and pointed and no-one let me out at junctions which was a bit of a bugger as it’s a behemoth to manoeuvre around town. Driven off the paddles and with sport mode enabled (irony mode disabled) it bangs and pops and people stare. You can adjust the dampers to sport and press a button to make that flappy spoiler pop-up but, really, what’s the point? It’s a cruiser. I genuinely managed 26.6MPG over some distance, the V8 becoming a V4 when you drive gently, but it’s also worth pointing out that I managed to get road-raged for no discernible reason, twice. It hasn’t happened before in decades of driving and you’re left with the feeling that not everyone appreciates such a distinctive car on ‘their’ roads. Everyone will have an opinion, mostly ‘wow!’ but sometimes ‘Waitrose Phaeton’. There are some pretty little details if you look; Wings on the Bentley ‘B’ each have a different amount of feathers (originally to deter forgers) and the mesh grill is a nod to a modification by Bentley’s 1924 Le Mans winner John Duff (the subject of our film, currently in the edit).  The image and styling is a big part of what this car is about; if you call your watch a chronograph then you’ll totally get it.

Islands in the stream

Dolly duetted with Kenny Rogers on this one, and a little known fact is that the twine used in the seat stitching in this Continental is woven from stray hairs from Kenny’s beard. Bentley will charge you muchly for that. Actually this one had linen stitching, carbon fibre trim, heated and cooled massaging seats, a privacy handset for when you’re on the phone to Nashville, and more. This car cost £150k and had £44k of options and, inside, it shows. It is a totally relaxing place to sit; Behind double glazed windows, with either the TV on or radio station KayWhyZee playing something fitting; Islands in the stream, that is what we are, no one in between, how can we be wrong, sail away with me.

bentley continental gt v8s review (2)

IIIiiii-eeee-iiii will alwaaaaaays love yoooooou

Why have I gone so Country and Western? There is actually a fair comparison to be made between Dolly Parton and this Continental. They both have old underpinnings that have relied upon lots of expensive cosmetics tweaks to keep young looking, and any criticisms are countered with the fact that up front they both have plenty of, well – ooomph! Dolly once said “it costs a lot of money to look this cheap” but Bentley doesn’t do self-deprecation. There’s no modesty – it’s all brute force and thunder. That will appeal to so many people and, in a less LOOK-AT-ME-DAMN-YOU! colour scheme I see the appeal, certainly used as older models are down to £20k ish now. I really enjoyed my time with the Bentley Continental V8S. Let’s leave the last words to Dolly Parton; Bitter-sweet memories, that’s all I am taking with me. Good-bye, please don’t cry, we both know that I’m not what you need, I will always love you…

BENTLEY CONTINENTAL REVIEW (1)

More info on the Bentley website here.

Words, pics and skids; Rich Duisberg.

 

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