Reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay only managed to spend a few days with Bentley’s latest Continental. But it was an incredible experience he’ll never forget.
It really isn’t very often that you get to drive a machine that you’ll remember forever.
For me, my week with the Bentley Continental GT V8 S was enough to be certain that the car will always burn an impression into my grey matter.
'Never meet your heroes'
Motoring along in a different vehicle each week never gets boring, but there are some car shapes and engine notes that don’t stimulate you.
Even some Bentleys aren’t always what you imagined they’d be like. They do say, “Never meet your heroes,” don’t they?
Well, with the GT V8 S, I’m pleased to report that the car lived up to, and more than surpassed, all my expectations. Why? Well, read on.
Building on the success of the Continental GT V8, the new GT V8 S model features a more powerful version of Bentley’s four-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine.
Smooth and breathtaking
It develops a mind-altering 521bhp, delivered via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The increased clout provides exhilarating high performance with breathtaking acceleration and syrupy-smooth power delivery.
Switch into S mode via the gear selector and the V8 S rewards you with a razor sharp throttle response while gears are held for longer with quicker shifts.
All of this means the GT V8 S coupe dispatches the 0-62 mph sprint in just 4.5 seconds onto a terrifying top speed of 192 mph.
No compromise on economy
And, shared with all Continental models, an all-wheel drive system ensures the delivery of safe yet dynamic handling in all road conditions.
The amplified performance is accomplished without detriment to the V8 lump’s fuel economy and emissions, or its ability to cover more than 500 miles between fill-ups.
The GT V8 S coupe returns a combined cycle fuel economy of 26.8 mpg and CO2 emissions of 246 g/km.
Behind the wheel it’s always immense fun and this is heightened under acceleration because that’s when the character of the exhaust system changes spectacularly.
Looks to match performance
The twin turbo-charged Bentley V8’s soundtrack transforms from a purr into an emotive snarl.
The way the Bentley drives is matched by its looks.
While the coachwork of the Continental GT is inspired by iconic Bentleys of the past, the design of the GT V8 S takes a more dramatic direction and its enhanced road presence is clear before a wheel is turned.
The lowered suspension provides a sleek and resolute stance, complemented by lower-body styling.
This includes a front splitter, discrete side sills and subtle rear diffuser finished in Beluga gloss.
The black gloss radiator grille with single chrome divider bar and figure-of-eight exhaust tail pipes instantly signify the potent V8 engine.
The colossal 20-inch wheels are distinctive to the S model with an open-spoke design that reveals red-painted brake callipers.
Subtle V8 S badges are applied to each front wing, and as with the other members of the Continental V8 family, the famous Bentley Wings emblems feature a red centre.
Of course, I can’t write about this particular Bentley without mentioning the lush cabin that surrounds you when you’re biting through the bitumen.
The interior has soft-touch leathers, wood veneers, polished metals and deep-pile carpeting.
Discreet "V8 S" badges are also displayed on each sill tread plate.
Can you see why a week behind the wheel of this car will now be etched into my memory forever?
Pros & Cons
- Potent √
- Thrilling √
- Luxurious √
- Soundtrack √
- Expensive X
- Max speed: 192mph
- 0-62 mph: 4.5 secs
- Combined mpg: 26.8
- Engine: 4-litre twin-turbocharged direct injection V8
- Max. power (bhp): 521
- Max. torque (lb/ft): 502
- CO2: 246 g/km
- Price: £146,000