Saab – Automobile Magazine http://www.automobilemag.com No Boring Cars! | Reviews, Auto Shows, Lifestyle Mon, 29 Aug 2016 21:54:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 Bentley to Name Sports Car Barnato http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bentley-name-sports-car-barnato/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bentley-name-sports-car-barnato/#respond Thu, 16 Jun 2016 00:00:21 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=956329 Bentley Barnato could be the name of the British luxury brand’s upcoming two-seat sports coupe, Auto Express reports. The Barnato, which is slated for the 2019 model year, was previewed by the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 concept that surprised everyone at the 2015 Geneva auto show. The Barnato and Bentayga names were registered for...

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Bentley Barnato could be the name of the British luxury brand’s upcoming two-seat sports coupe, Auto Express reports. The Barnato, which is slated for the 2019 model year, was previewed by the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 concept that surprised everyone at the 2015 Geneva auto show.

The Barnato and Bentayga names were registered for trademarks two years ago by Bentley, according to the report. The name is inspired by former Bentley chairman Woolf Barnato, who also raced and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three years in a row from 1928 through 1930.

While Bentley is also rumored to be working on an SUV coupe to arrive alongside the Bentayga SUV, Auto Express suggests the Barnato name would make more sense for a sports coupe. Although the two-seat Barnato would be smaller than the four-seat Bentley Continental GT coupe, it would be positioned as a sportier companion to the grand tourer. Like the next-generation Continental and Flying Spur sedan (and Porsche Panamera) models, the Barnato is expected to be based on the Volkswagen Group’s modular MSB-F architecture.

Rumors are still swirling about a possible fully-electric version of the new two-seat sports car. If it gets the green light, it could be developed alongside the Porsche Mission E. That model could compete with upper-level versions of the Tesla Model S sedan.

The production version of Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 concept along with the Bentayga and upcoming SUV coupe are expected to help the British automaker reach its global sales goals of 20,000 vehicles per year by 2020. Bentley sold around 11,000 units in 2014 and 2015.

Source: Auto Express

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2017 Bentley Continental GT Speed Priced at $240,300 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-bentley-continental-gt-speed-priced-240300/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-bentley-continental-gt-speed-priced-240300/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 19:00:08 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=948786 Bentley has announced pricing for its 2017 Continental GT Speed lineup, and as you can imagine, 633 hp doesn’t come cheap. The GT Speed starts at $240,300 for the base model, while Black Edition versions go for $253,235. The 2017 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible is priced at $264,300 or $277,235 in Black Edition trim....

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Bentley has announced pricing for its 2017 Continental GT Speed lineup, and as you can imagine, 633 hp doesn’t come cheap. The GT Speed starts at $240,300 for the base model, while Black Edition versions go for $253,235.

The 2017 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible is priced at $264,300 or $277,235 in Black Edition trim. All prices listed do not include destination, since Bentley has not yet finalized those fees.

The GT Speed comes packed with a 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine making 633 hp and 619 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers are up from 626 hp and 605 lb-ft on the previous version. For 2017, the Continental GT Speed keeps the eight-speed automatic transmission from last year.

2017 Bentley Continental GT Speed Side Look

Bentley says the GT Speed reaches a top speed of 206 mph and can hit 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. The GT Speed is still Bentley’s fastest production car thanks to its top speed, although the Continental GT3-R is quicker with a 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds according to Bentley’s estimates.

Bentley showed off its GT Speed lineup at an event in New York this week, and these are some of the first live photos of the car we’ve seen. The automaker announced changes to the GT lineup last month.

Bentley dealers in the U.S. are now taking orders for the Continental GT Speed. Deliveries begin this summer.

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Get Your Art Car On with this Pop-Themed Bentley Continental GT Convertible http://www.automobilemag.com/news/get-art-car-pop-themed-bentley-continental-gt-convertible/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/get-art-car-pop-themed-bentley-continental-gt-convertible/#respond Fri, 15 Apr 2016 19:16:12 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=925716 You so badly want to go visit London’s world-famous Tate Modern, but nothing in the garage seems worthy of the task. Fear not, because now, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Bonhams will auction off this one-of-a-kind Bentley Continental GT convertible  in striking Pop art skin. And you thought only BMW made art cars. For...

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You so badly want to go visit London’s world-famous Tate Modern, but nothing in the garage seems worthy of the task. Fear not, because now, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Bonhams will auction off this one-of-a-kind Bentley Continental GT convertible  in striking Pop art skin. And you thought only BMW made art cars.

For its first-ever art car, Bentley thought it fitting to hire Britain’s own Sir Peter Blake, a well-established Pop artist whose work has influenced art-world elite like Damien Hirst. If you’re not into the modern art scene, you might know Blake’s handiwork from his numerous contributions of historic album art for somewhat popular bands like The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) and The Who (Face Dances).

You know, those guys.

Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible by Sir Peter Blake front hood

“I am proud to have been involved with transforming this beautiful car, and have enormous admiration for the people at Bentley who brought my idea into being,” said Blake in a statement.

