Is Bentley testing a hardcore Continental GT V8?

bentley continental gt v8 hot 2 Is Bentley testing a hardcore Continental GT V8?

The Bentley Continental GT V8 is a darn good car. The GT V8 S, even more so. It’s only logical, then that an even hotter Conti GT would be commensurately better. At least, we’re hoping that’s what the minds at Bentley’s Crewe, UK headquarters were thinking when they dispatched this bewinged GT V8 to the Nürburgring.

This Conti GT stands out not only because of its wing, but because of its improved aerodynamics as a whole. A new front fascia, complete with a body-color lip spoiler is the big visual takeaway of this car’s sportier intensions, while our spies claim this white whale rides on a lowered, firmer suspension.

The real question about this car has to do with its powerplant, though. What’s under hood? The GT V8 S returns an impressive 521 horsepower while the base Conti W12 churns out 567 ponies, meaning there isn’t a lot of wiggle room between what is currently the priciest V8 model and the cheapest twelve-cylinder car. The 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8, though, is certainly capable of handling more than 521 hp, as Audi uses a 560-hp variant in the RS7. Our spies, meanwhile, suggest that this may merely be an even lighter version of the GT V8 S – maybe like an RS model – that is lighter and stiffer, but no more powerful.

It’s really anyone’s guess as to what Bentley is up to. Here’s hoping we find out soon, though. Take a look up top for our gallery of images from the Nürburgring, and then hop down below into Comments and let us know what you think Bentley is playing at.

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Bentley shows plug-in hybrid concept ahead of Beijing, will power SUV in 2017


• Bentley to introduce plug-in hybrid technology to the luxury market
• Additional performance and efficiency without compromise to luxury
• Bentley Hybrid Concept showcases the technology in flagship Mulsanne
• First application of hybrid power available in 2017 in the Bentley SUV

(Crewe, England. 9, April 2014) Bentley is envisioning a powerful and even more efficient Future with the Bentley Hybrid Concept – a technology showcase that previews Bentley’s first plug-in hybrid model, set to be a dedicated version of the all-new SUV available in 2017. The Bentley Hybrid Concept will be on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition on Sunday 2Qch April.

As the first luxury brand to present a plug-in hybrid, Bentley leads the way in bringing new powertrain choice to the luxury automotive sector. Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors, comments:

“There is no doubt that plug-in hybrid technology is true to Bentley’s values of outstanding luxury and effortless performance. Combining our renowned engines with electric power reinforces and enhances both principles, and so we will gradually introduce this powertrain across our model range. By the end of the decade, at least 90% of our production will be available as a plug-in hybrid. We are proud to be pioneering these developments in the luxury sector.”

The Bentley Plug-in Hybrid System
Through Bentley’s hybrid system, customers will have a wider choice of modern, powerful and efficient powertrains. The plug-in hybrid system will offer a power increase of up to 25% together with a 70% reduction in C02 emissions, both without any compromise to the exquisite luxury, timeless design and industry-leading refinement for which Bentley has become renowned. Bentley hybrids will also be capable of driving at least 50 km on electric power alone, allowing for emissions-free city driving with the option of enhanced performance on the open road.

The Bentley Hybrid Concept
The Bentley Hybrid Concept is based on the flagship model in the Bentley family, the Mulsanne, to show that hybrid technology enhances even the pinnacle of luxury and performance. Copper is used as an exterior and interior styling element to highlight the car’s electrical veins, including copper details to the headlamps, radiator shell bezel, brake calipers, feature line details and badges. Copper accents continue in the cabin, with inserts to the hand-crafted veneers fascias, switch bezels and instruments. Copper cross-stitching to the Mulliner Driving Specification diamond-quilted interior provides the Finishing flourish.

