Life is good when the phone rings and the voice on the other end tells you to expect delivery of a 2004 Bentley Continental GT "tomorrow." There's just no way to hide the smile that forms as you prepare for the arrival of a $150,000 Bentley. And for good reason - Bentley cars are nothing short of spectacular, the Continental GT promising to raise the bar yet another notch.
By now you've studied all of the numbers, read the previews and gazed at the photos from European first drive articles. So you're no doubt familiar with what the Continental GT promises to deliver - mega-performance in a high class, luxuriously sleek, stylish package. And we would expect no less from the gentlemen at Bentley - they've been building some of the finest automobiles the world has ever known.
The Continental GT has the underpinnings of a true sports car - a 6.0-liter W12 with 48-valves and twin-turbos produces 552 unsatiable horsepower and 479 lb-ft of tire-melting torque (which begins at just over 1500 rpm). All of this glorious motivation is converted to (rapid) forward momentum via an all new, all wheel drive platform that includes a six-speed transaxle. The Continental GT features a ZF-built six-speed that's mounted in the rear axle, and is controlled by way of paddle mounted shifters that offer your choice of full auto, semi-automatic, and full-manual.
We took delivery of the Continental GT to drive it, and drive it we did. Immediately noticeable is the exhaust note - it's definitely unique, and it's entirely intoxicating, if not slightly agressive at low rpm and low speed. Road noise was completely invisible, incredible when you consider the size and design of the Continental GT's venerable 275/40/ZR19 tire (Wheel & Tire Care Guide, Save on Wheels & Tires) package, which are, by the way, wrapped around gorgeous alloy wheels.
Wind noise was also nonexistent, and the chassis proved itself stiff and resistant to undesirable road harmonics, while providing a comfortable ride, even on Washington DC's most challenging road surfaces. Kudos to Bentley for the impeccible build quality and their ability to dampen any intrusive outside noise.
Despite weighing more than 5,000 pounds, the GT's weight is nearly transparent - the suspension is firm, body roll is nonexistent and the feedback is superb. Try as we might to upset the Continental GT in high speed turns, it remained firmly planted, almost as if it were anticipating our attempts to ruffle its feathers. Turn-in was precise and accurate with just the right amount of feedback. City folk rejoice, as the turning radius was remarkably tight.