The car is a clear blast of primary color, and the clearly defined contrast between the deep hues highlight the Continental GT’s swelling lines. It looks a bit like a grade-school watercolor palette, but powered by a 521-hp twin-turbo V-8 instead of eight-year-old Sally in twin pigtails. The flat application of such distinctive color is a classic Pop art method, and it’s a short step to other Pop-themed art cars such as the famous BMWs by Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein.

Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible by Sir Peter Blake headrests

Aston Martin did its own Vantage GTE race car last summer, while Audi’s last effort featured a Brazilian pop artist and a rather expressive RS4 sedan back in 2007.

Blake’s own motif though is the St. James Red heart on the hood, which also is a nod to the charity for which the car will be auctioned. Care2Save Charitable Trust helps provide hospice care around the world.

Blake also teamed up with Mulliner, Bentley’s customization division, for the Continental GT convertible art car. Each of the four seats uses a unique leather color, which are all mirrored onto the multi-colored steering wheel. Specifically it wears a Hotspur outer rim, Newmarket Tan inner rim, Cumbrian Green center, and Imperial Blue stitching, whereas the gear shifter is wrapped in bright pink to contrast with the personalized treadplate and various Piano Black veneers  spread throughout the cabin.

The richest bloody clown in Britain needs to buy this Bentley.

Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible by Sir Peter Blake details Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible by Sir Peter Blake 02 Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible by Sir Peter Blake 01 Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible by Sir Peter Blake plate

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Bentley Continental GT Speed Packs Even More Power, Adds Black Edition http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bentley-continental-gt-speed-packs-even-power-adds-black-edition/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bentley-continental-gt-speed-packs-even-power-adds-black-edition/#respond Mon, 04 Apr 2016 14:07:56 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=917385 The fastest Bentley is now even more powerful. The Bentley Continental GT Speed now produces 633 hp and 619 lb-ft of torque, increases of 7 hp and 15 lb-ft, resulting in a 0-to-60-mph sprint of 3.9 seconds, with a top speed of 206 mph. Bentley says the modifications to the car’s 6.0-liter twin-turbo W-12 engine...

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The fastest Bentley is now even more powerful. The Bentley Continental GT Speed now produces 633 hp and 619 lb-ft of torque, increases of 7 hp and 15 lb-ft, resulting in a 0-to-60-mph sprint of 3.9 seconds, with a top speed of 206 mph.

Bentley says the modifications to the car’s 6.0-liter twin-turbo W-12 engine result in a flat torque curve from 2,000 to 5,000 rpm, dramatically improving acceleration. Building the engine by hand takes over 12 hours and requires input from 30 different craftsmen. An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive send power to the road.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Black Edition convertible rear three quarter

The Bentley Continental GT Speed also gains a new Black Edition model, which is available on both coupe and convertible bodies. The Black Edition treatment adds gloss-black exterior trim, 21-inch black wheels, and brake calipers painted either red or black. But to break up all the black styling, the car’s front splitter, side skirts, and rear diffuser can be painted in four different bright colors, including a new Cyber Yellow. Interior updates include carbon fiber trim and stitching for the leather seats that matches the exterior accent color.

Customers can order the Bentley Continental GT Speed Black Edition now, with the first cars slated to reach customers in the summer.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Black Edition coupe front three quarter Bentley Continental GT Speed Black Edition coupe rear three quarter Bentley Continental GT Speed Black Edition interior cutaway1 Bentley Continental GT Speed Black Edition interior cutaway2

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http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bentley-continental-gt-speed-packs-even-power-adds-black-edition/feed/ 0 Bentley Continental GT Speed Black Edition interior cutaway2 Bentley Continental GT Speed Black Edition convertible rear three quarter Bentley Continental GT Speed Black Edition interior cutaway2 Bentley Continental GT Speed Black Edition interior cutaway2 Bentley Continental GT Speed Black Edition interior cutaway2 Bentley Continental GT Speed Black Edition interior cutaway2
Against the Tide at 200 MPH in a Bentley Continental GT Speed http://www.automobilemag.com/news/against-the-tide-at-200-mph-in-a-bentley-continental-gt-speed/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/against-the-tide-at-200-mph-in-a-bentley-continental-gt-speed/#respond Mon, 04 Apr 2016 12:00:24 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=914211 As the Bentley nears 200 mph I focus solely on its fundamentals: steering, engine, brakes, and the view ahead. Suddenly, it feels race-car basic in here. The hand-made, leather-lined cabin is long forgotten. The two-lane Australian public road stretching out ahead of me is straight, but its surface is uneven. Each dip causes the wheel...

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As the Bentley nears 200 mph I focus solely on its fundamentals: steering, engine, brakes, and the view ahead. Suddenly, it feels race-car basic in here. The hand-made, leather-lined cabin is long forgotten. The two-lane Australian public road stretching out ahead of me is straight, but its surface is uneven. Each dip causes the wheel to kick back and the car’s line to drift. Nerves make me want to strangle the rim, and it’s a conscious effort to keep my grip loose.

