Lighter and leaner than its larger siblings, the new Continental GT V8 is nonetheless every inch a Bentley, right down to the luxuriously redesigned cabin. Drive one and you'll experience the raw power and unique roar from its 4-litre V8.
All-wheel drive and an eight-speed transmission transmit its power to the road with unshakeable precision, making the GT V8 an exhilarating, involving and passionate entrance to Bentley ownership.
There is a lean and muscular look to the Continental GT V8 that's entirely in keeping with the powertrain beneath the bonnet. The Crewe styling team has created a Bentley coupé of elegantly tailored lines and muscular form, with a new bright chrome grille replacing the gloss back of the previous model - bringing it into line with the rest of the Continental range. Beautifully designed auto-fold mirrors mean even the practical necessities can be stunning.
But there's a darker side to this Bentley, and it can be summoned up by pressing the start button and bringing the advanced 4.8 litre V8 engine to life. Acceleration from 0-60 mph in just 4.6 seconds attests to the power of the advanced 500bhp V8 engine, and with a potential range of over 530 miles between fill-ups you'll be able to spend some quality time enjoying the simple, modern feel of the handcrafted interior.
The Crewe styling team has created a Bentley coupé of elegantly tailored lines and muscular form, with the precise crease of the front wings shaped by Superforming technology. Distinctive large, close-set inner headlamps, ringed by jewel-like LED lights, sit either side of the new chrome grille. At the rear, Bentley's signature 'floating' LED lights draw ones eye to the extremities of the car, emphasising its low, wide stance.
The new V8 features a red enamel winged 'B' badge on the bonnet, boot and wheel centres. For an even more dramatic look there's an exclusive 21" wheel to accentuate the sporting character of the V8.
Traditional crafts of wood, leather and knurled metal are expressed in a crisp and modern design language to capture the sporting, youthful spirit of the V8. Nowhere is this more evident than the new steering wheel, complete with redesigned paddle-shift gear selectors for a more engaging drive. The symmetrical fascia was inspired by the Bentley winged 'B', and features a 'flying buttress' centre stack and open illuminated stowage. The shorter centre console creates extra space in the rear, emphasising the sporting feel of the cockpit. Storage has been redesigned to offer even more space.
The knife-edge crease lines down the front wings of the Continental GT are made using a technique called superforming, where 5083 grade aluminium is heated to 500ºC and shaped around a die using air pressure. No other process enables such a complex panel to be created with such crisp sharp lines and without seams or joins.
Bentley already had expertise in variable displacement technology, where four of the eight cylinders are effectively switched off at gentle throttle openings. That technology now makes its appearance in the new direct injection V8.
When the engine's control microprocessor detects a light throttle opening, it closes the valves on four of the eight cylinders so that they only act as gas springs. This has two immediate benefits: the remaining four cylinders operate at a higher level of efficiency, and the engine's frictional and gas transfer losses are reduced.
As soon as the driver presses the throttle harder the engine instantly switches back to full eight-cylinder operation. Such is the refinement, speed and smoothness of the technology that the engine's effective displacement seamlessly switches from V8 to V4 and back again with imperceptible ease.
A key component of the new V8 powertrain is the new 8-speed transmission. Not only does it deliver faster, smoother gear changes, it also accounts for 6% of the total 40% efficiency gain achieved by the new V8. Having a greater number of ratios ensures that the engine is always working at its most efficient gearing, while drag torque losses have been minimised within the transmission.
Every Bentley Continental features permanent all-wheel drive. Whether you're four-time world rally champion Juha Kankkunen targeting a new world ice speed record, or simply want to accelerate smartly away from the lights on a cold, wet winter's day, the reassuring grip and traction of all-wheel drive is the other essential ingredient in a Bentley's high performance capability
Bentley's V8 engine is astonishing, not just for what it does but also for the way it does it. The power and torque figures of 500 bhp and 660 Nm from 4 litres alone would indicate that the V8 is an advanced high performance engine. But take into consideration that the GT coupé's CO2 emissions are a mere 246 g/km and it's clear that this engine's technology is world-leading. Even though the Bentley develops a full 500 bhp, its power to emissions ratio sets a new benchmark that will take most rivals years to equal.
As for the 'info' in 'infotainment', the effortless touch-screen navigation system includes live traffic data*, online access for point of interest searches*, a 30GB hard disc drive offering rapid access to a continent-full of mapping and even the option of satellite landscape imagery*. As you drive, it provides real time monitoring of your tyre pressures, access to your phone contacts (either via Bluetooth or by inserting your SIM card) and the opportunity to zoom in or out of mapping at the slightest touch of a finger.
* Not available in all markets
The Continental GT Speed Convertible has telephone control with Bluetooth wireless connectivity as standard and WiFi as an option for optimum in-car connectivity.
As standard, the Continental GT V8 comes with an eight channel, eight speaker system, which offers 15 Gigabytes of storage, and can also play music via an iPod, MP3 player, the car's own six-disc CD changer or even an SD card.
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