2013 Bentley Continental GTC V8

You would be forgiven for forgetting that this is a quarter-million-dollar car because it just doesn't feel special. Yes, the eight-cylinder is a well of seemingly infinite power and every surface that looks like metal, leather, or glass is what is looks, but there is some ephemeral sensation missing. It's as though this Bentley ticks all the boxes on what a ultra-luxury car should have: it has a specialized, high-end audio system designed by Naim and bespoke to the car; it has ornate, cross-hatched metal detailing; and a powerful 500-hp 4.0-liter V-8 engine. But none of those pieces feel as though they are a step above the mainline luxury fray, as should be the case in a car with this price tag. In fact, the engine was co-developed with Audi for use in most of the lesser brand's products.

The fact that the car is festooned inside and out with Flying B emblems is a sign that it's trying too hard to remind occupants that they are in a car from an exclusive marque. Past Bentleys have been more demure in their declaration of the brand and the bits and pieces felt as though they were carefully crafted by an artisan, not turned out in a factory. Nothing is technically wrong with the GTC V8, but there is nothing that would keep me from calling this car an Audi if I were blindfolded.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor

I've always been amazed by how effectively Volkswagen Group manages its portfolio of brands. Audis feel like Audis, Lamborghinis feel like Lamborghinis, and Bugattis -- well, I've never driven one but hear they're pretty awesome. This Bentley, however, doesn't feel quite like I'd imagined a Bentley.

Some of it can be blamed on poor execution. The trim surrounding the shifter, for instance, is a large piece of what looks to be metallic painted plastic. Mostly though, the Bentley is a fantastic machine that simply doesn't meet my admittedly subjective, ephemeral expectations for a $230,000 British luxury car. The 4.0-liter V-8 is incredible from a technical standpoint but, as Donny notes, lacks a certain emotional quality. Its somewhat artificial exhaust note, audible only in sport mode, is certainly distinctive but, again, doesn't seem to contribute to a cohesive branded experience. Neither do the bajillion Bentley emblems. Even the most successful aspect of the Continental -- its instantly recognizable, handsome exterior styling -- doesn't quite sit right with me. It looks something like an exaggerated caricature of what a high-end car should be, which probably explains why so many nouveau rich types drive them around South Beach.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

Wow, I'm really not picking up on what Donny and David are throwing down. Their vaguely stated issues with the GTC V8 seem to revolve around the fact that it's flashy and expensive. Well, yeah.

I went on the international launch of this car, which was held in Croatia. Naturally, the setting was beautiful, but I thought the car was pretty swell too. Now I've driven it in southeastern Michigan, and although these environs are considerably less fabulous, I find the Continental GTC V8 to be undiminished.

Although some Bentleys of yore may have been more about exclusivity than execution, the Continental GTC does not disappoint. Its interior is richly turned out in the best materials. The thick convertible top effectively blocks out noise. The ride quality is incredibly good even on roads that are incredibly bad.

And then there's the new V-8 engine. Not only does it move this heavy machine with authority, but its deeply sonorous engine note does an excellent imitation of a twelve-cylinder. Choosing the turbo V-8 and foregoing the optional W-12 saves buyers of the Continental GTC some $21,400, which ought to be enough to pay for a nice vacation -- say, to Croatia.

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

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