Upping the ante Featured

7:00pm EDT February 23, 2005

When Bentley’s Continental GT debuted last year as the luxury automaker’s “entry-level” coupe, the fastest and sexiest Bentley ever was the hottest car on the market. It quickly sold out of its first-year production run, leaving such luminaries as addled rocker Ozzy Osbourne scrambling to buy one.

Even as dealers continue to talk of getting premiums on the new 2005 model, Volkswagen-owned Bentley is raising the stakes with a super-luxe treatment from its Mulliner custom coachwork division.

The new Mulliner Driving Specification package — which Bentley says was driven by customer demand for a sportier look — includes 20-inch, two-piece alloy sports wheels; sportier treatments inside; indented hide for the roof headlining; diamond-quilted hides for the seats, doors and rear quarter panels; and a choice of piano black or dark-stained burr walnut veneer.

The Continental GT lists at $155,990; the Mulliner treatment adds a mere $11,000. Here’s a quick look at what else you get with the Continental GT.

Based on the VW Phaeton’s steel platform, the Continental weighs in at a hefty 5,358 pounds. Atop that frame sits a Bentley body like no other: a beautifully aerodynamic two-door that is thoroughly modern though retains Bentley styling cues from decades past. One look and you know wht they say you ride in a Rolls, but you drive a Bentley. This car screams, “Drive me!”

If the exterior has you fooled, just slip inside and you will know you are in a Bentley. With the Mulliner Driving Specification, the cockpit now features drilled alloy sport pedals and a new gear level featuring a Bentley-logo knob and aluminum surround. Exquisite leather also gets the full winged logo treatment, as well as the classic Bentley diamond-quilted hides found in the Arnage T.

The 6-liter, twin-turbo W-12 produces an impessive 551 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 479 pound-feet of torque at a mere 1,600 rpm, more than enough to compensate for the car’s heft. If you want Ferrari-like acceleration look elsewhere; but if 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 198 mph is sufficient, then the Continental will get you where you need to be on time.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.bentleymotors.com