As much as I love to point and make jokes at the ridiculousness of a Bentley’s opulence, even I clammed up and enjoyed the car once I got to drive one. And let me tell you something: once you’re all good and wrapped up in that leather interior, nothing else that happens outside of the car matters to you in the slightest.
(Full disclosure: Breitling invited me out to San Diego to fly in a jet. It was terrific fun. They put me up, fed me and shuttled me around. And then also let me have an hour and a half alone with a special edition Bentley Continental GT Speed during sundown.)
Through a mutually beneficial partnership between Breitling and Bentley, there are now Breitlings embedded in Bentley dashboards and sometimes there are also Bentleys that are Breitling special editions.
This one, the—ahem—Continental GT Speed Breitling Jet Team Series, has by far and away the longest name I’ve seen on a car recently. It’s a regular Continental GT Speed but painted up without and leathered down within. And it costs around $300,000.
Mulliner, Bentley’s personal hair-and-makeup special projects division, created the CGTSBJTS back in 2015 and stopped short after only making seven of them. That’s because there are only seven jets on the Breitling Jet Team and there’s one car for each jet.
The exterior of the CGTSBJTS is painted to match the color scheme of the jet: silver, onyx and Breitling yellow, which is flashier in person than it is in pictures. And then you open up the huge and heavy doors, and hoo boy:
I hesitated for a second before climbing into it. On one hand, it looked like an extremely nice place to sit. On the other, I couldn’t remember the last time I had willingly flaunted something so garish.
Everything was wrapped in buttery leather (of course), but the black and yellow theme continued inside the car as well. Snaking up and down the seats, weaving through the stitching and wrapping around the shifter, it was like a person with a tact for symmetry and armed with a massive highlighter was set loose on the inside of this car.
On the glove compartment’s carbon fiber fascia was an etching of the car’s corresponding jet (No. 3, which is the jet I flew in. Coincidence? Who knows!) The number was also echoed on the aluminum door sill covers.
But besides all of that, the car is just a Bentley Continental GT Speed. Just.
Even though the Continental GT Speed is a coupe, you still sit quite high in the cabin, which was weird. I was higher above the ground than when I’m sitting in my Mercedes. And even though it is a coupe, it is a massive coupe. When you go to open the doors, they are heavy and yawn open, wantonly, until you make your entrance or exit and slam them shut again.
Following a Breitling spokeswoman’s suggestion, I took a right out of the Hotel del Coronado’s parking lot and headed south along the Silver Strand Boulevard, the sun hovering lazily in the sky, casting the shadows of palm trees long and far.
As you would expect, the Bentley was quiet on the road. Comfortable. The massive engine mounted in front of my kneecaps—the 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12—burbled along serenely as I drove, rather like how your butler would tacitly clear his throat while you worked in your study. Never intrusive, never disruptive. Just... there.
It gave off an odd feeling similar to novocaine. You know, that feeling after the dentist pulls back the needle and the strange numbness begins to spread and everything feels just a little bit delayed and sluggish.
Even when I mashed my foot into the velvety-carpeted floor and the magnificent eight-speed auto dropped gears like they were on fire and all 626 horsepower rumbled like a hungry bear—even then there wasn’t a sense of urgency to the beast. Top speed? An exorbitant 206 mph.
Don’t get me wrong: the Continental GT Speed felt like it had enough power to pull the moon along for a chariot ride if it fancied. But the acceleration had more of an elastic pulling quality to it, instead of a more violent pushing and kick-to-your-head feel. This had to be due to the turbo lag, the all-wheel-drive and the sheer weight of the car: all 5,100 pounds of executive lavishness must still obey the laws of inertia. It reminded me of a Mercedes-AMG S63, just with more of everything.
Nothing about this car flies below the radar. People walking on the sidewalks stared at it. Other drivers sharing the road with me stared at it. Bicyclists started at it. And then after they were done staring at it, they stared at me.
They were curious. Of course they were. Who was this girl driving the flashy Bentley with the yellow seats? What was she doing with it? Is she a tech millionaire? Did it belong to Daddy?
As far as I was concerned, that day, they could think whatever they goddamn wanted. I got to be a queen for two hours. They were outside of the Bentley, and as long as they were out there, what they thought didn’t matter.
I think that’s what driving or owning Bentley is all about. Performance, for the most part, takes a back seat when it comes to mind-boggling over-the-top luxury. Everything you could ostensibly touch in the cabin—all the buttons, dials, switches and leather—all feel like they are tooled from the highest quality materials. The resistance behind turning a knob feels just right, somehow. Is there an English engineer somewhere whose sole job is to determine the tension behind a button? I’ll bet there is.
The definition of “personal luxury coupe” is rewritten when you bring a Bentley into the equation because then the driving experience becomes more of a “personal vault.” Sure, all the surfaces are nice as can be, but make no mistake, little to nothing is getting in or out of the cabin without your permission. No noises or sounds, no smells, nothing. Especially not the opinions of the other people. The people not riding in the Bentley.
And so, magically and all of a sudden, the interior that would make a queen wasp spit with rage seems... okay, somehow. More than okay. It’s good and I’m fine with it and in fact, I’m kind of about it all of a sudden. How did that happen?
I think I drank the kool-aid.