2009 Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed

Don Sherman

For a woman who opens the door of this very luscious hot-rod Bentley, there is nothing quite like that first look at the quilted beige leather seats. They say "Chanel handbag" and that says money, a LOT of money. The flawless interior is very much what we would expect from a Volkswagen franchise. The beautiful materials: Deep chocolate leather, double-stitched and quilted on the door panels as well as the aforementioned seats, piped in white leather (seat piping: $2650). The turned metal dash faceplates, like Bugattis of old (bright aluminum instrument panel inserts: $2430). Low-gloss wood trim strategically located around the cabin. The precision controls: Beautiful gauges, positive pushbutton controls.

And for a woman like me who sees the word SPEED on the sill plate of a Bentley, there is nothing like that first stomp on the accelerator to make me smile. It's a phenomenal engine that pours the power on at your will. SPEED, indeed. It is only slightly more satisfying than braking at high speed, thanks to fabulous carbon ceramic brakes ($16,500 option).

Just to give you an idea of what Sherman's talking about in terms of other high-priced goodies, how about $3040 for adaptive cruise, which I abhor? Then there's the lovely, but $6900 Naim audio, to which you can bring your own iPod if you also order the $450 iPod interface. If you have a chauffeur, you won't mind paying $7700 for rear-seat entertainment (with wireless headphones), $7650 to have the center console extended back between the rear seats, and $2580 for the lovely picnic tables that fold down and include vanity mirrors.

Don't be surprised that other drivers and pedestrians rarely give you a second glance. The proportions of this big Bentley sedan give it a well-balanced look that makes it seem smaller than it actually is, especially in silver. There are virtually no markings (someone had to tell me it was a Flying Spur), just that classic "B" on the hood, the trunk, and on each of the four wheel centers. If you know Bentleys, you also see this one is special by its mesh-covered intake on the lower front fascia under the main radiator opening and the wide, elliptical dual exhausts poking out the rear.

Having returned from a drive across Europe in a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe, only to step directly into the Bentley Too Many Names Speed, I think I'd just save up another $200,000 and spring for the Phantom Coupe.

Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief

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