The throttle requires the same constant attention to hold wide open. The noise and the sensation through my backside tell me that the 626-horsepower, 6.0-liter W-12 engine is starting to labor, so I must be getting close to 206 mph, or whatever the Continental’s top speed is in these conditions. My gaze is fixed out through the bug-flecked windshield, and I have no desire to follow my progress on the dials. I ought to be able to see 3 miles to the horizon, but there’s a solid heat haze in front of me, so it looks like I’m constantly approaching a crest. The pilot of the helicopter overhead tells me the road is clear, but my instinct for self-preservation would prefer visual confirmation. I’m also hyperaware of the brake pedal because I would very much like to use it.

2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed cabin 01

Plenty of cars will propel you across the face of the Earth at 200 mph, but very few places exist where you can. The autobahns are normally too congested. There are only a handful of test tracks at which you might sustain that speed, and they are closed to the public. And now, there’s this place.

Until 2007, Australia’s Northern Territory had no speed limits on most of its two-lane highways. Vast stretches weren’t even policed. This would astonish anywhere, but it was particularly odd that an absence of speed limits should persist in Australia, whose other states have a monomaniacal focus on speed as the cause of road accidents and enforce their low speed limits with severity.

2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed top view 04

This isn’t a free-for-all; you can still be jailed for six months for driving “carelessly, recklessly, or at a speed or in a manner that is dangerous to the public.”

Northern Territory eventually gave in to federal pressure and imposed a blanket 130 km/h speed limit (just above 80 mph). But last year the territory’s new right-wing Country Liberal administration lifted the limit on two trial stretches of the Stuart Highway between Alice Springs in the heart of the outback to the territorial capital, Darwin, on the coast. In doing so, Northern Territory extended both middle fingers to the global trend toward lower speed limits, greater regulation, and less discretion for the driver. It is the only place in the world that has turned against the tide.

2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed rear three quarter in motion 05

I wanted to sample this freedom while it lasts. I wanted to see how it feels to be given the responsibility to drive on ordinary roads at whatever speed seems right and to be able to drive without the fear of a ticket if my speed inadvertently drifts up slightly to something still safe but usually illegal. I wanted to ask the locals and the police what they think about their “open” limit and at what speed they choose to drive. I wanted to find out why this is happening in Northern Territory and nowhere else. I wanted to mark this moment, this last hurrah for speed and personal responsibility, by putting a really big number on a dial.

But I had to do it quickly. The open limit is hugely controversial. “They’ll have blood on their hands,” says Harold Scruby, chief executive of the dull-sounding Pedestrian Council of Australia. “This is government by hillbilly.”

2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed instrument gauge cluster
Despite open limits, they don’t see many 626-hp cars here.

Peter Chandler, Northern Territory’s transport minister, says, “We are not a state. Northern Territory only exists through a piece of federal legislation, so at any time the federal government can shut us down or influence our laws. I’m hopeful they don’t do that. A lot of people would come out against them trying to take away our rights again.”

Northern Territory is nearly the size of Alaska and more than twice the size of Texas but has only as many inhabitants as Buffalo, New York, or Laredo, Texas, or Irvine, California, and they’re concentrated in its two main towns. Even at 200 mph you’ll struggle to find anyone to hit.

Why a Bentley? Honestly, because Bentley agreed and other carmakers declined. Porsche tested the 918 here after the limit was lifted and made a short online film about it, and Bentley recently did the same, giving me use of the car after its film was safely in the digital can.

The Continental GT Speed is the fastest road car Bentley has ever made. If you plan to do a genuine 200 mph on an uncontrolled public road, you need a car that can do comfortably more, and even the Speed’s claimed 206 mph v-max offers a smaller buffer than I’d like. But its all-wheel drive and air springs have long offered supercar performance with all-condition usability, and it has always been engineered to do 200 mph even if it seldom will.

2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed rear three quarter in motion 01 2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed front view in motion 01 Bentley 200 mph 04 Bentley 200 mph 07

I meet the car in Alice Springs and head north, and as we cross the Tropic of Capricorn, I find what I’ve come for: the diagonal black stripe through a white circle that indicates the end of speed restriction and the three words that every enthusiastic driver would love to see: Drive to Conditions. This isn’t a free-for-all; you can still be jailed for six months for driving “carelessly, recklessly, or at a speed or in a manner that is dangerous to the public,” according to the new Northern Territory traffic regulations, which I made sure to read.

So, what speed do the conditions suggest? Certainly not 200 mph. The car, the road, the weather, and my skill find a natural, comfortable balance between 140 and 150 mph. The Bentley feels utterly within its capabilities at that speed. The steering is calm, braking more than sufficient, and the cabin as quiet as an ordinary car’s at 80 mph. If the open limit were endless, I could have breakfast in Alice Springs and lunch in Darwin more than 900 miles north, and the Continental would cover half a continent in half a day.

2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed cabin 02
Oliver prepares for a 200-mph run with Aussie racer John Bowe in the passenger seat and on the lookout for ’roos. Heat haze is the biggest brake on unrestricted speed on these roads.

