Fantasy is fun, and I indulge regularly, especially being an automotive journalist. This week fantasy (among many others that I can’t publish here) involved the ultimate, money-is-no-object first date sled. A Ferrari would be fun, though a tad obnoxious for a first date. A Rolls-Royce would bring all the spoils, but are we going to a formal here? Hope not. A Bentley Continental GT? Now we’re talking.I recently got a chance to sample Bentley’s newest Continental GT coupe model, equipped with its splendid new turbocharged V8, and found myself thinking that if a guy came and picked me up in one of these, it could be Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong and it would be awfully hard to tell the difference.Appropriately Intimate
First, the Continental’s tidy, two-door, four-chair package is as much car as any bachelor really needs, even if he has more money than Bill Gates. It’s got presence, but not too much, with a seductive design that starts with a broad, dare I say phallic front end sweeping into pontoon-style fenders. My personal favorite element is the pillar-less window treatment that creates one unbroken opening when all windows are lowered.
The cabin is decidedly intimate space for the driver and his chosen passenger, with somewhat smaller seats to occasionally seat two friends behind them. Its low roof and slim windows are all the better for a discreet after-dinner make out session—but there is nowhere near enough room to get it on in back. Remember, this is a date car, not a hotel room; invite him inside for further shenanigans if you have any class.
The Exact Opposite of Pretentious
It should go without saying that Bentleys are authentic, or put another way, what you see if what you get. What looks like engine-turned aluminum, is engine-turned aluminum. What looks like leather, is exactly that (and of the very softest kind). And if it looks like hand-rubbed wood, well, don’t get me started on the hand-rubbed wood. Suffice it to say, if authenticity is an admirable trait in a man, the Continental GT is very flattering indeed.
A Little Bit Eccentric
Hand-built by career craftsmen and women in Crewe, England, every Bentley is has a human-ness that is hard to describe, but easy to feel. For example, the minute variations in the stitching on the steering wheel and dashboard, as well as the gathers in the leather here and there show that a person, not a machine, does the hard work here. It is fabulous.
If there are any flies in the ointment, the biggest would be the infotainment/navigation system, with its dated-feeling, sometimes confusing interface and delayed responses. Hopefully my dream bachelor will be more fluent in the operation of these controls than I was able to become in my short three days with it. Also, for $200K, I would like to see a radar cruise control, and the availability of a sunroof. There is a convertible version, I suppose, but it’s not quite as pretty.
A Turn-on When Turned On
As lovely as it is to behold, the Continental GT V-8 is even more alluring once you turn it on. Bentley’s new 500-hp V-8 has deep reserves of turbocharged power and sounds absolutely intoxicating. Its breathtaking acceleration is made possible thanks to an eight-speed transmission and all-wheel grip. How fast is it? From a stop, 60 mph flies by in about 4.5 seconds, and if there’s enough space and a flat, straight road ahead, 185 mph is theoretically possible, though a wise bachelor won’t show you that on a first date, since first kisses aren’t cute behind bars.Still Made of Unobtanium
The Continental GT V-8’s $178,425 base price makes it the cheapest car Bentley builds, but, uh, it is certainly no bargain. And honestly, the dream first date I’ve been discussing here is bound to remain exactly that—a dream—for pretty much everyone reading this (myself included). But trust me, any actual eligible bachelor lucky enough to drive one of these may not be eligible for long.
By The Numbers
Renowned automotive journalist and gay car geek Steve Siler has turned his life-long love of cars into a fruitful and enthusiastic career traveling the world to test thousands of new vehicles as they are introduced. Siler is s regular contributor to Car and Driver Magazine, Edmunds.com,AutoTrader.com, AOL Autos and Yahoo! Autos, and also pioneered automotive writing for the GLBT community more than a decade ago.Steve Siler