Since the Volkswagen Group took over stewardship of Bentley, the German carmaker has pretty much left its British subsidiary to its own devices. VW provides some chassis and powertrain expertise while Bentley’s own designers and engineers craft the equivalent of automotive sculpture inside and out. This partnership has paid dividends, as Bentley has seen its sales consistently increase in the U.S. (its biggest market) and around the world.
You might not need us to tell you that a Bentley is fabulous. Stunning lines, sumptuous interiors, and tremendous power are just a few of the many high points of the brand’s entire product line.
What’s not to love? Price and fuel economy are obvious things, but a few of the niggles I had with our recent 2014 Bentley Continental GTC Speed convertible go a bit deeper than that. While this is still an absolutely wonderful grand touring sports car, this shining diamond has a few flaws.
Disclaimer: The spleen venting here is strictly that of the author, and the opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the entirety of Consumer Guide Automotive.
1) Shimmy Shake
Despite Bentley’s best efforts to counteract it, the Continental GTC Speed still suffers from the cowl shake and body quiver you’ll find on many convertibles. It’s by no means dramatic, but a few less-expensive performance ragtops (for example, the BMW M6) feel more solid when traversing anything less than glass-smooth pavement.
2) Squealing Ceramics
The GTC Speed we received for evaluation was equipped with high-performance carbon-ceramic brake discs. With technology derived from Formula 1 racing, ceramic discs are designed to resist heat. Further, under normal driving conditions, these parts can last the life of the car. Two issues arise when using these parts, though: 1) They are tremendously expensive. Bentley charges nearly $14,000 to upgrade the Continental GTC Speed. 2) Unless you get the discs hot enough (by frequently stopping from 100-plus mph), they squeak and squeal like a 2-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. It’s especially annoying if you’re trying to enjoy a top-down cruise.
3) That’s a Paddlin’
This is a personal problem, but the included paddle shifters for the standard 8-speed automatic transmission are mounted on the steering column, rather than the wheel. My short, stubby fingers have a hard time reaching them while maintaining a good grip on the steering wheel.
4) Low-Speed Lag
There is no reason to doubt Bentley’s claim that the Continental GTC Speed can do 0-60 mph in 4 seconds flat. At the same time, this car can’t entirely escape its Volkswagen roots. A couple times during my test drive, I experienced hints of a delay in low-speed throttle response when pulling away from a stop. Once that split-second passed, the car took off like a leather-wrapped cruise missile, but that’s one demon I wish were exorcised.
5) Infotainment Issues
This is my biggest problem with the Bentley. It’s not so much the layout; it’s the operation of the audio and phone controls that aren’t up to scratch. If you have a chance to take a closer look at the Bentley, you’ll notice a striking similarity between the Continental and, say, a Volkswagen Passat. The touchscreen the Bentley uses for audio and navigation functions is virtually identical, right down to its extremely slow operation. Tuning radio stations and entering navigation information is an exercise in tedium. It’s something I might be able to overlook on a $27,000 family sedan, but not an ultra-premium exotic costing 10 times as much.