Sultan Qaboos bin Said has been the power on the throne in Oman for the past 40 years.
During his rule, the Sultanate has evolved into a thriving country that appears blessed with peace and tranquility.
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And with nearly one million barrels of crude oil per day being pumped from beneath the Sultan’s royal slippers, there’s evidence of prosperity nearly everywhere you look.
In an oddly comparative way, Bentley has also undergone a major transformation.
Under Volkswagen’s ownership since 1998, the Crewe, England-based automaker has evolved from producing small batches of expensive high-powered coaches into a constructor of somewhat mass-produced luxury conveyances.
Leading this renaissance is the Continental GT, a four-seat, all-wheel-drive coupe that arrived for the 2004 model year.
Since then, Bentley has sold more than 28,000 around the world, making it by far the most successful model built since Walter Owen Bentley founded the company in 1919.
Commenting on the company’s previous money-losing history, Bentley engineering head Ulrich Eichhorn says that “the Continental GT saved Bentley.”
With its first-rate highways, moderate 30 degrees C winter climate and stunning coastal, mountain and desert scenery, Oman is an excellent backdrop to showcase the updated GT’s formidable capabilities.
Parked on the polished marble entranceway to Muscat’s appropriately named Shangri-La hotel, the 2012 GT appears little changed from the previous coupe.
A close inspection reveals slightly more pronounced fenders and a reshaped trunk lid.
To create these intricate panels, Bentley employs a process called Aluminum Super Forming that applies both heat and air pressure to a sheet of lightweight aluminum alloy.
The GT’s signature chromed mesh grille sits slightly more upright and the restyled headlamps are now ringed by small Light Emitting Diode (LED) daytime running lights.
At the opposite end, the LED taillights blend smoothly into the haunches and the twin oval tailpipes have been widened to emphasize the coupe’s slightly wider stance.
The front-to-rear power allocation is set at 40:60 for normal driving conditions, but the AWD system will immediately adjust that ratio if either the front or rear traction becomes compromised.
Along with delivering wide, thrust-induced grins, the GT can hustle through tight corners as if being magnetically held to the pavement, which is certainly surprising given the car’s heft and physical size.
If one was blessed with about $210,000 to spend on personal transportation, this Bentley’s absolute luxury and take-no-prisoners performance would easily match any driving enthusiast’s penchant for the automotive good life.
It’s a formula for Bentley’s progress, in a country that appreciates it.