2001 Bentley R-Type
Bill stepped back from the curb, stunned by the huge Bentley that glowered in the twilight. He spread his arms, palms down, and exclaimed: "This is the Green Hornet car!" Bill nailed it. The Bentley Continental R420 is pure fantasy, an automobile that transcends extravagant, and an over-the-top heavyweight in every sense imaginable. In appearance, performance, heritage and bottom line, the R420 is as far removed from most people's realities as a trip to the moon. The $328,000 price tag takes care of that nicely. R420, a special Continental R model, is a limited-production steed even in Bentley terms. Only 18 of them will be built. I had No. 2, according to a brass plaque affixed to the walnut dash. It's a fine combination of vintage and modern elements, from the old-style analog gauges to the turbocharged V-8. The classic-coupe body bulges with muscle. The R420 also expands Bentley's role as the performance leader of the British country-club set with a racing heritage that goes back to the early days of automobiles. Those were big, brawny cars that regularly roared into the record books. The R420 is the latest to boost Bentley's performance claims. Here is nearly three tons of automobile that launches like a rocket, thanks to the turbocharged V-8, which puts out 400 horsepower. But more importantly, an engine that makes 616 pounds-feet of torque. That's right, 616. No wonder this behemoth will sprint off the line like a Corvette and roar up to highly illegal territory in just moments. Bentley says it hits 60 in just over 6 seconds. Top speed is in the 150 mph range. The whole driving effect is other-worldly. Here you are, encased in this splendid giant, inhaling the scent of fine leather and wood, gripping a thick-rimmed steering wheel and shooting this thing through the turns. Or just nuzzling the accelerator and sprinting away from traffic. Everything is so special about this craft. Just getting in and starting it: The key is on the left, LeMans racing style. You click it to "on," then push a big red starter button in the dash. It's a strangely thrilling sensation. The huge V-8 settles into a subdued rumble. Then you hit the gas and hear that distant throaty howl, accompanied by the insistent whir of the big Garrett turbocharger. All good stuff. This is a magical car to drive. Besides that awesome acceleration is the surprisingly nimble handling. It's easy to forget you're driving a car that weighs as much as a Suburban when you throw it into a curve, and it responds like the European thoroughbred that it is. This is a far cry from the boxy handling of the Roll-Royce Corniche I drove a few months back. Shod with enormous 18-inch alloy rims and performance tires, the Bentley grips like a cat. The brakes are just as powerful as the engine, as well they should be. But aside from a ll that sound and fury, in normal driving the R420 is docile and easy to handle, once you get used to its size. The ride is a bit stiff, as befitting a performance craft, but its heft and long wheelbase tend to smooth out things nicely. The interior of this hand-built car is, of course, wonderfully comfortable and accommodating, in that odd sort of British men's club style. Once I got used to piloting a car that costs as much as a nice house, amid all that luxury and performance, I was reminded time and again that at its essence this is just another car. You get stuck in traffic, wait for red lights, avoid potholes, all the usual stuff. And stop for gas, too. Despite the fantasy, the real world still intrudes.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Rick Popely||Cars.com National||April 20, 2001|
|Bob Golfen||AZCentral.com||March 31, 2001|
Closest Dealers Listing this Car
Featured Services for the Bentley R-Type
- Sell your current car quickly and easily on Cars.com.
*Invoice prices are made available by Cars.com and are not dealer advertising. All prices are subject to regional variations. Prices last updated 9/23/10. Click here for more information.