A summer cold during the week of a Bentley convertible loan is not a good thing but it has saved me a small fortune.
Why? Well, the Speed’s 626bhp engine is massively thirsty, that’s why. Even when I try to drive at a sedate ‘Bentley-style’ pace the petrol gauge needle seems to be pulled relentlessly to the left.
Had I not been tucked up in bed with a box of tissues, I’m certain I could have burnt my way through a few hundred pounds keeping the Speed on the road. I’m averaging well under 20mpg.
And I know people who can afford £200K plus for a car aren’t bothered by fuel bills but I wonder if these big engined monsters are going to be consigned to the motoring history books before too long..
May 28 Fascinating how two fast and expensive British cars can polarise people. Last week’s Morgan Plus 8 is every bit as thirsty and environmentally unfriendly as today’s Bentley Speed.
Yet on the road, other drivers perceive the retro Morgan as a throwback to the glory days of motoring – when flat caps and goggles were the norm. They loved the old school shape and many waved as we passed.
The Bentley is the complete opposite. It may be manufactured in England too but drivers are induced into a road rage, serving up looks of contempt and pure loathing.
I suppose they automatically assume that I’m minted – and we all know how the Brits like to knock a success story. Of course, I’m not loaded but living with the GTC Speed would seriously hack me off if I had to deal with this every day.
The consolation for Bentley owners is that the Speed feel wonderful on the sumptuous inside, which is where it really counts I suppose.
I can’t help thinking that incredible supercars like the Bentley GT Speed will soon be a distant memory. When I’m talking nonsense in a nursing home in 50 years time, staff will laugh at my memories of a ‘personal transportation device’ averaging 19mpg, costing £200k and sounding like a spaceship on lift off.
By then we will all be moved from A to B in pods. Driving a vehicle will be something from the history – what families go to watch at Bank Holiday Weekend track events around Silverstone and Brands Hatch.
The roar of a 12-cylinder engine will probably frighten children and remind grandad of when everybody owned a car, locked in a little house next to their home that was called a garage.
There isn’t an awful lot of time left to enjoy incredible cars like the GT Speed. The price puts it was beyond reach of the average man in the street but we should at least marvel at vehicles like this while we have them.
Times are changing, probably for the better but fans o the combustion engine need to enjoy it while they can…
My dog only growls at two vehicles – the local farmer’s tractor and the arrival of a Bentley GT Speed. The fastest GT money can be chucked at has a sensational roar in Sport mode.
The W12 engine even outperforms last week’s Morgan Plus 8 for naughty acoustics in the high street. It takes guttural gurgling to new levels and is seriously sexy.
Of course, it pumps out huge amounts of pollutant from those tailpipes too – 338g/km to be exact. Some might consider that V12 turbo something of a dinosaur but hell, does it sound good.
The cheaper V8 S model might be regarded as a better all-rounder and substantially more efficient but for balls out bravado, well, driving a Speed is like turning a victory roll over the CO’s control tower, full throttle in a Spitfire.
Over and out
May 25 I can’t tell you the Morgan Plus 8 is value for money, or the fastest two-seater on the road for circa £90,000. It’s also ridiculously noisy at motorways speeds, leaks worse than the Labour Party and is a bugger to access, even with the roof down.
And yet after almost 1,000 miles of driving around Ireland, I can’t honestly think of a car that has given me so much pleasure, including any Porsche 911, Ferrari, Lambo or Aston.
If this sounds like a rather rash statement, you might want to consider what you want from a sports car. Is it a machine that cossets you in driver aids and help you clock 60mph in 0.1 of a second faster than the bloke’s car parked next to you?
Or would you like a machine that truly tests your driving skills, demands respect but will reward driver input by the bucketload?
All I can tell you after testing cars for 30 years is that the Plus 8 is, without doubt, one of the best cars I have ever driven…
‘It’s a kit car, right?’ Don’t you just love Americans… They assume because something is old and interesting, it can’t possibly be manufactured in a conventional way with spanners, tools and scuffed knuckles.
I’m in the car park at Ashford Castle, Cong. Ireland’s top country hotel was the location for the 1952 movie The Quiet Man. John Wayne’s bedroom was just down the hall from mine, and Ted Kennedy below.
So once I’ve informed the ‘noisy’ man that it isn’t a kit car and was actually hand-built by men in England, he’s even more impressed. I should forgive him because right now, Morgans aren’t sold in the US. It’s all to do with health and safety and will, hopefully, be resolved later this year after a change in federal law.
But the Yank likes the car, even though he’s convinced the roar from those four tailpipes comes from a V12. He especially likes the leather interior which, in truth, squeaks and rattles like hell on the road.
And the roads here are some of the best in the world for squeaky driving. The route from Westport to Cong is, well, ‘awesome’. Drive it now in a Morgan, before cars start thinking entirely for themselves…
May 22 There are cars that rub people up the wrong way. Count in that pack every BMW X5 ever built, the vehicle with a pointless personalised number plate, and any car with a Porsche badge. I guarantee it – nobody will let you out at a junction.
Morgan isn’t included. Everybody loves the little two seater – perhaps because it looks as if it comes from the pages of Wind In The Willows. Yes, I’ve become Mr Toad in tweed and goggles, parp-parp.
Well, no goggles actually but they would be useful. And the great thing about the Plus 8 is that nobody seems to realise it has a 4.8-litre monster under the bonnet. Let alone one built by BMW.
So my tour of Ireland has got off to a sound start. My lower back is suffering from the hard seats, my sat-nav has packed up (possibly the vibrations through the windscreen!) and it’s pointless turning on the Alpine stereo.
The only thing to do is drop the hood, don a silly hat and drive like Mr Toad…