Bentley Brooklands

13 Feb, 2008 5:49am Ross Pinnock

Range-topping Bentley aims to be the best coupe in the world.

Verdict

5
New Bentleys don’t come along very often. They are, however, usually worth the wait – and the Brooklands is no exception. It looks sensational, and despite its huge proportions, performance is incredible. What’s more, the handling is superb. Inside, the cabin is fabulous, and there isn’t a car on the planet that can match its opulence. A limited run of only 550 units promises to make it one of the most exclusive models that money can buy.

Meet the ultimate Bentley. With a price tag of £230,000 and more torque than any production car on sale, the Brooklands is a flagship in the true tradition of the Crewe-based company. But is this the most desirable coupé money can buy?

Measuring a daunting 5.4 metres long, it certainly has road presence. The twin headlamps and mesh grille empty the outside lane of the motorway like nothing else, and its sweeping roofline, long rear overhang and big wheels hark back to Bentleys of the past. More modern touches include the striking pair of tailpipes poking out the back, and jewel-style filler cap.

Once you’ve taken in the beautiful exterior, it’s time to grasp the chunky metal door handle and climb aboard. Buyers can choose from a bewildering array of luxurious interior options, with more than 103 billion – yes, billion! – possible colour and trim combinations available.

The cabin is a sea of wood and leather highlighted with shiny metal inserts, while a knurled alloy shift lever for the six-speed automatic gearbox dominates the centre console.

Passengers travelling in the back won’t be left feeling short-changed, either. Thanks to a pair of electrically adjustable seats, the British manufacturer claims that the Brooklands has the most spacious rear cabin of any coupé on the market.

The sense of occasion is amplified when you fire up the monstrous twin turbocharged engine. Bentley’s 6.75-litre V8 powerplant can trace its roots back half a century, but the latest revisions have liberated an extra 30bhp, so the new Brooklands pumps out 530bhp and a massive 1,050Nm of torque.

On the road, it takes time to get used to the car’s huge proportions. But once you do, the phenomenal powerplant makes short work of the bulky 2,655kg kerbweight. It blasts the newcomer from 0-60mph in only five seconds. Yet the bare figures tell only half the story, as the bellowing engine and gasping turbos add to the drama. Prod the throttle at any speed, and the nose rises as a wave of torque is unleashed and the big Bentley surges forward.

The coupé is based on the firm’s Azure platform, but the drop-top’s extra strengthening has been left in place, so the pillarless Brooklands body is remarkably stiff. Ride comfort is as impressive as you’d expect, the handling is also excellent and it has plenty of grip. Attack a series of bends with commitment, however, and you can’t escape its huge weight – the body takes a little time to react to the quick steering.

While the Sports suspension setting does firm the dampers up, it compromises ride comfort. It’s therefore much more fun to waft along and make use of the huge reserves of power to blast past slower traffic.

With such potent performance, strong brakes are vital, and the manufacturer’s excellent carbon brake discs are the biggest fitted to any road car – although they carry a whopping £19,650 premium. That’s a surprise, given that the £230,000 Brooklands already costs as much as a decent three-bedroom house.

Critics will also point the finger at its fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, which are both predictably dire. However, Bentley will build only 550 examples, so you could argue that its environmental impact is actually quite limited. What’s more, the whole carbon footprint issue doesn’t seem to have put off customers – 500 have been sold already. Proof that the Brooklands is indeed the most desirable coupé in the world.

Key specs

* Price: £230,000
* Engine: 6.75-litre V8, 530bhp
* Torque: 1,050Nm
* Transmission: Six-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
* 0-60mph: 5.0 seconds
* Top speed: 184mph
* Economy: 14.5mpg
* CO2: 465g/km
* Standard equipment: Full leather upholstery, stainless-steel exterior trim, sat-nav, Xenon headlamps, 20-inch alloy wheels.

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