You can see the benefit for Territorians who have to make this trip regularly. Even a 100-mph cruise might cut two tired hours from the end of a long trip. I wanted to ask them how they used their freedom, but first I had to find one. There is only one-fifth of a person per square kilometer in Northern Territory. (In comparison, 33 people occupy the same space in the U.S.) I stop at a gas station and ask if many fast cars fill up here, taking advantage of the open speed limits. “Not really,” says the girl making the coffee. “I think we saw a Lamborghini once.”

2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed front three quarter in motion 02

After only 3 miles–a minute and 16 seconds after the chopper pilot says all is clear–we hit 200 mph.

Outside I bump into two cops, who confirm the findings of a survey of crashes and average speeds over the unrestricted stretch during its first year. Of 11 such incidents, only one involved a serious injury, and that was due to drug use and not wearing a seat belt. Most interestingly, the speed at which Territorians choose to drive when you give them freedom of choice is, on average, between 83 mph and 86 mph, barely more than the old limit. One officer repeats what almost every other Territorian has told me: Few people up here have cars that can do much more than that, and for almost everyone, the cost of burning more gas outweighs the temptation to go fast.

What is it then that makes Territorians support the open limits when the rest of Australia is so obsessed with safety? Not all of them do, and some see it as a libertarian stunt. “We like to be different,” minister Chandler tells me. “I think the average Territorian doesn’t much like the South and doesn’t much like being told what to do. I see this as just giving back a right that we once had.”

We’re finally ready to attempt what I came halfway across the world for. What will the Continental do? Australian racing legend John Bowe is in the passenger seat next to me, watching the big GPS speed display stuck to the windshield, working the stopwatch, and spotting for kangaroos. He drove the car down the same stretch of road for the official film. Two local TV news crews have appeared. The cops know what we’re doing and are cool with it.

2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed dashboard 01

The high-speed run doesn’t require much more than checking tire pressures, switching off the air-conditioning, putting the adaptive dampers into their firmest setting, and switching the transmission into Sport mode, which locks out eighth gear. After only 3 miles–a minute and 16 seconds after the chopper pilot says all is clear–we hit 200 mph.

I press on to see how much faster the car will go. In gusting wind and with the steering kicking back furiously, the fine ride quality gone, I eventually hit 204 mph. This feels quite fast enough. As I finally, carefully apply the brakes, I wonder if I’ll ever do this again, or if unregulated speed will vanish over the horizon as quickly as this Bentley.

It's not often you can explain your 200 mph driving technique to a cop.
It’s not often you can explain your 200 mph driving technique to a cop.
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http://www.automobilemag.com/news/against-the-tide-at-200-mph-in-a-bentley-continental-gt-speed/feed/ 0 Bentley 200 mph 16 2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed cabin 01 Bentley 200 mph 16 2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed top view 04 Bentley 200 mph 16 2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed rear three quarter in motion 05 Bentley 200 mph 16 2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed instrument gauge cluster Bentley 200 mph 16 2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed front three quarter in motion 01 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed cabin 02 Bentley 200 mph 16 2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed front three quarter in motion 02 Bentley 200 mph 16 2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed rear view in motion 04 Bentley 200 mph 16 2016 Bentley Continental GT Speed dashboard 01 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 03 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16 Bentley 200 mph 16
Next-Generation Bentley Continental GT Spied Winter Testing http://www.automobilemag.com/news/next-generation-bentley-continental-gt-spied-winter-testing/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/next-generation-bentley-continental-gt-spied-winter-testing/#respond Mon, 07 Mar 2016 20:29:24 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=898236 A few weeks back we spied a next-generation Bentley Continental GT prototype testing on the highway. Now, the same prototype has been caught winter testing, and these photos give us a better look at the new car. As before, we can tell the car is sleeker, drawing inspiration from the EXP10 Speed 6 concept that...

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A few weeks back we spied a next-generation Bentley Continental GT prototype testing on the highway. Now, the same prototype has been caught winter testing, and these photos give us a better look at the new car. As before, we can tell the car is sleeker, drawing inspiration from the EXP10 Speed 6 concept that debuted at the 2015 Geneva auto show.

Now that we’ve got clearer photos of the prototype, it’s instantly recognizable as a Bentley Continental GT thanks to its evolutionary front fascia. The lower front fascia, in particular, is similar to the EXP10 Speed 6 Concept while the radiator grille appears smaller than that of the current-generation Continental GT.  From the side is where the EXP10 Speed 6 Concept’s influence is most apparent, with the prototype showing off a sleeker silhouette and roofline than today’s Conti GT. The rear end also appears less voluptuous than the current Continental GT. Another design element borrowed from the EXP10 Speed 6 concept is the taillight clusters, which have a stretched-oval LED that’s mimicked by the ovular tailpipes.

Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 4

Under the hood, the next-generation Bentley Continental GT will likely retain a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 as its base engine while range-topping variants could possibly receive the 600-hp twin-turbo W-12 from the Bentayga SUV. A plug-in hybrid is also likely since the car will use the Volkswagen Group’s new MSB platform, which will be shared with the next-generation Porsche Panamera.

