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Roadshow Video Reviews
2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S ConvertibleWhat's behind the letter S? CNET's Brian Cooley takes this Bentley with a twin-turbo V-8 engine out for a test drive to find out.
[NOISE] [MUSIC] Buick made a car called the Riviera, but Bentley kind of is the Riviera. Let's take a ride in a car with as much class as it has sass. Because it's an S model, the Bentley Continental GT Convertible V8 S. And check the tech. [MUSIC] What makes this car an S versus the standard GT Continental with a drop top? S starts with more power, we'll take a look at that under the hood in a moment. Look at the subtle body kit around the chin and around the lower side of the vehicle, not too extreme but that's different. You've also got a sport suspension, sports calibrated steering wheel, we'll try it on the road in a minute. And a 10 mm lower ride height, just barely. It's also got some really hot looking 20 inch open spoke wheels. These I'm afraid, are not them. This is another option of wheel that is a little bit more Miami Beach than Compdon Tail. Oh, do I talk now? [LAUGH] I can just sit here all day. Sleep, have a nice [UNKNOWN]. This is a fantastic place to spend time. Oh, nice to drive too, but I'd be happy in it just sitting in front of my house doing my work. It's a beautiful living room in this car, and I don't use that term ridiculously. It is comfortable, spacious, nicely appointed. Bentley does that with exceptional taste. The technology is not quite so cutting edge. Good, but there's nothing that's going to be telling you about the cutting edge of where the industry is going. You've got kinda your usual stuff. Your radio settings are here with satellite AM, FM. Your media choices include an optical disk. You've got 50 gigabytes of hard drive space, that no one really cares about. So all this stuff you're looking at here is kind of something you coulda seen in one of my videos three or four years ago. Nothing cutting edge, but notice how big everything is and clear. I give Bentley kudos on that. They have a unique proprietary interface here that is impossible to mis-touch. All the zones and buttons are nice and big and that's important in a car. They've also done a pretty good job of making it look like the car. Not every car maker does that. The type faces are actually common between the gauges and the LCD. I can't tell you how many car makers drop the ball on that one. What you won't find anywhere in here is any kind of connected services, no app support. This is a few years back. Now, I don't normally talk about audio systems. Eh, you know, they all sound pretty good these days. I stopped picking them apart a couple years ago, but this one I'm gonna talk about. This is what they call Naim audio for Bentley. Naim is a high-end British audio maker that Bentley's got an exclusive with. Lots of great amps and DSP and all that. But the key thing is over there in the door. That speaker looks normal, but behind that grill is something flat like a pancake. It's called a balance mode radiator. It moves on a piston electromagnetically like a speaker for good base, but being flat it doesn't aim the high frequencies like a laser shot, so they tend to disperse over the cabin. This is a great sounding sound system, coming from someone who is not that impressed that often. Now, last thing i want to talk about is drive control technology. Your shifter is pretty traditional, beautiful but traditional. P, R, N, D and in sport take it to the right for the shift engage. You can also shift up here on the paddles, but they are missing half the paddle, they have cut off the bottom half. I don't get the logic of this, because most drivers are down here, on the bottom hemisphere of their wheel these days. Nothing to reach for, you can't get a shift, until you go back, to old school ten and two, like you were taught in high school. And finally you got a suspension button here, this little shock absorber icon, press that, and you get to a screen, that has four touch screen, ride control settings. But why is it, a two step dance to get there? Just give me a knob, some comfort, to sport. That's bad interface. Before we head to the engine bay, just take a note of all the stuff here that's kind of real and in many cases metal. This is a nice cold metal shifter, these are metal organ poles to open and close these vents around the car. Quilted leather up here and the coupe de grace, or coupe de stupid is this. Perhaps the most beautifully rendered sunglass case in all of autodom. This tells you what kind of folks buy Bentley's, they spend a lot of money on their fashion eyewear. I want a nice place to put it. Now under the front of the Bentley you're gonna find an old friend of ours. You watched our video on the Audi RS7 you might recognize the top of this engine. Unusual architecture, the turbos and the exhaust manifold apparatus are on top inside the V cylinder valley. Intakes are on the outside kind of under. This is the four litre twin turbo motor of the VW Audi, Bentley family and it's heck of an engine. Some numbers 521 horse. That's 21 more than a non s car. 501 foot pounds of torque, that's 15 foot pounds more. Zero to 60 in 4.5, only about 0.2 seconds faster than a non S car. But we'll see how it really translates on the road. And that's really impressive considering this car is a beast. 5,400 pound plus before you and your friends get in. All-wheel drive, by the way, with a 40-60 front-rear split, that eight-speed automatic's your only choice that we saw. The MPG is not actually bad. 14-24, but it still gets hit with a gas guzzler tax of a grand, not much on a car of this price. The nice thing about the S car is that it actually adds just enough of an extra edge in terms of the way it operates in sport mode. This car isn't this big, ponderous beast. You look at this vehicle, it's got a lot of mass, a lot of physical presence, it's the color of a beluga whale, I mean, it has all kinds of external cues that say, wow, what a big, pudgy ride that is. But it's not. It's fairly sharp while being utterly comfortable. In sport mode three things primarily take place. You are going to get sharper shifts, you are going to hold RPMs longer in automatic mode and you are going to get more aggressive tip in on the throttle, and you get this great sound out of the sport exhaust which is optional but wow does it sound good, not overly obnoxious. Good and ballsy, but still with an elegance to it that befits the car. I love listening to this ride. Let's listen to Bentley's Concerto in E minor. [LAUGH] First movement is pretty good. The adapted suspension, as I mentioned, follows a different set of controls than the power-train sport mode. It doesn't make a huge difference, this car never gets a hard, really gutsy ride. It stays comfortable and luxurious at all times, but it does seem to level out body roll just a bit. It's an adaptive air suspension, so it's got that ability rather innately. And when it's not doing sport duty, it's doing excellent road modulation duty. This is one of the most comfortable, well-damped luxury car rides out there. Not flabby. But not a bit of harsh annoyance comes through. The big man can dance. I gotta tell ya. I don't mind taking this car through corners. It likes it. So do I. [MUSIC] Okay let's price our big beautiful friend here. Starting at about 220 for a S convertible. And that by the way includes, a gas guzzler tax and a very stout destination charge of almost 2800 bucks. After that, interestingly, the option that appealed to me are kind of cheap. The most expensive is the optional sport exhaust. It sounds great and is about 2500 bucks, which is way less than the destination charge. Neck warmer technology, great for a convertible, just over a grand. A power trunk? I mean, come on. Under $1000. And massage and ventilation of the front seats is only 900 bucks more. These prices are nothing compared to base prices they're being added to. I'm a little puzzled by it. All in about 225 CNET style. Not a ton of tech options you can add to this vehicle as you can see. [MUSIC]