The introduction of the 4-litre V8 Continental GT in early 2012 was a long time coming. It’s a little slower than the 6-litre W12 model (or rather, a little less fast), and more affordable (or rather, less unaffordable). The V8 variant has been popular, making up half of all Continental GT/GTC sales worldwide and helping Bentley production to exceed 10,000 units (10,120 to be exact) last year, for the first time in the marque’s 94-year history.
Now, there’s a V8 S Continental GT that’s even more “GT” than the V8 version, with 21bhp more (521bhp) and 20Nm more (680Nm). It’s the same Audi-supplied 4-litre V8, but with a 0.1bar increase in boost pressure plus some ECU reprogramming. The V8 S motor is almost as torquey as the 700Nm W12 powerplant! It’s equally punchy, too, smashing the century sprint in 4.5 seconds, same as the W12 model and 0.3 of a second quicker than the V8 model. The V8 S is only outgunned by the W12 when the speedo shows 160km/h. Every Continental GT can exceed 300km/h, with the V8 reaching 303km/h and the V8 S hitting 309km/h.
Despite the hearty performance of the V8 S, it’s not particularly thirsty compared to the non-S V8. In fact, Bentley claims that both 8-cylinder engines return the same mileage and emit the same amount of CO2.
Like its V8 sibling, the V8 S is available as a GT coupe or a GTC convertible. Both bodystyles feature the new bespoke piano-black front splitter, side sills and rear diffuser that help to cut the coefficient of drag from 0.31 to 0.30. The other new exterior elements for the V8 S are “Beluga gloss” door mirror covers, dark-tinted front and rear lamps, and a signature colour called Monaco Yellow (as shown here).
Interestingly, the profile of the GTC’s four-layer soft-top is almost exactly the same as the GT’s roofline. Also of interest is the GTC’s torsional strength of 22,000Nm per degree, which is impressive considering the sheer size of the vehicle. It’s not a hollow claim, too, with the GTC body showing no sign of shimmy on the move. The GTC is 175kg heavier and slightly slower than the GT, but what’s a split second between Bentleys?
The GT V8 S coupe exhibits a noticeable sparkle in its all-wheel-drive stride that, sometimes, makes it feel even more accelerative than the W12-powered GT. There’s a touch of turbo lag, which is exacerbated by the car’s 2.3-tonne weight, but once the V8 starts working really hard, it pulls like the proverbial freight train, complete with barks-and-crackles from the optional sports exhaust system.
The 8-speed ZF automatic transmission is excellent – keen to kickdown, even from part throttle, and always keeping the engine on the boil, thereby providing rapid access to the fattest, strongest part of the torque band. The gearshifts are syrupy smooth, too.
On the open road, the V8 S is at its best, hauling the GT like it’s a whole tonne lighter. The V8 S sits 10mm lower than the V8 and “squats” a further 6mm when it exceeds 200km/h, so as to reduce the aerodynamic drag. Air suspension makes this possible. Compared to the V8 Conti GT, the V8 S has had its air springs, four-mode dampers, bushings and anti-roll bars stiffened – remarkably, without compromising the original comfortable ride. Bentley’s engineers attribute this to their fine-tuning of the active dampers to match the Pirelli P Zeros perfectly. The steering has been recalibrated, too.
The Conti GT V8 S takes corners like a sports car – a big and heavy one, with massive 20-inch tyres that fight to change the direction of the car in response to steering input. Through the same corners, the GTC V8 S seems less settled due to its less firmly sprung suspension, but the benefit is a gentler ride ideal for boulevard-cruiser types.
Cruising between cities, such as San Diego-San Francisco or maybe Singapore-Kuala Lumpur, comes naturally to the Conti GT, which is capable of maintaining high speeds and covering long distances in a stress-free manner. Yet, the Conti GT is also able to carve up twisty tarmac and manoeuvre hard on mountainside roads, but its dampers must be in “max” mode. In the dampers’ softest setting, the Bentley wafts about town like the Mulsanne limousine.
Scheduled to arrive in Singapore in the fourth quarter of this year, the Continental GT V8 S is expected to command a 15 percent premium over the V8 model, depending on the final specification. There’s a good chance that the V8 S will cannibalise some sales from both the W12 and V8 versions, because it boasts the best of both Bentleys, so to speak.
ENGINE 3993cc, 32-valves, V8,
MAX POWER 521bhp at 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 680Nm at 1700-5000rpm
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic
with manual select
0-100KM/H 4.5 seconds
TOP SPEED 309km/h
CONSUMPTION 9.4km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 246g/km
PRICE INCL. COE
TO BE ANNOUNCED
CONTINENTAL GT V8