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http://www.automobilemag.com/news/next-generation-bentley-continental-gt-spied-winter-testing/feed/ 0 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 4 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1 Bentley Continental GT front three quarters 1
Sky’s the Limit: Bentley Flying Spur Meets the Breitling Jet Team http://www.automobilemag.com/news/skys-the-limit-bentley-flying-spur-meets-the-breitling-jet-team/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/skys-the-limit-bentley-flying-spur-meets-the-breitling-jet-team/#respond Fri, 04 Mar 2016 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=888342 The thrill of the jet age came and went with a whoosh.  Just as swiftly as subsonic travel signaled the dawn of futurist glamour, its rose-colored promise slipped away, supplanting silvery, cloud-piercing dreams with the reality of cramped airliners and mass transportation. Decades after the fall, I’m pinned to the seat of an Aero L-39...

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The thrill of the jet age came and went with a whoosh.  Just as swiftly as subsonic travel signaled the dawn of futurist glamour, its rose-colored promise slipped away, supplanting silvery, cloud-piercing dreams with the reality of cramped airliners and mass transportation.

Decades after the fall, I’m pinned to the seat of an Aero L-39 Albatros by six times my body weight, climbing 12,000 feet above Central California’s sprawling vineyards on a clear autumn morning. The blood in my cranium wants to drain to my extremities as the jet pulls a loop; when the needle-nosed aircraft finally settles back into a level, horizon-bound trajectory, six other L-39s maintain locked-in positions in my peripheral vision, two of them within an arm’s reach of my plane’s surprisingly short wingspan. They stay tight in formation for a breath, pilots and passengers so close you can see them blink, air brakes extending and retracting beneath the fuselages to fine-tune their speed in synchrony. After a few more moments of level flight, a radio call from the lead aircraft summons each pilot, triggering the jets to fall away, one by one, into the sky like windblown leaves. As my pilot eventually peels away, the sun glints off the Pacific as the horizon skews, and we return to base to land. Despite, or perhaps because of, the g-forces, I’m buzzing on Jet A fuel like it’s 1955.

Back on terra firma, blood re-ensconced in my cerebrum and land legs reacclimating, I mix with the pilots and ponder why a luxury automaker like Bentley has partnered with an aviation-entrenched watchmaker like Breitling. The concept has become somewhat clearer—the majesty of precisely executed formation flying is a not-so-subtle reminder of the lure of military aviation, one so uniquely masculine and visceral it has the power to captivate virtually anyone with a pulse, let alone predisposed gearheads with a penchant for speed. But the differences between the shockingly spartan L-39 cockpit and the interior of virtually any Bentley make the connection blurrier, especially considering the British marque’s unabashed poshness.

Flying Spurs 18
The author, Basem Wasef, suits up for his ride in the L-39.

Apart from a shared focus on performance and engineering, the man/machine interface in a car couldn’t be more starkly different from the man/machine interface in a plane. Objectively and mechanically speaking, there simply isn’t much Venn diagram overlap between the 40-foot-long, turbofan-powered jet and the luxurious 626-horsepower, W-12-engined coupe. Unlike the Czech-built aircraft’s stark cockpit, which incorporates an industrial aluminum instrument panel replete with Soviet-era gauges, the Bentley Continental GT Speed Breitling Jet Team Series Limited Edition—a mouthful of a car with a $298,854.99 price tag—gilds the lily with a lavish elaboration on Bentley’s so-called Mulliner spec trim. Quilted hide is stitched with a shock of yellow thread inside the posh interior, a theme carried outside with an exuberant rim of bright mustard around the ground-effects lip. The cabin’s carbon-fiber trim is so elegantly matted and finished that it defies both extremes typically associated with the material—the race-ready functionality of lightweight construction, and the purposelessly ostentatious parading of the stuff. In contrast, the bare-bones jet interior is the stuff of pure function, armed for training duty with an oxygen mask, a slab of a seat, and a wraparound canopy designed to jettison if and when the VS-1 rocket-equipped ejector seat is triggered.

Flying Spurs 10
There’s nothing casual about the Breitling Jet experience; aerobatic flights drip with ceremony and swagger.

Driving the special edition GT—of which Bentley built only seven (all sold)—reveals oodles of seamless torque and a deliciously blatty, popping exhaust note. It heralds a coterie of decidedly badass qualities, vaguely materialist pride, and a sense of purposeful occasion, but is the Bentley that shares tarmac space with L-39s the sort of vehicle a fighter pilot would choose? Hoping for clues, I talk shop with several Breitling pilots about their emotional connections to terrestrial vehicles.

A quick survey of the Breitling jet jockeys’ personal garages reveals more than a streak of motor oil in the blood. The four-wheeled possessions of this ragtag group of seven uncover a smattering of blue-chip auto enthusiast choices, among them a Lotus Elise S1, a Citroën DS 20, and a C5 Corvette. Interestingly, convertibles strike a particular chord, a point emphasized by team leader Jacques “Speedy” Bothelin, who counts an Audi A5 cabrio among his personal fleet. Bothelin, who lives in the French Alpine town of Val-d’Isère and hits the slopes in a Range Rover Sport, says open-air cars hold a special place in his heart.

