2010 Bentley Continental GT Speed Series 51

This is the swan song for the current Continental GT, which I first drove in July 2003 in Scotland, and a memorable drive it was. Later, I drove a different Conti GT at 165 mph in Death Valley; another drive for the mental scrapbook. As have always been the case, straight-line speed and acceleration are remarkable. Great exhaust note. But there are signs of age, and it is certainly time for the new Continental, which is going on sale in early 2011 and which we will be driving soon.

The navigation interface, for one, is very dated. It's ironic that the nav system in a Hyundai Sonata is ten times better than the one in this Bentley. I enjoyed playing around with the adjustable suspension, which has four settings from comfort to sport. I managed induce a bit of oversteer on a couple of on-ramps, but it was easily controlled.

The interior of our test car was absolutely beautiful. This one is black with cream diamond-stitched inserts on seats and door panels with contrasting dark gray stitching. Wow. Machined aluminum faceplates to the instrument panel, center stack, and surround in front of the passenger are fetching-and well they should be, since I notice that they cost $7650.

From 110 mph to a hard stop, the brakes weren't hugely inspiring as the pedal didn't bite as quickly and as strongly as I would have liked. They did the job, ultimately, but you do feel the weight of this car when you're asking it to decelerate quickly.

Remarkably big trunk; I filled it with lots of loot from Costco. Great stereo. We made a big splash at the Toyota dealership in Maumee, Ohio, where we were shopping for a used pickup truck.

It's always interesting to look under the hood of the Conti GT to see how far forward and highly positioned the W-12 engine is; this is not good for weight distribution. The new car will have a V-8 (as an alternative to the W-12), which should help reduce the pendulum effect of the current car's twelve-cylinder lump hanging off the front end.

All in all, still a very nice car, although you'd have to think carefully about all the other ways you could spend $237K. One other thing: when I filled the fuel tank, I could not figure out where the fuel cap would go; it's on a tether but I couldn't find a mount. So this beautiful aluminum cap was left dangling against the bodywork.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

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