Bentley Continental GT V8 Review
Bentley's 8th wonder

Story by Raymond Lai in La Rioja, Spain Photos by Bentley
8 May 2012

Less power and less cylinders than the Continental GT we’re all too familiar with but is the new V8 model really inferior to the W12? Raymond Lai drives it in Northern Spain to find out.

Introduction, styling

High-end coupes typically come in two forms – the sporty kind like the Maserati GranTurismo, Aston Martin Vantage or the elegant, stately types like the Rolls-Royce Phantom coupe, Mercedes-Benz CL and the Bentley Continental GT.

The Bentley’s classification as a sporty or a stately kind of luxury coupe is no longer clear-cut though, thanks to the introduction of the new base V8 model. While the W12 Continental GT that we’ve been so familiar with since the first gen car was launched way back in 2003 is best described as stately, elegant and classy, Bentley uses word like aggressive, sporty and extrovert to describe the V8.

To find out if Bentley is right with the adjectives to describe the V8, I’ve come to the region of La Rioja in Northern Spain where I’ll have the opportunity to assess the new Bentley on both road and track. Like the W12, the new V8 is available in both GT coupe and GTC convertible guises. The V8 was conceived out of Bentley’s environmental commitment to produce a new powertrain that delivers a 40 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions.

First launched last year, it’ll take an eagle-eyed to differentiate the second generation Continental GT from its predecessor. The newer car does have some obvious styling giveaways though, like the different sizes of the quad headlamps and the slimmer tail lamps among other styling features.

The V8 though, is easily distinguished from the W12 by its red winged “B” badges (Red Label in Bentley-speak), gloss black matrix radiator grille, more aggressively styled air intakes on the front bumper, distinctive twin ‘figure of eight’ exhaust tailpipes, optional 21-inch six-spoke wheels and so on. Details like the black radiator inserts, more aggressive looking nose, the big wheels and the sparring use of chrome bits on the exterior certainly give the V8 a more extrovert and sporty character and look, especially when compared to the more elegant, graceful feel and look of the W12.   

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