“All I dreamed about when I was a kid was convertibles,” he admits. “I drive the A5 in the summertime because I like the scent of the countryside and the feeling of the sun.” This is an unexpected and curious streak of sensuality from the leader of the pack, a trait that carries through to the fact all seven pilots have a thing for motorcycles, with personal steeds ranging from a Yamaha R1 (Georges-Eric “Georgio” Castaing), a Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail (Bothelin), Ducati 916 and Honda CB750 (Bernard “Charbo” Charbonnel), and a 1977 Ural sidecar and 1935 Motobecane 350 Bloc S (Patrick “Gaston” Marchand).

Flying Spurs 12
The L-39’s short wingspan aids maneuverability. Tight flying formations are an added bonus.

But beyond their ground-based toys, the Jet Team has a deep affection for flying, so deep that some have been into aviation longer than they’ve been driving. When you piloted a glider at age 15 but couldn’t get a driver’s license till 18 (as did Bothelin), some destinies simply create themselves. All Breitling pilots have amassed thousands of hours of cockpit time over the years; Bothelin, who’s been flying for more than four decades, has a staggering 11,000 under his belt. Left-outside wingman Marchand flies his Zlin 526 vintage aerobatic aircraft when he’s not “working”; right-inside wingman Charbonnel calls no fewer than three World War II-era biplanes his own: a Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann, a Bücker Bü 133 Jung­meister, and a Stampe SV-4. When these guys aren’t flying, they dream of flying.

Days after my flight, I give a follow-up call to further tap into Bothelin’s mind and put a finger on what it is that ties these two worlds together.

“Maybe you will think I’m not honest in saying this,” he tells me earnestly, “but the next car I’m going to buy will be a Bentley. I love this car.” He goes on to say that more than a decade ago he flew a demonstration flight for the launch of the Continental GT and has been “dreaming of the car since.”

What is it about the Flying B that captures Bothelin’s imagination?

Flying Spurs 15
Team leader Jacques “Speedy” Bothelin’s 11,000 hours in aircraft heightened his appreciation for cars such as the blue Flying Spur and the GT Speed.

“When I finish a weekend of flying, what I want to drive is something very quiet with the smell of leather and a comfortable atmosphere. That’s really what I look for in a car.”

Stepping back and considering the broad implications of aerobatic jet flight, its obvious environmental anachronisms are easily obliterated by the dizzying thrill of moving through three-dimensional space. Just like a thirsty 12-cylinder mill propelling a 2.5-ton car, it’s hard to regret the carbon footprint of burning 1,000 pounds of fuel per hour when your stomach is in your throat. Even if an L-39 trainer jet’s 3,970 pounds of thrust and 565-mph top speed serve no other purpose than to demonstrate the seemingly impossible physics of military aerobatics, its mechanical extremism represents a level of velocity and maneuverability that remains unmatched by virtually any earthbound vehicle.

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Bothelin and the rest of the Breitling Jet Team will perform at various air shows in 2016. You can see the schedule at breitling-jet-team.com.
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2014 Saab 9-3 Production Begins in Sweden http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2014-saab-9-3-production-begins-in-sweden-257473/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2014-saab-9-3-production-begins-in-sweden-257473/#respond Mon, 02 Dec 2013 21:30:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2014-saab-9-3-production-begins-in-sweden-257473/ Saab lives once again thanks to its new owner, NEVS.

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Despite Saab’s demise last year, the Saab 9-3 is once again in production in Sweden thanks to National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), a conglomerate company that now owns most of Saab’s intellectual property. The first 2014 Saab 9-3 sedans began rolling off the assembly line in Trollhättan this week and will be sold mainly in China, with a limited number of vehicles available for purchase in Sweden as well.

In case you missed the story a few years ago, Saab declared bankruptcy in late 2011 and went through a series of failed rescue attempts from companies like Dutch supercar maker Spyker. Eventually, National Electric Vehicle, a Chinese company, purchased Saab’s Trollhättan production facility and other pieces of the company’s intellectual property like the outgoing Saab 9-3. Other elements of Saab, like the 9-5 sedan and the Saab Automobile Parts AB company, remain independent from NEVS, as the 9-5 is owned by General Motors and the parts company is a stand-alone enterprise.

Contrary to what the NEVS name suggests, the 2014 Saab 9-3 sedans in production in Sweden are not powered by an electric drivetrain. Instead, these Saab 9-3 Aero sedans are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine making 220 hp paired with either a manual or an automatic transmission. NEVS does say that there will be an electric car based on the 9-3 which will launch in spring 2014.

Sales of the 2014 Saab 9-3 will start this month, and the car will be available for purchase in Sweden through NEVS’ website on December 10. Initially, NEVS plans to produce around 10 cars a week, with production increasing according to demand in the future. The starting price is 279,000 Swedish Krona, slightly more than $40,000 under the current exchange rate. At this point it’s unlikely for NEVS to export these Saabs to the U.S., but the company does say that expansion could take place into “markets where we see potential for growth and profitability.”

