Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Ultimate Coupe

A few weeks ago I posted my thoughts about a 2014 BMW M6 Grand Coupe that eCarOne let me drive over a weekend.  That car, in my opinion, was probably one of the most complete cars I had ever driven.  It has power, beauty, finesse, and the practicality of four doors.  I enjoyed it so much that sadly I was not looking forward to getting back to my beloved Maserati Quattroporte (which is by far my favorite of all 35+ cars I've owned).

After driving the Bimmer, I really didn't think I'd find anything else that compares in terms of overall driving experience.  But then I started to think about that for a minute and realized that "complete" really depends on what you're looking for.  From my perspective, completeness comes in the combination of power, handling, and practicality.  However, for many others that are not in my situation (family of five), practicality may just take on the form of having a back seat or a decent trunk to put the golf bag.  Handling may not mean taking 30-degree banks at 80mph, and power does not have to be tire shredding power in order to be noticed.  I guess what I'm saying is that completeness comes in many different forms and always depends on the driver's perception.

This leads me to talk a little about the car I had over the last weekend from eCarOne.  As usual, I took my toddler son with me to eCarOne to see what car to blog next.  As soon as we walked into the showroom, my son notices a beautiful white Bentley Continental GT Coupe parked on the floor.  He immediately runs to it and starts inspecting it!  As I'm talking to one of the owners, I realize that I have not yet blogged about a Bentley.  The owner greets my boy and asks him... what car do you want dad to drive today?  My son fearlessly says "the Bentley!"  My friend smiles and looks at me.... and I say, hey you asked him... So, 20 minutes later we're off in a 2008 Bentley Continental GT Coupe.  To be perfectly honest, I was a bit nervous and I'm sure I was not the only one.  This was not a run of the mill GT Coupe that can be had for $70k used... it was a gorgeous fully optioned Coupe with the exclusive Mulliner package.  Although eCarOne priced this car below the Bimmer I had the weekend before, I was still more nervous than ever.  I guess it's because I had never driven a Bentley and didn't know what to expect.

So, I placed my boy's car seat in the back seat and I buckled myself in.  Without any expectations, I started the car (love the left-hand side ignition location... very Porsche).  When the engine came to life, I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful roar... did not expect that.  I then remembered that his is a twin turbo 6.0L V12 engine... this is not a tame cruiser; it's a beast dressed as a princess.  I like to take my son with me to pick up any car from eCarOne because having him with me forces me to take it easy and this is very helpful in getting to know the car first.  During the 20 minute drive home, I can take my time to understand all the features of the car and more importantly to learn about how the car behaves.  I did just that with the Bentley and after putting the car in sport mode and punching the gas a bit, I couldn't wait to get home and drop off my son so that I can take it for a good test drive.

Later that evening, I had a chance to get a little time behind the wheel on my own.  I have to say that this car is really not what I expected.  I figured it would drive like a big Jag, Merc, Bimmer, or Audi but it does not drive like any of those.  First of all, the suspension is so refined and so smooth that it's unlike any other driving experience.  It's sporty but supple at the same time. I really don't know how to explain it, except it's like riding on compressed air.  On the highway, all dips, bumps and uneven surfaces are completely absorbed and go almost unnoticed.  In the corners, the car hunkers down and grips very well through the entire curve, all with very good confidence.  As for steering feel, it's light as you'd expect from a Bentley but not loose.  The cabin is whisper quiet, except when you rev the engine... you hear a subtle yet very throaty exhaust note.  And it's not all show and no go... this thing moves!  There is no shortage of power or torque at any part of the rpm range... it's like a freight train; and why wouldn't it feel that way... it's powered by a monster 6.0L V12 Twin Turbo which makes nearly 500 lb-ft of torque at only 1,600 rpm.  In layman terms, this Bentley generates as much pulling power as TWO Ford F-150 trucks!  And it generates this power as soon as you hit the gas!  Yeah, I like it!

There really is nothing to dislike about this car.  If I said I'd like the steering to be a bit tighter, I would be out of place... because the typical Bentley buyer would love the steering feel just the way it is.  If I said I'd like more rear legroom, then I'd be an idiot... it's a coupe; not a sedan.  Overall, this car is beautiful to look it, beautiful to drive, and at just over $100k from eCarOne, it's attainable at nearly half its MSRP.

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