Acontender for the Ultimate Beast of Bling title, the Bentley Continental GT is a gloriously meaty cruising machine in whose hand-crafted, plush interior you would expect to find royalty, a record label magnate or the sort of person who is usually accompanied by burly men in black suits.
The guilt I felt parking it outside my modest Bur Dubai apartment block was enough to make me want to temporarily rent a room at the Burj Al Arab. After all, what car better encapsulates the rarefied lifestyle of the mega-rich than a Bentley? This, of course, is reflected in its jaw-dropping price (see above, if you can bear to look). Let's face it, you could trade one of these for a two-bedroom apartment in The Greens and still have enough change for a mid-range Patek Philippe watch. Still, you get your money's worth. Sit in its cream leather "Cobra" seats (view them from the side and you'll see where the name comes from) and you'll start feeling like a well-heeled aristocrat who doesn't go anywhere without his personal valet.
Perhaps unfairly, I had expected the Bentley to be one of those hard-to-park, large-bonneted behemoths that you'd prefer to be driven in than drive, yet it was pleasingly navigable, hardly ever inflicting me with the anxiety that once gripped me to the point of paralysis while at the wheel of a Rolls-Royce.
One of heaviest cars on the market, despite having 65kg shaved off the previous model, it has a reassuringly leaden sensation when turning corners, hugging the road as though it's on magnetic rails. But despite its substantial weight, this thing can shift a bit, the six-speed Quickshift transmission reducing gear-change times by half. Yet even at high speeds it's blissfully quiet. Its noise-suppression technology is fantastic, rendering it almost silent when stationary.
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But I didn't want silence. I wanted to check out the cool eight-channel, eight-speaker system with iPod and MP3 compatibility, complemented by the great acoustics provided by the car's leather and wood interior.
When looking around the interior, for the first time, I found myself thinking it was a little scant on gadgets and functions, but I eventually realised that it's because almost everything is controlled by the 20cm touch-screen system. Using it takes a little practice but once you've gone through the familiarisation process you can't imagine using anything else.
As for gripes, none come easily to mind, apart from perhaps the rather thick A-pillars that mean your panoramic vision isn't great.
Still, a word of warning: when you drive one of these things be prepared for everyone from petrol pump attendants to parking valets to fawn over you and behave like the worst kind of sycophants when you so much as reach for the door handle to get out (one guy absolutely insisted on guiding me into a parking space, seemingly unaware I could see what was behind me thanks to the car's reverse camera). OK, so that's not too annoying, but the disappointed looks on their faces when you don't hand over a Dh100 tip kind of is.