Turbo RT £18,750. The RT was the last, rarest and most powerful of the Bentley Turbo series. Richard Gunn tries one out.
The Bentley Turbo RT is a tale of two characters. On the one hand, it’s a blunt, uncompromising instrument of breezeblock styling and immense power. But it’s also a luxurious and pampering sophisticate with considerable charisma.
This example, handsomely finished in Royal Blue, could almost be called subtle, with a minimum of exterior brightwork, the muted metallic hue helping subdue its bulkiness. With just over 55,000 miles on its clock (verified by a comprehensive service history), it isn’t a surprise to find little to fault with the outside of this RT. The nose has some stonechips - which could easily be mistaken for flakes in the metallic paint - and there are a couple of minute scratches on the bootlid, plus some tiny bubbles under the nearside rear side window. The front bumper is unmarked, but there is a minor crack on the nearside rear from a parking knock.
The tyres are matching Avon Turbospeeds with plenty of life left, enveloping hefty alloys that exhibit the occasional patch of corrosion around their inner edges and spokes. All the panel gaps are straight and there’s comprehensive undersealing.
The interior is practically like new. The Cotswold Cream upholstery with French Navy piping looks hardly sat in, and the carpets are in excellent order. There’s no cracking or lifting of the walnut veneer anywhere. Everything electrical works as it should, including the steering wheel.
Parking sensors have been retrofitted and there’s also a period cassette player behind the swivelling central panel.
Underneath the bonnet it’s very clean, although so much is shrouded in black plastic that it’s difficult to see much beyond the top of the engine and the row of fluid reservoirs down the left-hand side.
In action, this RT is both pussycat and tiger. It’s content to waft around with a low burble, but all it takes is a press of the ‘S’ button on top of the four-speed automatic gear selector to unleash its more animalistic nature. With Sport engaged there’s enormous acceleration despite the equally substantial weight. The instant enthusiasm denotes an engine and transmission in fine health. Although the tweaks to the suspension are noticeable, with sharper handling than previous Rolls-Royce-based Bentleys, this still isn’t a car you’d want to throw around too many corners as its sheer size means some wallow is unavoidable.
The power steering and brakes all behave as they should; the former being nicely weighted, the latter being very sharp and bringing this Bentley to a quick halt.
At £18,750, this is a lot of car for the money, and that summary includes its condition and driving experience - as well as its leviathan proportions.
CHOOSE YOUR MULSANNE
► The Mulsanne is launched in 1980 as the badge-engineered Bentley compliment to the #Rolls-Royce
Silver Spirit. As part of the plan to revive the Bentley brand and distinguish it as more sporting, a turbocharged version appears in 1982, giving the traditional 6.75-litre pushrod V8 engine a 50 per cent power boost.
► The #Mulsanne
name is dropped for 1985’s turbocharged #Bentley
, which is now known simply as the Turbo R (for ‘Roadholding’ to denote its reworked, more performance-orientated suspension with a 50 per cent increase in roll stiffness). Power is around the 296bhp mark. Twin round headlamps replace the previous rectangular items during 1988.
► At the end of #1991
the ageing three-speed #GM
automatic gearbox was replaced by their new four-speed 4L80-E unit.
► The #1997
swansong for the Mulsanne-shaped Turbos is the twin-turbocharged RT, of which just 252 are made. With 400bhp on tap, they externally stand out with mesh grilles, sports wheels and colour-coded bumpers. The #Olympian
are limited edition variants. Production ends in #1998
, when the #Arnage
Contact Hanwells Bentley and Rolls-Royce,
Hanwell, London (020 8567 9729, hanwells.net)
Engine 6750cc, V8, ohv, twin turbochargers
Power 400bhp @ 4100rpm
Torque 619lb ft @ 2150rpm
Top speed 150mph (limited);
Fuel consumption: 12-14mpg