Smaller engined Continental could actually be the better drive.
Bentley is expanding its portfolio of V8-engined models with the announcement of new additions to its Continental range.
The third-generation of Bentley’s large four-seater Continental GT coupe and convertible will become available with twin-turbocharged V8 power by the end of the year.
Differentiating these new V8 derivatives from their W12-powered sibling will be factory fitted 20-inch wheels, although customers will have the option of inching-up to ‘22s if they wish. Standard exterior features include quad-exhaust ends and LED matrix headlights.
Inside the Bentley Continental V8s will roll off the assembly line in Crewe with a 10-speaker sound system and a cabin built with handstitched leather trim and a choice of the best wood veneers. Bentley’s smartly integrated centre-console 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen adds the necessary digital convenience.
Mechanically the Continental’s 4-litre V8 is rated at 405 kW and 770 Nm. That’s good enough for 0-100 kph in 4 seconds, with a top speed of 318 kph. For the purpose of comparison, Bentley’s 6-litre W12-powered Continental clocks 0-100 kph in 3.7 seconds and runs a true top speed of 333 kph. The ultimate performance discrepancy between the new V8 and Bentley’s more traditionally configured W12 Continental is rather small.
What possibly favours the decision to downsize to the V8 even more, is that is will place less weight over the front axle, which should make the smaller-engined Continental more agile and less prone to understeer.
Bentley’s engineers have reconfigured all the new third-generation Continentals, which are all-wheel drive, to add torque to the front wheels only in exceptional circumstances. That means that these large British grand touring cars are by default rear-wheel drive biased – and to best exploit that trait, the lighter and more agile V8-powered Continental might be a more rewarding drive.
South African deliveries of the new V8 Continentals are expected by early 2020, with the American market being the first to receive the V8s, in the third quarter of this year.