I had a ride in a black Bentley Continental for the first time, one of the few modern luxury barges I've admired. It was a huge let down from start to finish. I couldn't wait to get out and into a real car.
All that automobile and the interior is the size of pizza carton, almost the shame shape. The front seats are hard and uncomfortable, squab too low, the rear seats are a cruel tease. Getting into the rear requires limbo dancing or a contortionist's skills. I know coupes are meant to be cramped in the back as a trade off for externally elegant lines over the saloon, but it doesn't make sense in a car of that length. You feel you've entered the Tardis only to discover it is police box size after all.
In keeping with the trend for modern powerful cars, the side windows are correspondingly narrow; you sit very low, head down, juggling with strongs feels of being folded in two like a hankerchief in a breast pocket, unable to see outside unless you look straight ahead through the windscreen. I live in a city with roads of a third world country but I'd expect a car of this type to sail across them. It did the opposite. The wheels bang and thump on every ripple and bodge. The turning circle is a Jumbo jet area. Alloys are designed to get scuffed on the lowest kerb. The electric front seats take the time of an ocean liner to dock. The dash is a potage of traditional cues that don't quite cohere. Polished chrome surrounds everything inserted, throwbacks to the sixties. It looks so fussy. The owner expressed a litany of woes about running costs. "Nothing costs less than £1,000," he said.
Only acceleration impressed. For a barge.
As Ettore Bugatti so memorably said, "Bentley makes the fastest trucks on earth."
What have you admired only to discover it was a mirage?