The Bentley is the only adult-sized four-seat GT of our three, just as it’s the only truly lavish, luxurious, effortless long-distance tourer. What a cabin it has. Superbly comfortable, multi-adjustable seats sit in front of a fascia dripping in tactile, alluring brightwork and finished with a solidity of feel and a lavishness of equipment specification that make it the standout luxury operator by a country mile. Our test car’s 22in alloy wheels made for a slightly noisier motorway ride than I’d have preferred, but it’s only the remarkable refinement of the car in a wider sense that makes you aware of it.
The Bentley is so comfortable, accommodating and easy-going that you could, as a colleague put it, “just use it as if it was a Mk7 VW Golf R”. Of a £166,000, 2.2-tonne exotic, that’s quite a statement. To imagine owning and using one is absurdly easy; and the simple enrichment of the everyday that you’d get from doing so would be something to savour.
The same tester, however, also said that while he enjoyed driving the Continental, he didn’t get much more out of doing so on a great Snowdonian mountain road than he would have expected of the aforementioned VW hot hatchback. Interesting observation, that, with more than a grain of truth in it. The Continental is a pleasing, woofling, thrusty thing when it really gets going, with quite supreme and genteel drivability. The finesse you feel through the weighty, perfectly paced steering is striking, and it makes a big car surprisingly easy to guide.
But the Bentley is a big, heavy car that often spreads itself across more than its share of a twisty road. It can be enjoyed at speed up to a point, absolutely; especially where the lanes are wide and the corners fast flowing. But it’s still not a car to be hustled or threaded along like either the Ferrari or Aston Martin can be. It simply doesn’t have their dynamic duality.
The DB11 is a car for hustling, while we’re on the topic, and the Roma is more for threading. The Aston’s got much more traditional GT dynamic flavour about it. Even in AMR performance-tuned form, it’s supple and a little soft around the edges. It dips an outside shoulder and takes a split-second to respond as it turns like a back-row forward attacking the defensive line, and it squats and springs just a little underneath you as the road dips and rises.