When Less Is More: Bentley’s 500 HP Continental GT and GTC V8

  • Bentley Continental GT V-8
  • Bentley Continental GT V-8
  • Bentley Continental GT V-8
  • Bentley Continental GT V-8
  • Bentley Continental GT V-8
  • Bentley Continental GT V-8
  • Bentley Continental GT V-8
  • Matthew Phenix

Typically, automobile manufacturers will ratchet up a car’s performance from year to year to keep enthusiasm at a boil: bigger engine, more power, more speed. Bentley is about to take a somewhat different tack with its acclaimed Continental GT coupe and Continental GTC convertible. For the 2013 model year, the British automaker’s two-door models—heretofore motivated only by a supremely smooth and titanically powerful 6.0-liter W-12 engine—will offer a highly advanced twin-turbo V-8.

The move is less about building an “entry-level” Continental GT than it is about building a better Continental GT—a more efficient, environmentally conscious automobile that nonetheless honors and elevates Bentley’s vaunted reputation for supreme opulence and world-beating performance.

The new engine, a 4.0-liter V-8 developed with corporate cousin Audi (which will employ versions of it in its S6, S7, and S8 models), makes use of twin turbochargers and a host of cutting-edge technologies, including direct fuel injection and a variable-displacement system that shuts down four cylinders during highway cruising and deceleration for improved efficiency. Bentley claims a 40 percent improvement in fuel consumption and exhaust emissions; the GT V8 will cruise for 500 miles between fill-ups.

Of course, it’s not all about mpg’s and tailpipe emissions. Performance matters, and the new V-8 delivers, cranking out an impressive 500 hp and 481 ft lbs of torque through a new 8-speed automatic transmission and, of course, a rear-biased all-wheel-drive setup. Bentley claims the GT V8 will find 60 mph in a scant 4.6 seconds and press on to a top speed of 188 mph.

When the 2013 Continental GT V8 and GTC V8 go on sale later this year, they’ll share the showroom with Bentley’s new-for-2011 Continental GT and GTC. And it’ll take a keen eye to discern an 8-cylinder Continental GT from its 12-cylinder counterpart. Look for the black rear valance panel with twin “figure-8” tailpipes, and red enamel winged-B emblems on the grille, the deck lid, and the wheel centers. To the ear, however, there’ll be no mistaking the two: whereas the W-12 delivers a muted, turbine-line thrum, the high-revving new V-8 has a high-pitched, goosebump-inducing snarl at full throttle.

Bentley hasn’t revealed pricing for its V-8-powered Continental GT and GTC, but expect the 2013 models to neatly undercut their 12-cylinder kin, which for 2012 command $189,900 and $205,600, respectively. (www.bentleymotors.com)

From Around the Web...
The concepts on display ranged from vintage racecar reproductions to the latest in cutting-edge...
The concept commemorates Europe’s first series-produced turbocharged car…
The British marque and Italian coachbuilder will produce only 99 examples of the 600 hp roadster…
The 770 hp carbon-fiber convertible roared into this year’s Monterey Car Week and stole the show…
Escala won’t likely go into production, but its design cues will appear in Cadillac’s future lineup…
A classic example of French coachbuilding takes top honors at the Monterey Car Week event…
Only 100 examples of the pen will be made, one for each centennial 7 Series produced…
Genesis takes aim at luxury with its new G90, which we put to the test in British Columbia…
The only known unrestored example in its original livery makes it back to the Motor City…
UAE’s W Motors shows off its $3.4 million Lykan HyperSport and new $1.85 million Fenyr SuperSport…