This is the new Bentley Continental GT V8 S. In essence, it’s a faster, more focused and sportier coupe or convertible than the normal V8 models.
Bentley’s engineers have beefed up the 4.0-litre V8 engine so it now produces 521bhp, while the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox has been recalibrated to hang on to gears for longer. You can also add an optional sports exhaust for a matching soundtrack.
The suspension has been spiced up as well, so is stiffer and sits 10mm lower. The electronic safety systems have also been tinkered with, all in the name of allowing a zestier driving experience if you push the four-wheel-drive Bentley hard.
Other modifications are cosmetic, with the highlights including door sills, a subtly different grille and 20-inch alloys that are unique to the ‘S’ models.
What's the 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S like to drive?
The standard V8 models are already firmer and more agile than the rather more relaxed W12 ones. So can you detect an even more focused character in the new V8 S? Yes, but for most of us, for most of the time, we’re talking only about nuances.
In both GT coupe and GTC convertible versions, there’s added sharpness in the way the car turns in to and attacks bends. Certainly, the V8 S does everything with far more finesse than a car that weighs more than two tonnes deserves to. Like every other Continental model, there’s confidence-inspiring traction, too.
It’s certainly faster than the standard V8. It also feels more aggressive, especially if you put the gearbox in ‘sport’ mode and use the steering column-mounted paddles to change up through the gears. In fact, it feels supercar quick from around 30mph all the way up to seriously fast speeds.
Our test cars were fitted with the optional sports exhaust, which adds hugely to the experience and sends out a variety of fruity, throaty roars as you accelerate or downshift.
Best of all, though, if you’re not in the mood, the V8 S also plays the long-distance cruiser role to a tee. You can be ambling along at urban speeds, and silently and effortlessly get up to a fast cruise without the assault on your ears.
There's an added firmness to the ride in both the hard and soft-top models, though. Admittedly our cars were riding on optional 21-inch wheels (20-inch alloys are standard), but in both cases there was slightly more thunking and jolting coming into the cabin, even with the electronic suspension set to comfort. It’s all so well controlled, though, and becomes apparent only on the most scarred roads, so it’s hardly a deal breaker.
What's the 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S like inside?
The only real clue that you are driving the V8 S, rather than a regular model, comes from stepping over special badges on the kick plates that cover the door sills.
Once behind the wheel, it feels as special as every other Continental GT or GTC. Yes, some of the minor buttons and switches are fiddly, but the overwhelming sense is one of opulence and fine craftsmanship, with lovely stitched leather and polished steel covering almost everything you see and touch.
The fundamentals are good, too: the electrically adjustable seats and steering wheel afford a top-notch driving position, and the touch-screen infotainment system is simple to use.
Space up front is excellent, although rear-seat room in both the coupe and convertible is snug and better suited to children. Likewise, luggage space, especially in the soft-top, will be challenged by more than two suitcases.
Should I buy one?
The Continental GT V8 S could potentially be a difficult car to understand. Price wise, it sits between the standard V8 model and the range-topping W12 Speed, but it is also slightly more expensive than the ‘normal’ 12-cylinder model.
So is it worth it? We’d say yes. The attractions of the V8 models still overwhelm what the W12 cars have to offer and there’s enough about the S, both in performance and aesthetics, to recommend it over the entry-level V8 model.
So all round, this is a terrific super-luxury coupe or convertible – albeit one that requires serious financial commitment to buy and run.
What Car? says...
Bentley Continental GT V8 S coupé
Engine size 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Price from £139,000 Power 521bhp Torque 502lb ft
0-62mph 4.3 seconds
Top speed 192mph Fuel economy 26.8mpg
Bentley Continental GT V8 S convertible
Engine size 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 Price from £152,900
Torque 502lb ft
0-62mph 4.5 seconds Top speed 191mph Fuel economy 25.9mpg