Bentley Continental GT V8

There’s a general consensus, almost an un-written rule, amongst motoring writers and journalists, whatever their status, experience or quality of publication, that states that the entry-level model of any car range is more often than not the best of the bunch.

For the last half century readers of car reviews the world over have been told by both the great and the good, and those of us still learning the ropes, that Porsche’s 911 is at it’s best when it’s two-wheel drive, devoid of spoilers and comes with a manual gearbox. Forget the GT3 a bog-standard Carrera is really the purest way to experience what Porsche call “driving in its purest form”.

It’s the same too when it comes to Peugeot’s, a three cylinder 208 on 15”steel rims is all the more entertaining thanks to it’s frugality. That said, the world awaits the 208GTi with bated breath, and yet still we wonder whether its extra weight will dull its dynamics. According to those in the know it’s that same story for the BMW 3-series, the Range-Rover and the Ford Fiesta too.

So what exactly any of this got to do with Bentley Continental you see before you? Well this particular Continental just happens to be GTV8, it’s the entry level one; in fact it’s the cheapest brand-new Bentley you can buy.

All things are relative of course, being a Bentley the GTV8 doesn’t exactly come cheap. The starting price of £123,850 would still bag you a nice 2up-2down in the sleepier parts of middle England, but it’s unlikely that your cottage of choice would come anywhere near as nicely appointed.

Pull open the Continental’s double glazed door and you’re greeted by acres of thick hand-stitched, quilted leather. Machine turned aluminium covers the dashboard a la Bentleys of old, and should you wish the air-conditioned seats will massage you too; even the steering wheel is heated. If your budget allows it the optional naim audio system is a must have too - you’d swear your band of choice were playing live on the Continental’s snug fitting rear seat.

So, interior-wise it’s Pym’s Lane perfection as usual, you’d be hard pressed to notice any differences between the V8 and larger engined Continental W12, a rectangular brake pedal rather than a round one was the only thing I noted. Outside too you’ll have to be a fully paid up member of the Bentley spotters club to really see the signs. Those in the know will note the badges have a red background rather than the more usual black one, and possibly that the exhausts are shaped like the figure 8. The biggest giveaway however is the grille, it’s black rather than chrome, but Bentley make bespoke cars remember, so you can bet some owners will spec a shiny one just because they can.

Where those lucky enough to spend time with the V8 will really notice the difference though is at the pumps. The 4litre twin turbo engine employs some clever technology that means not only does it produce 500bhp (not far off the W12’s 567) and sufficient torque to hurl 2.3 tonnes of Crewe’s finest coachwork towards the horizon with apparent ease – 0-62 takes 4.8 seconds – but it’s also capable of 26.1 mpg. By de-activating the outermost cylinders in one bank and the innermost of the other, under light loads this engine runs as a V4. The transition between the two modes is imperceptible and an 8 speed auto-box that ensures sufficient urge regardless of speed means you’ll never notice it either.

 It’s that engine, it’s low speed V8 woofle and high speed devilish cackle, together with a  weight saving, albeit a small one, that make the V8 Continental seem more sporting, less GT like to drive. The steering feels a little sharper, the ride a little less wafty, somehow the V8 feels more athletic than you expect it might be, and yet should you want to it you could happily cross continents in this car and arrive at your destination feeling as relaxed and unruffled as you when you started out.

The V8 Continental proves the rule. As the entry level model, not only to the range but to Bentley ownership as a whole, it provides the all of the luxury, all of the thrills and yet saves you a little cash too.  Never before has being at the bottom of the ladder felt so good.

 

Bentley Continental GT V8

 

Engine: 3993cc twin-turbo V8 32V Petrol

Power:  500 BHP @ 6000rpm

Torque: 487 lbft @ 1700rpm

Transmission:  8 speed automatic with selectable ratios & 4WD

Performance: 0-62mph 4.8 sec

Max Speed: 198mph

MPG: 26.7 Combined.

CO2: 246g/km

Price: from £123,850 (car driven £152,995)

 

www.liam-bird.com

 

@bird-liam

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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