2014 saab 9 3 aero front grille 2014 saab 9 3 aero front three quarters 2014 saab 9 3 aero profile 2014 saab 9 3 aero rear three quarters saab 9 3 production sweden

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Collectible Classic: 1979-1994 Saab 900 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/collectible-classic-1979-1994-saab-900/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/collectible-classic-1979-1994-saab-900/#respond Mon, 10 Sep 2012 19:18:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/collectible-classic-1979-1994-saab-900/ The world's best roads are sometimes dead ends.

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Some slogans are invented by marketing folks to help shape a company’s image. Others simply relay the truth. SAAB stands for Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, so the cars were indeed “born from jets,” as the company’s advertising once boasted. The “find your own road” campaign couldn’t have been more appropriate, although “we at Saab found our own road” might have been more accurate.

If there’s one thing Swedish engineers did best, it was ignore conventions. Saab’s own road — in retrospect a bumpy path to a bankrupt dead end — once looked to be among the most interesting in the automotive universe. Nostalgically speaking, it’s a memory lane best taken in the original 900, which was an evolution of the 99, the car that made Saab a household name and solidified the brand’s unconventional reputation.

It might not have had a two-stroke three-cylinder or a V-4 like earlier Saabs, but the 900’s otherwise conventional in-line four-cylinder is mounted longitudinally. That alone is unusual in a front-wheel-drive car, but the engine is also installed backward and leaning at a 45-degree angle. Intentionally, no less. The transaxle is mounted underneath, driven via a chain at the front of the car, leaving the belt-driven accessories sandwiched against the firewall. The Turbo’s exhaust manifold is “conventional,” meaning that it exits toward the rear of the engine. Therefore, in the backward 900, the hot gases blow forward toward the passenger-side headlight before making a tight U-turn at the turbocharger, coming ridiculously close to the heat-sensitive battery on their way to the back of the car.

1979 1994 Saab 900 front left side view 1979 1994 Saab 900 rear right side view 1979 1994 Saab 900 rear badge 1979 1994 Saab 900 front right view 1979 1994 Saab 900 rear left side view 1979 1994 Saab 900 steering wheel 1979 1994 Saab 900 keys 1979 1994 Saab 900 engine

The leaning tower of powertrain is mounted almost completely ahead of the axle, resulting in a long front overhang that somehow looks normal when attached to the rest of what editor-in-chief Jean Jennings called the “nutso shape” while describing the 900 twenty-five years ago. She conceded that it was “a gas to look at.” It still is, even though its basic lines date back to the 1969 Saab 99.

The 900 is effectively a stretched 99, and like that car, its shape and the location of its engine make for an impossibly spacious cabin. Flat, vertical body sides create a large greenhouse, and, thanks to a wraparound windshield, the A-pillars stay out of the driver’s typical line of sight. Hatchback models have the cargo versatility of a small van, with rear seats that fold into a flat floor that’s ideal for Ikea runs.

Every button and control on the 900’s flat dashboard is well placed and offers perfect tactile feedback. The gauges are softly lit in green, and some 900s include something special: a boost gauge.

The Saab Turbo — introduced on the 99 and continued with the 900 — was one of the first turbocharged mass-production engines. Following the low-volume 1960s General Motors engines and the expensive 1970s Porsche 911 Turbo, it was Saab that truly brought turbocharged power to mainstream buyers.

Except, of course, nothing about Saab’s vehicles was mainstream. The 900’s sills are actually part of the doors, so you don’t get your pants dirty when getting out in bad weather. Saab introduced the seat heater to the world; it was also the first to install a cabin air filter and headlight washers. The 900 Turbo was the first car to use knock sensors to control boost (a system Saab called APC), and it’s the only car to ever pull off three-spoke wheels. That alone is a significant achievement.

The 900 was in production for nearly fifteen years, and the later models have countless small upgrades that Saab made along the way (practical things such as moving the emergency brake from the front to the rear wheels). Even with those improvements, the 900 lost none of the quirks that make it unique (like the front cornering lights that illuminate when the transmission is in reverse).

The car photographed here is one of the very last — a 1993 Commemorative Edition 900 Turbo. Saab planned to build 325 of these two-door hatchbacks, but the company apparently gave up after only 314. Why be normal? (There were also 500 Commemorative Edition convertibles produced the next year.)

Chris Zappala, the coupe’s owner, made a few changes, such as removing the foglights and the wooden dash applique. The $33,065 CE came fully loaded, with black paint and a tan leather interior, gray wheels, and a sport suspension. It also received the most powerful engine ever installed in a U.S.-market 900. The 2.0-liter sixteen-valve unit produced 185 hp and 201 lb-ft of torque, more than the base 900 Turbo (160 hp, 188 lb-ft) and the 900 Turbo SPG (175 hp, 195 lb-ft).

