I don't like surprises. I want to know what I'm getting for Christmas, my birthday and what we are having for Easter Dinner. I already know what I want; therefore, a surprise is usually a disappointment. Usually.
The Bentley Continental GT on these pages shocked the hell out of me, an unexpected but wholly satisfying surprise. Wrapped in yards of gorgeous sheet metal, leather and gleaming chrome, the GT appeared as elegant as a British Lord at teatime, both mannerly and refined, the type of vehicle you take to a polo match or golf outing. The next moment, it exploded with the fury of a soccer hooligan about to take the World Cup. Its acceleration was so intense, the entire contents of my pack ended up wedged in the rear window.
Yes, the Bentley GT surprised me, primarily because I never viewed Bentleys as particularly fast cars. I knew they were powerful, but in more of a Mac Truck sort of context. I was wrong.
By now, everyone and their mother have waxed poetically about the Bentley GT. In short, every reviewer said the same basic things: it's fast and luxurious. I don't think they emphasized the "fast" part enough. Or maybe it was this particular car and its unique treatment. Although I spent all of two hours behind the wheel of this Axis-owned Bentley, it was enough to leave a lasting impression. This car performs with all the grace of an M5, has the acceleration of a Porsche Turbo and the high-speed stability of a Mercedes. In short, it's a stud in a three-piece suit.
Owner James Chen of Axis Wheels is no stranger to automotive exotic. Several years back, we featured his modified Ferrari 360 Modena, a car that no doubt had Enzo spinning in his grave at 8000 rpm. Though most people consider modifying high-end cars a sacrilege, there is a select group that wants more performance and singularity.
This Bentley was treated with 10x22-inch Axis Crewe wheels covered in a rich "Diamond Black" paint. The Pirelli rubber measures 295/25-22, and though they lack much sidewall, the car remains surprisingly comfortable. The crew GMG installed a lowering module that essentially makes the car think it's going 100 mph. At that speed the vehicle drops 1.5 inches closer to earth for that well-tucked autobahn stance.
GIAC boldly explored the Bentley's brain (actually dual brains, as the W12 engine is essentially a pair of narrow-angle six-cylinder motors). GIAC techs found substantially greater power under the hood: 80 more bhp and nearly 100 lb-ft of twist. GMG ensured this newfound power was completely realized and fabricated a sport exhaust (dual down pipes), upgraded diverter valves and performance air filters. If you were to saddle-up next to this car in a stock Continental GT, you'd be seeing its taillights after the first 50 feet, if you're into that sort of thing.
Certainly this treatment will appeal to a small minority of GT owners and that's just fine. Most Bentlians couldn't handle the surprise.
AXIS Wheels 2005 Bentley Continental GT
DrivetrainFront engine, all-wheel drive
Engine6.0-liter W12 (72, angle between two main banks, 15, between staggered cylinders) quad overhead cams, four valves per cylinderGMG diverter valves, GMG sport intake/exhaust, GIAC software
SuspensionGMG lowering module
Brakes15.9-inch ventilated front discs w/ TEVES 8-piston calipers,13.2-inch rear discs w/ 4-piston calipers
Wheels and TiresAxis Crewe, 10x22Pirelli P-Zero Rosso, 295/25-22
PerformancePeak Power: 664 bhp @ 5500 rpmPeak Torque: 594 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm0-60 mph: 4.3 sec.Top Speed: 204