Driven to Write’s star of the Frankfurt motor show may surprise you.
Since we founded Driven to Write three and a half years ago, (where has the time gone?) I think I’ve written almost nothing on the subject of Bentley – a glaring omission on my part and one for which I ought to make amends. There are a number of reasons for this Crewe-shaped hole in my DTW outpourings, but I suppose if I was pinned to a wall (or similar stout object) and forced to explain, I’d probably put it down to a combination of apathy and outright distaste.
Today’s photo then embodies something of a cop-out from the polemic I quite frankly couldn’t find the stomach to write. Instead, what I present to you is a car that takes a classic template and renders it banal. A car whose silhouette suggests a timeless elegance but presents it rendered in child’s crayon. A car that most likely gives even Gorden Wagener nightmares.
A car that eloquently represents everything I believe is wrong with contemporary automotive design.
13 thoughts on “Photo for Sunday : 2017 Bentley Continental”
Forgive me, I am confused. The implication up top is that this was your favourite car at Frankfurt, but by the end of the piece I suspected you didn’t like it. Am I being dim?
No, not at all SV. I suppose what I was trying to say is that the Continental is my car of the show because it serves to underline the laziness and vacuity of the large (mostly German) car giants. This car offends me on so many levels and I find the fact that most commentators seem to find it attractive beyond comprehension.
I probably I didn’t make that sufficiently clear in retrospect, but it made perfect sense at 1.30 Am after a couple of glasses of wine… hic.
Eoin: is there no sherry left in the DTW office?
It’s not that awful – rather it’s quite ordinary. There are cars costing a fraction of this that are more pleasant. I am available to prepare a study of what would make this car look special if anyone at VAG is reading. Industry rates apply.
Hmm. Not a very adventurous reincarnation. Front on, it’s not hugely different compared to the outgoing one. The new back end is a bit odd. Still, the current one’s good to drive as a long distance cruiser so if the new one is a bit lighter and more nimble, all well and good. Drove a GT Supersports recently – made a fabulous noise even at my steady(ish) pace.
What does a car maker do? A change can annoy the customer base and no change annoys most others. I’d expect Bentley to be cautious handling this goose.
The proportions are all wrong, on this and the earlier iteration. Call me conservative, but a classic GT needs classic long hood/short deck rwd proportions. Longer, lower, wider, with a stretched out wheelbase and a well planted four cornered stance. This looks like a VW Beetle stretched in all kinds of wrong directions.
I find it hilarious bordering on ludicrous VW still insists on the old DKW setup for engine configurations even on the Bentley. Talking about brand dna, this car shares more actual dna with the DKW 3=6 than it shares with the old Crewe built Bentleys. There’s one single uninterrupted line of similarily configured cars evolving in baby Step from the DKW through every generation of Audi to the Phaeton based Continentals. Vorsprung durch hanging the engine in front of the front wheels?
For me there is something wrong at the 0.1 to 2 mm level, in the joints of the panels. This car looks to be made precisely the same (good) was as a Mazda, Ford or Mercedes. None of these are bad and none of them say “special” in the way a 1995 Bentley said “special” in comparison to most other cars. About width: can we not say that the car is too damn wide? I know people will groan when I say the B-word but the Filton firm had it right (for bad reasons) in keeping their cars relatively narrow. That Lybra I was in might have been 10 cm narrower than any current C-D class car and it made it feel nimble and handy. I expect even a Bentley Arnage feels nimble compared to this runway-wide car. If I was Bentley I´d be doing detailed mock-ups of how to make a narrower car feel good to be in; not Cuore-narrow, just lop 8% off the width of this. I wouldn´t want one, even if I had the money. There´s nowhere it´s nice to drive in a car that is endlessly thwacking the side mirrors of parked cars.
I guess the “here I am, go out of my way” clientele of this sort of car wouldn’t like a narrow (i.e. reasonably wide) car.
My answer is that a Bentley could lose 8% of its width without anyone noticing. The graphics and proportions could be tweaked. I bet the current dimension received no active thought. I need to draw this, I suppose.
I don’t hate the new Continental. I just don’t think it’s up to the last decade’s Brooklands, my favourite Bentley of all time.
The production run reached 500 units over three years. I’d quite forgotten all about it. It was a coupe Arnage and as such was preposterously costly. The Conti, is by comparison, very common.
The Continental’s been around for thirteen years – the second generation arrived in 2011 but you’d hardly have noticed unless you wanted a Flying Spur.
Some (incomplete) production numbers – probably a statistician’s delight:
2015: 6213 Continental GT, 3660 Flying Spur
2014: 5593 Continental GT, 4556 Flying Spur
2013: 5799 Continental GT, 3960 Flying Spur
2012: 6174 Continental GT, 1764 Continental Flying Spur
2010: 2578 Continental GT, 1914 Continental Flying Spur
2009: 1933 Continental GT, 1358 Continental Flying Spur
2007: 6987 Continental GT, 2270 Continental Flying Spur
2006: 5353 Continental GT, 4042 Continental Flying Spur
2005: 4733 Continental GT, 4271 Continental Flying Spur
2004: 6896 Continental GT
The numbers certainly put DTW favourites like the Lancia Gamma and Fiat 130 in their place.
Even the closely related VW Phaeton only achieved a production of 84,253 in 14 years. Most of them were running around Wolfsburg when I last visited in June. I suspect VAG were handing them out as part of their retirement packages.