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2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S vs. 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4Matic

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 12/17/2014 Rory Jurnecka, Robert Guio
2014 Bentley Continental GT and 2015 Mercedes Benz S63 AMG 4Matic 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S vs. 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4Matic

It's not easy being among the 1 percent. For example, when you or I go new car shopping, we only have to buy one car. The obscenely wealthy have no such cake walk, usually requiring no fewer than five or six cars to fill all those empty spaces in their massive garages. Similarly, when the average car buyer specs out a vehicle with options and packages, budget (and/or common sense) is usually a factor, making the process relatively straightforward. White paint, tan interior, navigation package, floor mats, done.

Spec out a Bentley, and you'll have to spend hours poring over catalogs with literally hundreds of options. Why get the standard paint when the $4,395 Oxford Blue is so appealing? Don't like that color? There are 106 more in the online configurator. The Linen-colored leather upholstery one of 17 options, but what color should the contrasting stitching be, and what about the secondary leather trim? There are eight different wheels to choose from, seven options packages, and enough individual accessories and options to make your head spin -- from carpet binding colors to steering wheel coverings. And this is before we get to the truly bespoke stuff your local dealer is all too happy to special order, which basically encompasses anything you could think of.

2014 Bentley Continental GT and 2015 Mercedes Benz S63 AMG 4Matic© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Bentley Continental GT and 2015 Mercedes Benz S63 AMG 4Matic Then imagine going through the same process for five other cars. It's enough to drive a billionaire insane.

A few interesting statistics: The average Bentley owner is male and worth not $1 million or $5 million, but $30 million. He's not buying the Bentley as a second car or a third car, but an eighth car. The Mercedes S63 coupe buyer isn't much different. With annual household income of at least $600,000, there are typically at least three more cars in the garage, of which the S63 is commonly the daily beater -- something with which to pick up the dog from the psychiatrist and park next to the door-dinging riff raff in the Ferragamo lot. Directly from Mercedes-Benz public relations, "What we hear time and time again from these buyers is that they have a fleet of cars to choose from, but their AMG has the most miles on it."

But which of these two land yachts to buy? That requires a day spent cruising around Rancho Palos Verdes, California -- home to a Donald Trump-owned golf course and some of Southern California's wealthiest folks. Our route includes plenty of higher-speed road, winding and hilly roads, and stoplight-plagued surface streets, all with the Pacific Ocean and the outline of Catalina Island providing the scenic backdrop.

With the two parked aside each other, the Bentley is the more visually interesting vehicle. There's a presence to the Bentley that marks it as something special. The upright front grille and muscular rear haunches suggest not only power but elegance. The interior is a heady mix of leather, wood, and metal -- all the genuine article, as you might expect at this price point. That said, for the first time to these eyes, the Bentley is starting to look a little dated -- a little "old world" -- next to the near space-age Mercedes.

2014 Bentley Continental GT and 2015 Mercedes Benz S63 AMG 4Matic© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Bentley Continental GT and 2015 Mercedes Benz S63 AMG 4Matic

Said my cohort, associate editor Christian Seabaugh, "The Bentley looks stunning, and even with nothing but minor aesthetic changes the Continental looks luxurious and modern. Basically, others still know you've arrived when you pull up in the Continental."

Where the dark Oxford Blue paint works well on the Bentley, the dark shade of the Benz's paint seems to hide some of the car's more striking features. The contour lines along the sides disappear, turning what is a very sleek-looking car into a bit of a nondescript blob. Venture inside, and that's forgotten, though. The S63's interior is a lovely, high-tech place with a gorgeous wide-screen display (right out of the S-Class sedan) and a crisp TFT instrument panel. The vast, sweeping dashboard is covered in leather, but it's absolutely huge -- almost like it's there for the sole purpose of taking up space. The Mercedes also has technology that the Bentley can only dream about -- like the damn-near-autonomous Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control (now with steering assist).

"Inside the S63 AMG Coupe feels like it's from a whole new century compared to the Continental," Seabaugh said. "Both the instrument cluster and infotainment screens look and function great and make the car feel like it's on the bleeding edge of luxury and technology. It's these screens that help the S63 really distance itself from the Bentley. These screens allow the Merc to have radar cruise control, lane departure warning, night vision, lane keep assist, and more."

But does the more modern-feeling Mercedes drive better than the Bentley? Well, yes and no. It's slightly quicker: 0 to 60 mph runs were a dead heat at 3.6 seconds each, but although the 12.0-sec quarter-mile runs were also a tie, the Merc had a 0.5 mph trap speed advantage. The Merc also showed the Conti its taillights on the figure eight, where it lapped more than a half-second faster while averaging a tenth of a g more. The Benz also stopped a single foot shorter in our 60 mph to 0 braking test, for what it's worth. Part of the S63's success may be due to its considerably lighter curb weight. The Conti GT weighs in at over 400 pounds more.

Funny thing is, though, while the Benz is downright boring to drive, the Bentley is much more entertaining. Push both cars hard in a turn and abruptly lift off the throttle, and the Bentley's rear end will start to drift before the electronics restore peace and order. It's an all-too-brief moment, but the Mercedes won't even give the driver that -- it refuses to do anything but push its way around a turn, burning up the outside front tire in the process. If you're looking for a driver's car, the Mercedes isn't it.

But that's not the way the majority of these cars will be driven. Most will be content to schlep their owners around town, from the country club to the symphony to the office. And for that purpose, it's tough to argue with the superiority of the Mercedes. Its ride is smoother, it's quieter and easier to drive, the ergonomics are vastly better, and it's loaded with enough bells and whistles to make the space shuttle look like a Greyhound bus, and all this for more than $60,000 less than the Bentley while offering more equipment. Sure, some of the Bentley's options are a little pricey (the contrast stitching in the cabin is $1,905), but even the base price of the Bentley is more than $20,000 higher than the Mercedes' as-tested cost. Although we doubt the extra dough will dissuade many would-be Bentley buyers, most wealthy folks didn't get that way by paying more for less.

In the end, the Mercedes is simply the better point-a-to-point-b tool for the average 1 percenter, even if it's not nearly as romantic or emotional a car as the Bentley is. But if you need a little romanticism in your life, we won't be upset if you ignore our advice.

2014 Bentley Continental GT and 2015 Mercedes Benz S63 AMG 4Matic© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Bentley Continental GT and 2015 Mercedes Benz S63 AMG 4Matic


 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4Matic Coupe
BASE PRICE$199,225 $161,825
PRICE AS TESTED$255,825*$172,450
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront-engine, AWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupeFront-engine, AWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe
ENGINE4.0L/521-hp/502-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 5.5L/577-hp/664-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION8-speed automatic7-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)5132 lb (57/43%)4718 lb (55/45%)
WHEELBASE108.1 in115.9 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT189.2 x 76.5 x 55.3197.9 x 74.8 x 55.6 in
0-60 MPH3.6 sec3.6 sec
QUARTER MILE12.0 sec @ 116.6 mph12.0 sec @ 117.1 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH105 ft104 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.88 g (avg)0.90 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT25.5 sec @ 0.72 g (avg)24.9 sec @ 0.82 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON15/24/18 mpg15/23/18 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY225/140 kW-hrs/100 miles225/147 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS1.08 lb/mile1.09 lb/mile
*As-tested price refers to previously tested GT V8 S; comparison car carried a $235,605 MSRP.
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