If you look at the specs for today’s Nice Price or No Dice Bentley you might think they are eerily similar to that of the contemporary VW Phaeton. You’d be right since both cars are kissing cousins under the skin. Let’s see if the Bentley name, and better looks, can overcome that association.
There’s something warm and comforting about slipping on a favorite pair of old jeans. It’s in the weight of the denim, the way the creases take on your shape, and the overall feel when you slide them on. It’s rare to find an automotive equivalent to that old pair of worn-in jeans because cars don’t tend to get more comfortable as they wear, they just get rattier.
Yesterday’s 1998 Pontiac Firebird convertible was worn in places, most notably around the edges and on the back window. Few of you found that look to be comforting, and fewer still got all that excited about the car’s somewhat lackluster V6 and automatic drivetrain. All that discomfort led to not much want, and even at a mere $4,999, the Firebird fell from the sky in a narrow but decisive 58 percent No Dice loss.
Look, if we want to feel as comfortable in a car as we do in that old pair of favorite jeans, then we’re going to have to go to the experts in automotive luxury and comfort. Yep, today we’re looking at a Bentley.
At one time owned by Rolls Royce, the 101-year old Bentley brand has, since 1998, been part of the Volkswagen Group. That has opened the marque up to a vast array of resources and parts, the availability of which has elevated the production and modernity of most of its models. Of course, that has come at the cost of having those models feel a little less special with some of the VW parts being glaringly obvious in their origin. If you can get over that, however, the VW-era Bentleys have a lot to offer.
This 2007 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is a good example. The model followed the wildly successful Continental GT to market and, at its most basic, is a four-door saloon version of the GT coupe. Well, actually it’s a VW Phaeton under the skin since both Bentley models share underpants with the fanciest of all Volkswagens.
For whatever reason, we all tend to love the glorious failure that was the VW Phaeton, especially in its top-of-the-line W12 guise. Maybe it was the underdog ethos embodied by the model. Suffice to say, few Phaeton fans probably give the Flying Spur a second glance despite it being another riff on the same tune.
What we have here is a luxury four-door with plenty of room for five and gorgeous appointments throughout. Unlike the Phaeton’s severely rectilinear cabin design and hidden HVAC outlets, the Bentley goes old school with a double-hooded dash panel and chromed eyeball vents. The VW bits that are most noticeable here include the window switches, steering wheel, and that plasticky-looking shifter surround.
It’s not to say that anything in this 100,000-mile Continental looks bad, you’re just reminded of its origins every time you slide inside. Speaking of the insides, this car has those full-well floor mats you see advertised on social media but never actually figure anyone ever buys. The owner of this Bentley actually did and one would expect the car’s factory flooring to be in good shape underneath as a result.
There’s a lot more VW stuff under the Bentley’s bonnet. There you find the German company’s W12 engine, which in the Continental’s case is fitted with two turbochargers making it good for 552 horsepower. Now, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the VW W12, but for those of you who are not, this isn’t an engine that actually looks like a “W.” There aren’t three banks of cylinders here. It is, in fact, a pair of VR6 engines conjoined at the crank and featuring that engine’s short length and its convoluted head design, just times two.
Behind the “doesn’t-look-like-a-W” 12 sits a ZF-sourced six-speed automatic and Torsen all-wheel-drive system. As equipped, the 5,456 pound Bentley can rocket from zero to sixty in just a tick over five seconds. As a trade-off, you’d have to put up with getting around 13 miles to the gallon of premium-grade dead dino juice.
There appear to be no obvious flaws in this Continental. The lavender paint may not be to everyone’s taste, but it certainly stands out. That’s accented by chrome-plated factory seven-spoke wheels and Bentley’s iconic waffle-mesh grille. The ad describes the car as being in “beautiful condition inside and out” and having been “garage kept all its life.” The title is clean and the seller claims it to drive “like a dream.”
What does all this luxury scattered with more plebeian VW bits cost? The asking is $22,500, or about what you might expect to pay for a new VW Jetta, which, nice as it is, doesn’t offer anywhere near the panache nor the luxury. Ah, but does that make this far fancier Bentley a deal?
What’s your take on this Bentley and that $22,500 asking? Does that make this car a luxury deal? Or, does age and those VW bits make that price feel somehow discomforting?
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