There are days, just some days, in the unremitting toil we call existence that make the daily drudgery worthwhile.
This was one of those days, with interest added, writes Scott Armstrong.
Being behind the wheel of a Kingfisher blue Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible with the top down, the Sea of Oman on your right, the Al Hajar mountains to your left with the wind whistling through your hair (ok massaging your bald pate) is one of those freeze-frame moments where you just want to stop the scene and savour the present while it lasts.
There are cars to be driven in and cars to drive, this is the latter by about a million per cent.
Climbing into the Bentley is like putting on a new tailored suit, that feeling of somehow being an inch taller, an inch slimmer and a whole lot better looking all in one go.
This is a car that the hallowed Jeremy Clarkson, the artist formerly known on Top Gear, back in February called ‘one of the world’s best cars’.
And there is a reason why, this car is a thing of beauty to drive.
In traffic it will happily glide along minding its own business (rather than sulking in the lower range like some sports cars). But put your foot down and it’s as if the entire percussion section of an orchestra has sprung into life. The bass exploding around you (especially with the top down) is astonishing. Musicians that were gently blowing panpipes a split-second before are now blaring out the Ride of the Valkyries on tubas, big tubas.
Mathematically expressed the convertible is finding 100kph in just 4.7 seconds, which is breathtaking given the sturdy shoulders of this twin turbo-charged beast.
And yet, as you surge forward, you remain in complete control.
The suspension, not too soft or springy, allows you to feel the road, complimented by steering pitched just right, the weight and the balance as you head into turns enables the driver to instinctively trust this machine.
As you lean into the corners you feel this wonderfully-balanced vehicle defying physics as it throws its two and a half tons into the bend with utter exuberance, but in the sure knowledge it knows it can do it – sort of like Neo from the Matrix dodging bullets in slow motion.
Bentley’s PR speak says this: “Drive it with the hood down and a new dimension is revealed. You’re no longer an observer of the passing landscape but a part of it, with every aspect of your journey – especially the thrilling sound track – amplified in the open air.”
Bit overdone perhaps, but yes, that’s pretty much it. And it’s an effect that works especially well out here in the Gulf, where for eight months of the year (stretching it, but you would in this car) the outside temperature is just begging you to put the top down.
And it’s out here that Clarkson’s biggest, and only main real issue, with the convertible evaporates.
It’s fair to say that the Continental’s dress code of colours is bright, understandably garish for an Englishman and a professional critic to boot, but when the sun is shining bright shirts and bright cars, particularly Bentleys, are de rigueur.
Indeed to quote Clarkson’s review: “If you buy a car such as this, you are almost certainly going to be in your fifties and to have — let’s be kind — a prosperous waistline and a bald patch the size of a jellyfish.”
Apart from the age (not quite there yet) this driver is guilty as charged, but so what?
While in Game of Thrones “Winter’s coming” is a thing to be feared, here the glorious weather from September to May means you’ll be gagging to don a Magnum PI-esque Hawaiian shirt and get out there.
Gliding along the roads with the stunning coastline zipping past the Continental becomes the greatest cosmetic surgeon alive because in your mind that lack of hair makes you look less like Duncan Goodhew (look him up kids) and more like Jason Statham. And the good thing is no-one is going to shatter that illusion, because they are all looking at the car.
Is it sad or shallow to say or write such things, perhaps, but when you are buying the second most expensive car in one of the world’s most luxurious fleets you really should buy it for you.
Forget Clarkson (apologies to the legend if you are reading, unlikely), forget society (high or otherwise) just climb in, start the motor and drive.
And you’ll be able to drive, and drive, and drive, as you’ll get around 800 km between fill-ups, giving you 10.9 l/100km.
So, on behalf of all the overweight and under-haired I say this: “Be bald, be bold and be Bentley.”
|Continental GT V8 S||Continental GT V8 S Convertible|
|Type||4-litre twin-turbocharged direct injection V8 with cylinder deactivation|
|Max Power||521 bhp / 528 PS / 389 KW @ 6,000 rpm|
|Max Torque||680 Nm / 502 lb.ft @ 1700 rpm|
|Type||ZF 8-speed automatic with Quickshift, Block Shifting and column mounted paddleshift|
|Driveline||Continuous all-wheel drive (40:60 rear bias)|
|Front||405mm ventilated discs (optional 420mm Carbon Silicon Carbide, cross drilled)|
|Rear||335mm ventilated discs (optional 356mm, Carbon Silicon Carbide, cross drilled)|
|Type||Rack & pinion, power assisted, speed-sensitive ZF servotronic|
|Front||Four link double wishbones, computer controlled self-levelling air suspension, with anti-roll bar|
|Rear||Trapezoidal multi-link, computer-controlled self-levelling air suspension, with anti-roll bar|
|Damping||Continuous Damping Control, tuned for dynamic performance|
|Top speed||192 mph / 309 km/h||191 mph / 308 km/h|
|0-60 mph||4.3 secs||4.5 secs|
|0-100 mph||10.3 secs||10.6 secs|
|0-100 km/h||4.5 secs||4.7 secs|
|0-160 km/h||10.3 secs||10.6 secs|
|Fuel Consumption (EU cycle)*|
|Urban||18.4 mpg / 15.4 litres/100 km||17.9 mpg / 15.8 litres/100 km|
|Extra Urban||36.7 mpg / 7.7 litres/100 km||35.3 mpg / 8 litres/100 km|
|Combined||26.8 mpg / 10.6 litres/100 km||25.9 mpg / 10.9 litres/100 km|
Scott’s drive was courtesy of Bentley Oman, Wattayah Motors LLC.