Review: 2022 Bentley Continental GT Mulliner
My last article drew a connection between a newly acquired Ferrari 458 Spider and God. Specifically, His decision to smite my hamstring immediately after purchase (for sins past, present and, for all I know, future). Be that as it may, I no longer fear God’s ultimate judgment. For I have driven the Mulliner spec Bentley Continental GT. Heaven can wait.
You’re forgiven if you were expecting a paean to the virtues of Crewe’s two-door. Not to worry. I will sing the Conti’s praises full throat, affirming its rep as the non-Rolls Royce pinnacle of automotive luxury. To that end, start with this: the Bentley Continental GT Mulliner’s Naim stereo is the ne plus ultra of automotive audio.
Lenny the Porsche Targa guy recently sat me down in his $150k above-garage listening room. Little Feat’s seminal song Fat Man in the Bathtub sounded clearer than Israeli supermodel Michal Idan’s complexion. The same song cranked up in the Bentley Continental GT Mulliner’s 650 watt, 10-channel, 10-speaker audio system was unadulterated aural sex. When Lowell George wailed “I hear you moan,” he was telling the truth, because I was positively transported.
If I’d kept the Mulliner for more than a month it would have spent most of its time parked in the garage in Joni Mitchell mode – a musical refuge from the road. Driving the Mulliner is such an anodyne experience moving it out of park seems, well, churlish. For those without access to a thesaurus, the Bentley could well be the world’s most boring car.
Road noise, what road noise? There are float tanks that allow more ambient sound than the Bentley’s boudoir. Double-glazed windows and enough sound deadening material to quash an ambulance’s siren seal you off from the outside world. And vice versa. If the original Alien involved this bug-eyed coupe the tagline would have been “In a Mulliner no one can hear you scream.”
That’s a bad thing? Yes! How do you know you’re driving a car – rather than say watching an 8k TV – if you don’t hear SOME road noise? Oh sure, the Bentley’s 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8 emits a basso profondo woofle when you dial-up sport and push the go-pedal. It’s about as dramatic as turning on the Jacuzzi in your $25m Malibu mansion – minus a posse of scantily clad Instagram influencers.
How could such a fast car – a whip with a top speed of 198mph that sashays to 60 in 3.9 seconds – be dull?
Thanks to the isolation chamber effect, full-on acceleration feels like you’re in an airliner approaching V3. Not a fighter. An airliner. At 100mph you feel like you could get out and push. I can easily imagine a passenger casually remarking “In a hurry are we? at 160mph. And not before.
Why would they be concerned? The VW Group designed and crafted the Mulliner’s sumptuous surrounds to induce a coma. The hand-stitched leather smells like the inside of a new Chanel bag. The diamond-milled center console is as beautiful as my daughter’s first smile. And the 12-way adjustable seats are more comfortable than a hypnotist’s reclining chair (ask me how I know).
The only real excitement arrives when you hit the switch that rotates the 12.3 inch infotainment screen to reveal three analogue gauges. Lap timer? Gorgeous as it is, a stopwatch presupposes that you’ll take the GT on a track. That’s like taking a Patek Philippe scuba diving. Not only does the 4773.01 pound car not like to be hustled, the Sport mode suspension crashes alarmingly. An alarm that says slow down and ask Siri to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
Just don’t try to connect your iPhone while steaming down the highway. With steering feel that’s only conspicuous by its absence, you’ll find yourself drifting into another lane, challenging lesser cars – and they’re all lesser – to provide lebensraum.
If there’s anything missing from the Mulliner – other than visceral driving pleasure – it’s a Bentley-branded microfiber cleaning cloth. The screen picks up fingerprints better than a forensic detective. Admittedly, it’s a small price to pay for such luxury – aside from a quarter million dollars.
It’s a shame. The Bentley Continental GT Mulliner looks like a driver’s car. If there’s another modern automobile whose sensuous curves and meticulous details promise performance with as much elegance as the Bentley, it comes from Maranello – and nowhere else. But comparing the GT to a Ferrari is like comparing a prize-winning Morgan horse to a Kentucky Derby contender.
The Talking Heads put it best: “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.” Assuming you stay in your lane, nothing bad ever happens in the Mulliner. For some, the top-spec V8 GT is Heaven on Earth. For me, the awareness of potential death and destruction while driving is a feature, not a bug. Am I alone in that? Hell if I know.