There’s a ton of turbo lag, but learn to drive around it and the 900 is a very quick car — and one with surprisingly little torque steer, at least when the steering wheel is pointed straight. Dial in a couple degrees of lock, and the front wheels will scramble toward the nearest curb like a frightened dog. The ride is very supple by the big-wheel, low-sidewall standards of modern sport sedans. The shifter is remarkably accurate, the brake pedal is firm, and the distinctive Saab four-cylinder soundtrack is well muted from inside the cabin.
That deep exhaust note brought back a flood of memories as I walked toward Zappala’s idling car. That’s because half of my childhood was spent in my mother’s black-on-tan 1981 Saab 900 Turbo sedan — and the other half watching it bob around on the back of a flatbed tow truck. I brought my mom along for this drive, and neither of us was surprised when the 900 Turbo greeted us by stalling the instant I touched the door handle. The words for “roadside assistance” and “welcome back” in the Trollhaettan dialect of Swedish might be the same.

But the words “quirky” and “charming” also seem to be interchangeable. Few cars since the Saab 900 have had so much personality. Today, the auto industry has been reduced to a few main players, all of whom have gone down the same reliable, efficient, and inexpensive path to building indistinguishable, unimaginative cars. Saab truly went its own way, got lost, and broke down — but it made some of the world’s coolest cars in the process. In the words of the late founder of Automobile Magazine, David E. Davis, Jr., in a review of the original 1978 Saab Turbo: “If you have never driven a Saab, you have been culturally deprived for too long. You owe this to yourself.” Now there’s a slogan Saab could have used.

THE SPECS
ENGINES

2.0L SOHC I-4, 110-115 hp, 119-123 lb-ft
2.0L DOHC I-4, 125-128 hp, 123-128 lb-ft
2.1L DOHC I-4, 140 hp, 133 lb-ft
2.0L SOHC turbo I-4, 135 hp, 160-172 lb-ft
2.0L DOHC turbo I-4, 160-185 hp, 188-201 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS
4- or 5-speed manual 3-speed automatic
DRIVE
Front-wheel
SUSPENSION, FRONT
Control arms, coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR
Torsion beam, coil springs
BRAKES f/r
Vented discs/discs
WEIGHT
2600-3050 lb

THE INFO
YEARS PRODUCED

1979-1994
NUMBER PRODUCED
Some 900,000 worldwide, of which about one-quarter were turbocharged
ORIGINAL PRICE
$8198 (1979 coupe), $40,875 (1994 Commemorative Edition convertible)
VALUE TODAY
$1500-$8000 (Turbocharged cars and convertibles are worth the most.)
WHY BUY?
No other Saab matched the 900’s combination of quirky and livable — and the fifteen-year run is proof that being different can work. It was inordinately expensive toward the end of its life, but the 900 was also extraordinarily well-equipped. It’s just as cool to drive as it is to look at, and owning one tells the world you’re an independent thinker. With a good mechanic. On the bright side, today’s reliable turbocharged cars have turbo Saabs (and their patient owners) to thank for doing so much real-world R&D.

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Saab’s Parts Division Being Sued by BMW Regarding Unpaid Parts http://www.automobilemag.com/news/saabs-parts-division-being-sued-by-bmw-regarding-unpaid-parts-165451/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/saabs-parts-division-being-sued-by-bmw-regarding-unpaid-parts-165451/#respond Fri, 24 Aug 2012 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/saabs-parts-division-being-sued-by-bmw-regarding-unpaid-parts-165451/ Saab Automobile Parts AB, the former parts division of Saab, is being sued by BMW for $3.2 million over unpaid deliveries of spare parts allegedly ordered by the automaker before its December 2011 bankruptcy, Fox Business reports.

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Saab Automobile Parts AB, the former parts division of Saab, is being sued by BMW for $3.2 million over unpaid deliveries of spare parts allegedly ordered by the automaker before its December 2011 bankruptcy, Fox Business reports.

BMW and Saab signed an agreement in September 2010 in which BMW would supply four-cylinder engines, components, and spare parts for new Saab 9-3 models. The lawsuit asserts that Saab ordered a large quantity of components and spare parts from BMW that haven’t been paid for and that the spare parts division is now responsible since the automaker went bankrupt in December.

“Saab Automobile Parts AB have not ordered or received any spare parts or components from BMW,” said Lennart Stahl, Chief Executive of Saab Automobile Parts AB to Fox Business. “Why would a spare part company order components for a car model that’s not yet in production?”

Saab used the spare parts unit as collateral for loans from the European Investment Bank. The spare parts division will be sold off to collect the automaker’s debt. When Saab went bankrupt it had only $500 million in assets, but was $2 billion in debt.

Earlier this month, Spyker filed a $3 billion lawsuit against GM saying the automaker forced Saab to go into bankruptcy for not allowing Chinese investors to buy Saab’s assets. GM said that Saab’s assets included GM technology, which could compromise the automaker’s global operations if sold to Chinese automakers.

Source: Fox Business

2011 Saab 9 4X front 21 2011 Saab 9 4X front 3jpeg1 2011 Saab 9 4X front three quarter1 2011 Saab 9 4X front1 2011 Saab 9 4X interior1 2011 Saab 9 4X rear1 2011 Saab 9 5 front three quarter1 2012 Saab 9 3 interior 2012 Saab 9 3 sportcombi side 2012 Saab 9 5 assembly line1 2012 Saab 9 5 front1 Saab 9 3 convertible front view Saab 9 3 convertible Saab 94 X front three quarter 21 Saab 94 X front three quarter 111

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