Queen Elizabeth has a Bentley, too, but she doesn't drive hers till her hat blows off the way I did.
Vital StatsBase price: $195,125
This car’s price: $231,535 (prices include $2,725 destination charge and $1,000 gas guzzler tax)
EPA fuel economy: 14 mpg city/24 mpg highway (with twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 engine that makes 500 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque, plus eight-speed ZF transmission with shift paddles)
Safety features: This Bentley has unusual safety items such as aquaplane detection and drag torque control, along with the safety amenities you’d expect such as a rollover protection system, electronic stability control, and traction control; adaptive cruise control and a rearview camera are part of a $3,810 Convenience package
Tech features: Twin figure-eight tailpipes, wind deflector ($535), power trunk ($920), seat ventilation and massage ($840), neck warmer ($980), Naim for Bentley premium audio system with CD changer ($7,155)
Style features: Cross stitching on interior ($3,540), veneered door and rear quarter inserts ($1,110), embroidered Bentley emblems on headrests ($610), crafted veneer case in center console ($560), carpet in trunk that matches interior carpet ($535), duo-tone hide-trimmed steering wheel ($430), deep pile carpet overmats in front and back ($390), jeweled fuel filler cap ($255)
Chief competitors: Since this isn’t like shopping for a Toyota Camry, where every penny counts, here’s a fun competitor list:
• 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante (base price $300,820, including destination charge and gas guzzler tax), on sale in early 2014
• 2013 McLaren MP4-12C Spider (base price $268,250 including destination charge; no gas guzzler tax)
Key Points• There is a Celebrity Cars Blog that tracks what the stars are driving. It frequently shows the famous filling up their vehicles in Hollywood. Among those shown with their Bentleys: David Beckham, Sylvester Stallone, Ludacris, and Lisa Vanderpump from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
• On a classier level, the Bentley has long been the ride of queens. Queen Elizabeth II, who is celebrating her sixtieth year on the throne, has a state Bentley estimated by the voracious British media to be worth more than $15 million. It was a gift from the automaker on the occasion of Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee, in 2002. Curiously, that car stalled this January as the queen was leaving a church service at Sandringham.
• It’s not unusual for this to be a chauffeur-driven vehicle.
• The elephant in the room with the Bentley? The V-8. An exclusive British car like the Bentley typically comes with twelve cylinders.
• You could argue that the V-8 is a more respectable choice. For one thing, it doesn’t squander as much fuel: 14/24 mpg is decent for a luxury convertible, even if the Continental doesn’t escape the gas guzzler tax. Plus, it saves the customer probably close to $20,000 to choose a Bentley with a V-8 as opposed to a W-12.
• Power is not an issue: Bentley says the V-8 engine sprints from 0 to 60 mph in less than five seconds and has a top speed of more than 180 mph.
• Huge amounts of optional creature comforts are on board, including massaging front seats, wonderful deep pile carpeted floor mats, and embroidered Bentley headrests. In fact, there are sixteen options or packages on the Bentley I drove, which added up to $36,410 over the base price of the car.
• The super rich can go beyond even these substantial option choices and create a one-of-a-kind Bentley Continental GTC. Have a favorite lipstick or handbag? All you have to do is let the Bentley artisans borrow it to create a custom exterior shade to match.