Bentley Continental GT V8 review
* More fuel-efficient Bentley GT driven * Priced from 122,000 (est) * On sale February...
The Bentley Continental GT was already one of the most luxurious coupes money could buy, but the single engine option was a 567bhp 6.0-litre W12 that was so thirsty you seemed to spend half your life at petrol stations.
Now, though, there's another engine on offer: a new 4.0-litre, twin-turbo, direct-injection V8, which can shut off four cylinders when it's being driven gently.
This new engine is designed to use 40% less fuel than the W12 when combined with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox and various other energy-saving measures. Yet it still produces 500bhp and propels the lighter Continental GT (and GTC, but not Flying Spur saloon as yet) to huge speeds with virtually the same accelerative thrust.
As well as the new engine, Bentley has given the car slightly more aggressive frontal styling, while marginally less comprehensive standard equipment helps reduce the price by around 10% compared with the W12 although all the usual Bentley personalisation options are still available.
What's it like to drive? Drive the new Continental V8 and the choice between it and the W12 is a no-brainer.
The new engine gives the expected massive urge from low engine speeds and sounds magnificent a deep bass soundtrack overlaid with a sharp, staccato crackle as the pace rises while the new gearbox makes the most of its efforts.
It gets better, too. The lighter engine and some suspension recalibrations make this Continental extremely agile belying its true weight. The steering feels more connected to the front wheels, and the whole car feels more nimble. In short, it's brilliant.
What's it like inside? Pretty much everything in the cabin is covered with soft leather or polished wood, so it's an incredibly luxurious environment.
As in the W12 model, the dashboard is styled to echo the wings of the Bentley badge. Fortunately, this doesn't detract from the ergonomics the layout of the controls is clear, and the touch-screen infotainment system is easy to use.
The seats are wonderfully supportive, too, and there's loads of space for those up front. True, things are tighter in the rear, but there's still enough head- and legroom for adults, and access is pretty good.
Should I buy one? This new V8 is expected to average around 24mpg, which might not sound particularly impressive yet it compares well with the W12's 17.1mpg, and the 17.2mpg of the rival Aston Martin DB9, and the 21.6mpg of Ferrari's California.
Add in the fact that the V8 is nearly as fast as the W12 and much more enjoyable to drive and we'd say the bigger engine's days could be numbered.