07 September 2006



THERE are just not that many cars in the world that blow up my finely tailored skirt, but the Bentley Continental GT is one. I like to think of myself as a man of environmental principle, so it would be ethically inconsistent for me to own Bentley's 12-cylinder, 552-hp, 2 3/4-ton siege engine of class warfare, a car that vaporizes premium petrochemicals to the tune of 15 miles per gallon and wafts its own muggy microclimate of greenhouse gases behind. Never mind the fuel economy - the monster tires alone probably represent a barrel of oil each.

And yet, even along Wilshire Boulevard - where the cars now are as common as taxis - every sighting of the long, prow-intensive fastback is a cardiac event, an aching reminder of the Bentley-shaped hole in my heart. The silent thunder of its approach, the shimmering grille of mithril, the perfect rhythms and symmetry of the body contours streaming back like the folded wings of Valkyries. The Bentley's presence seems to funnel the cosmos until all you see is that car.

In the face of this suffused wonderfulness, all I can think is: Now, where did I put my knickers?

After that, mine are down around my ankles!

Stashed discreetly behind the rear headrests are hydraulically actuated roll hoops that will, if the car senses an incipient rollover, burst through their composite covers to help protect occupants from a drastic hair-restyling event.

Acceleration is still, well, obscene: 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds. The car is then merely gaining its feet. It's a surreally smooth ride up to triple digits and it's fair to say if this car isn't fast enough for you, you should definitely join the Royal Air Force. Speaking of obscene, get a load of those ventilated front brake discs: 16 inches in diameter, the biggest in any production car.

How fast is it with the top down? According to Ulrich Eichhorn, Bentley board member in charge of engineering, the top-down top speed is 190 mph, and he even volunteered to sit in the back seat while the car made its top-speed test run. "It wasn't as tempestuous as you might think," the charming Eichhorn reports. "The wind wasn't that bad."

And yet, when the car is released this fall, I'm sure it will blow a few skirts up.

OK, I'm sold. Do they make it in a pickup?

No comments: