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Video | The Bentley Turbo R Was the Ultimate Bentley 30 Years Ago

I recently had the chance to drive a Bentley Turbo R, which was the top-of-the-line Bentley back when it was on sale in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Turbo R was basically the Bentley Mulsanne of its era, with a price tag to match — the one I drove had an original sticker price of about $200,000, which is about $380,000 in today’s money. So, what’s it like to drive the ultimate Bentley from 30 years ago?

Well, the video linked here highlights the quirks and features of this car, but today I wanted to address the driving experience a bit more than what you see above. And the driving experience is … interesting.

I say that in both a good and a bad way. There are some things I like about driving the Turbo R, the most obvious of which is the fact that it’s fantastically quiet and relaxing, even 30 years later. It feels like a big, luxurious, well … luxury car. Because that’s exactly what it is. I also love looking out over the front end, the big, square Bentley hood, which just serves as a massive reminder that you’re better than everyone else. It’s wonderful.

The driving dynamics leave a little something to be desired, however. This was the “performance” luxury car at the time — Rolls-Royce was the luxury side of the brand, and Bentley was the sporty side — but it’s hard to believe that now. The Turbo R isn’t very fast, it isn’t very spry and it isn’t very exciting. It’s amazing this car was ever the “performance” vehicle in any brand’s lineup, especially Bentley, which now makes such wonderfully fantastic performance vehicles.

But it was a different era, and the Turbo R was wonderfully equipped to deal with it — at the time, anyway. These days, driving the Turbo R is very much like taking a trip back to a different era, sitting in an overstuffed seat that isn’t designed with the kind of back support we now know about, steering a wheel that isn’t as precise or as connected as modern Bentley models, and using technology that just feels positively ancient, even though, to me, 1990 just doesn’t seem like all that long ago.

But, clearly, it was — and this car is proof. And as fun as it is to drive around in this thing, well, it certainly isn’t a very modern car. But it was the ultimate car back in the day. Find a Bentley Turbo R for sale

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  1. Doug-I offered, but you passed on driving my ‘93 black/tan. I understand you didn’t want to schlep to Illinois to do so, but the car was even better than the ‘90. Oh well!

  2. Please name one car from 1990 that is as “precise or connected” as one made today? You talk as though 1990 was the dark ages. You have to remember, Rolls and Bentley wouldn’t even report horsepower or torque figures back then. 

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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