THIS one goes out to all the publicity-shy lottery winners and other well-off wallflowers out there. If you want to enjoy your wealth with stealth, consider the Bentley Continental GT V8 S. Not one to draw attention to itself, the GT eschews that common vice of the supercar set, vulgarity, for the dignified elegance of Grace Kelly-era Hollywood.
Yet under those sophisticated lines beats the heart of a supercar, one that’s capable of covering the ground at far more than three miles a minute, yet can breeze past the masses on a busy city boulevard with barely a murmur. Swathed in, say, Onyx Black or Midnight Emerald paint, it slinks under the radar, leaving you free to waft around in opulence, the world oblivious to your presence.
Unless you choose to buy one the colour of a buttercup, that is, in which case crowds will emerge from thin air and everyone will want to be your new best friend.
Quite who is in the market for a bright yellow Bentley, I can’t be certain, but that’s what the people at Crewe sent Scotsman Motoring, so it’s time to put on our shades, pull our bunnets low across our brows, and find out what life is like in the high-visibility end of the high-income spectrum, while trying to avoid eye contact with the world outside our double-glazed windows.
The colour is new to the GT V8 S and, in keeping with the Princess Grace theme, it’s called Monaco Yellow. Now I’ve been to Monaco, but I don’t recall being overwhelmed by the yellowness of it all, so I suspect Bentley is having a laugh and, because the petrol budget won’t stretch to another fact-finding field trip to the Cote d’Azur, I’ve no way of proving my theory.
Instead of going south, I’ll point the GT’s nose north, in search of an empty corner of the Highlands for a photo call. The journey should give me time to forget the car’s shock-and-awe skin tone and instead focus on everything else that makes it special.
And special the V8 S most certainly is. If the regular V8 is a road-going executive jet, then the S adds afterburners. Bentley’s people have fiddled with the four-litre twin-turbo so that it develops a thumping 521bhp and 502lb ft. That’s knocking on the door of this car’s 12-cylinder bigger brothers, but with meaningful improvements in fuel economy and range between fill-ups. Fewer visits to forecourts means less time fielding questions from just about everybody within a 400-yard radius of the petrol station.
Slip the eight-speed gearbox into S mode and it will let the revs build just that little bit longer before snapping into the next gear. Or click the lever across to the left to take manual control of the gears. With practice, you’ll bring up 60mph on the speedo in 4.3 seconds.
Top speed is 192mph, but that’s of no consequence heading north from Callander. The A84 rises, falls and squirms along the shores of Loch Lubnaig, but the Bentley clings like a leech, its four-wheel drive system and 10mm drop in ride height combining to great effect. It’s so nimble, you’d scarcely believe it’s a two-and-a-half tonne car. The mountain of torque comes on tap from just 1,700rpm, making overtaking a safer bet on short stretches of straight road.
Outside tourist season, Tyndrum is home to a handful of people and a petrol pump. During it, it’s a seething mass of souvenir-and-toilet-seeking tourists. A convoy of Ferraris is darting through but a thousand pairs of eyes are on the buttery blob hoving into view from over Crianlarich way. With so many people and so little chance of finding a quiet spot to stop for pictures, I press on with a volley of artillery fire from the sports exhaust. It’s an option, but you’d be nuts not to stump up the extra £1,860 for the sonic thrills it provides. Boom, growl, crackle and so forth.
The V8 S’s ride is firmer than you might expect from a Bentley, but even with the air springs and adjustable dampers at their stiffest setting, the car does a smashing job of pummelling road imperfections into submission.
Beyond Bridge of Orchy, the road rises onto the shoulder of Rannoch Moor. Gazing up from the bottom of the hill, I can see that the car park above Loch Tulla – a fine spot for a photo – is deserted. A couple of corners and a steady climb later, and a coachload of tourists has pulled in, right beside the motorhome that wasn’t there two minutes ago. Gah!
Still, the parking space with the best views across to the mountains is unoccupied, so I nip in. Cameras that were focused on faraway hills are now pointed at the fancy yellow car as it cools down in the corner. At least let me step clear of the leather-rich cabin (replete with £1,400-worth of optional yellow stitching to spiff up the black hide) before you start pressing your shutter buttons.
Click-click-click. More tourists have turned up, and they certainly aren’t backward at coming forward to have their photos taken with the Bentley, which sparkles in a mid-afternoon Highland haze. The V8 S is equipped with 20-inch wheels as standard, but the 21-inch seven-spoke rims fitted to our charge are as breathtaking as the £3,285 you’ll pay to own them. Then again, if you’ve just forked out £10,405 for carbon ceramic brakes, you won’t mind spending a little more to show them off.
After a 20-minute wait for the sightseers to move on, I snap a couple of photos and return home. I’m struck by the thought that a car I feared would bring out the worst in people for daring to be brash has, in fact, raised a smile wherever it’s gone. Does all the world love a Bentley regardless of the colour of its skin? On this evidence, yes. Still feels like I’m charging around in a high-powered goldfish bowl, though.
So, what would you do if your lottery numbers came up? Here’s an idea: help yourself to two. A black one for incognito trips to town, and a bright yellow one for weekend trips to the middle of nowhere. Just don’t expect to be left alone for long.
PRICE £139,000 (£181,255 as tested)
ENGINE 4l, 8 cyl, petrol, turbocharged, 521 bhp, 502 lb ft
PERFORMANCE Max speed 192mph; 0-60mph 4.3sec
CO2 EMISSIONS 246g/km