The auto industry thrives on newness. Virtual cockpits, self-driving cars, and dashboards that resemble Ipads are just a few items that are subsequently turning automobiles into fast moving portable phones. So a grand touring luxury cruiser like the Bentley Continental GT is a throwback. It recalls era when flying was glamorous, Sunday drives were a weekly ritual, and greed was good. I’ve always had a soft (quilted leather) spot for Bentley and jumped at the opportunity when they offered to have me spend a week with their new Continental GT. At a price tag north of $200,000, the Bentley isn’t for everyone nor is it intended to be.
I stepped out of the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills and was greeted by an enthusiastic valet who handed me a key fob that could easily be mistaken for an expensive piece of jewelry. Rather than wait, the valet had the car parked in front of the hotel among a small company of other ultra luxury cars. In valet parking world, this is considered to be prime real estate. The elegant, understated, and timeless design doesn’t scream "drive me” like the Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s or Aston’s but quietly asks you to join its ranks by invitation only. Despite its decade old design, the Bentley has aged thanks to recent nips and tucks on the front and rear along with a array of gorgeous wheel designs. But with Bentley it’s the inside that counts. The hand-crafted interior is among the industry’s finest. Leather everything is the norm in the cabins of these luxury yachts and the GT doesn't disappoint by boasting fine leather contrast-stitched seats, real wood and aluminum and a mix of buttons luxurious to the touch.
After sliding into the driver’s seat, I revved up the 500hp twin turbo V8 engine and headed out to do what all Angelenos do in the afternoon: get coffee and juice. The Bentley cossets you, but move it into Sport mode, and it asks to be driven. This is a GT car after all. Feedback from the heavy steering is great for a two-ton car though maneuvering through parking lots can be laborious given the car’s heft and turning capacity. But Bentley owners will seldom worry about parking especially as valet parking is de rigueur when you own a car of this ilk. With standard "park assist” by a valet, it looks like Bentley was always at the forefront of new technology.