Beijing International Automotive Exhibition
The Bentley Hybrid Concept is joined on the new Bentley show stand in Beijing on 20th April by three other members of the road-car family. The new Flying Spur V8 makes its Chinese debut, as a new member of the already- renowned Flying Spur family capable of over 500 miles on a tank of fuel. The new and enhanced 206 mph (33 1 km/h) Continental GT Speed – the fastest production Bentley ever, with 635 PS and 820 Nm of torque – also makes its Far East debut, along with the new Continental GT V8 S.

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Bentley designing SUV to reach 200 mph?

exp9f Bentley designing SUV to reach 200 mph?

The 200 MPH Club was once populated entirely by exotic sports cars. These days it has expanded to include convertibles, sedans and even station wagons. But an SUV? Unthinkable, what with their aerodynamic profile approaching that of a barn door. Bentley, however, is out to change that with its forthcoming new sport ute.

Not only is the British automaker aiming to make its first SUV fully capable off road, it’s also engineering it to be one of the fastest on the road as well. According to emerging reports coming in from the UK, Bentley is streamlining the SUV’s shape with a lower roofline and reprofiled rear end and fitting it with advanced underbody aerodynamic aids in order to compensate for its over-six-foot width and get it up to the magic 200-mph mark.

Reaching out to Bentley for comment, its communications office wouldn’t divulge such performance targets: “The SUV is in the engineering development stage, so unfortunately it’s too soon to discuss performance figures,” we were told via email. “It will of course have all the power and performance that one would expect from a Bentley!” If the information proves correct, however, at that speed, it would be able to keep pace with the faster members of the Continental family, but leave the Mulsanne flagship sedan (which is already approaching the size of an SUV) and its 185-mph top speed in the dust – not to mention the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S that is quoted at “only” 175 mph.

Of course it’ll take more than just clever aero to get the SUV up to those speeds, which makes us think that, while there has been talk of V8, diesel and even hybrid power, Bentley will, in the end, offer the vehicle with the most powerful version of its W12 engine as well. And when it does, it will fulfill Ettore Bugatti’s suddenly prophetic characterization of Bentley as producing “the world’s fastest lorries.”

Related GalleryBentley EXP 9 F concept
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Bentley shifting W12 engine production to UK

W12Engine3 2 Bentley shifting W12 engine production to UK

Who would you think would be the largest producer of 12-cylinder engines in the world? Mercedes? BMW? Ferrari? Think again: as you might have guessed from the headline, it’s Bentley. The thing is that, while all Bentley automobiles are manufactured in the UK, its engines aren’t: while the 6.75-liter V8 in the Mulsanne is made at home, the innovative 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine in Continental models so equipped (like the newer 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8) is shipped in from Germany. But that won’t be the case any longer.

Bentley has just announced that production of the W12 engine is moving to its home base in Crewe by the end of this year. The shift in production (which follows the migration of the Flying Spur from Dresden to Crewe in 2007) will create 100 jobs in the UK – a country which employs some 142,000 workers in the automotive sector – and produce as many as 9,000 engines per year. That in and of itself would account for the vast majority of the 10,000-plus cars Bentley made last year, but will also make Bentley an exporter of engines for the first time in its history.

Right there at the factory, Bentley will fit the engines into twelve-cylinder versions of the Continental GT, GTC and Flying Spur, and send some back to Germany for use in the Audi A8. Applications within the Volkswagen brand itself like the Phaeton and Touareg no longer use the W12 engine, but could conceivably use it again in the future – they’ll just have to bring them in from England is all.


- Bentley to become centre of excellence for W12 engines
- Bentley to export engines for the first time in its history
- 100 jobs across the business to be created

(Crewe/London, 19 March 2014) Bentley has firmly reinforced its position as the world’s largest producer of 12 cylinder engines after announcing its Crewe headquarters will become the centre of excellence for the Volkswagen Group for all W12 engine production from the end of 2014 onwards. With this decision, Bentley will export engines for the first time in its history, creating around 100 jobs across the business.

Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors, said: “This is an important step, not just for Bentley but also for the UK manufacturing sector. This W12 centre of excellence is recognition of the long standing engine manufacturing expertise we have that has resulted in performance improvements across the model ranges over recent years. The production of this advanced engine and its future generations will bring new technologies and skills to Crewe.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Our world beating car industry employs 142,000 people in the UK and is worth £11.2 billion to our economy.

“With more than four out of every five cars made in the UK exported to the rest of the world, the news that Bentley will now export engines as well is another feather in their cap. The Government’s Industrial Strategy is supporting world-class companies like Bentley to create highly skilled long term jobs and promote exports.”

The W12 engine is an advanced 12 cylinder high performance engine in a unique ‘W’ configuration. The engine offers high levels of power and torque. Bentley expects to produce up to 9,000 engines per year at peak times.

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Bentley teases restyled production SUV

BentleySUV Bentley teases restyled production SUV

Bentley insists that customers responded positively, but journalists weren’t particularly enamored with the EXP 9 F concept when it was unveiled two years ago at the Geneva Motor Show. And so it went back to the drawing board, honing the design to make it more pleasing to the eye.

The production model won’t hit the road until 2016, but at its annual shareholders meeting today in London, the British automaker revealed the first image of the finished design – or at least the front end, which was arguably the most controversial element of the design in the first place.

The rendering, as you can see above, is highly stylized and obscured by flying sand (as many customer examples are likely to be in the dunes of the Middle East). But from what we can see, it appears that Bentley has moved the secondary headlights from below the primary ones to beside them. It’s hard to tell, but it appears that their place on the edges of the front bumper have been replaced by air vents, giving it an altogether Continental-like front end. The shape of the grille, hood, fenders and greenhouse otherwise appear similar to the EXP 9 F we’ve already seen, though the air dam appears taller than the concept’s.

There’s still plenty more we’ll need to know about Bentley’s first production SUV (not counting those bespoke models it made for the Sultan of Brunei) before the first of the 3,000 examples it expects to sell annually reach showrooms, but there’s still plenty of time to go, as well. Crewe still has yet to announce the name, but the F in the EXP 9 F moniker that adorned the concept was said to stand for Falcon.


(Crewe/London, 19 March 2014) Bentley Motors today releases the first picture of the Bentley SUV, due to hit roads in 2016.

It will be the most luxurious and powerful SUV on the market, setting it apart from any other SUV, true to the brand hallmarks of luxury, performance, quality and craftsmanship.

Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, Chairman and Chief Executive at Bentley Motors, commenting at a press conference in London, said: “It will create a completely new segment in the SUV market.”

The SUV forms part of Bentley’s £800 million investment in new model and facilities development in the next three years. The company anticipates a minimum annual sales volume of 3000 SUVs.

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Baby Bentley studied for 2020, but it might not be cheaper

 Baby Bentley studied for 2020, but it might not be cheaper

Bentley may step down a segment with a new, smaller luxury car that it hopes to have ready by 2019. The British luxury marque’s fifth model line, assuming that its SUV ever makes it to market, though, is still in the earliest planning stages.

Kevin Rose, Bentley’s head of sales and marketing, spoke with Autocar at the Geneva Motor Show about the proposed new vehicle. “At the moment, our line of thinking is for a smaller car. But smaller doesn’t necessarily mean cheaper,” he said. The brand believes the price floor of its models should be 100,000 pounds ($167,240).

The smaller Flying B isn’t the only project being worked on. Rose hinted that it is considering an even more expensive model above the Mulsanne priced at around 300,000 pounds ($501,735) that would compete with the Rolls-Royce Phantom. “The twin pillars of the Bentley brand are performance and luxuriousness. Any car that offers something unique, with both of those bases well covered, is on the table,” he said.

Regardless of whether either of them ever gets built, Rose indicated that new generations of the Continental GT and Flying Spur are currently in development, and they will be the first to debut.

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Bentley bringing Flying Spur V8, upgraded Continental GT Speed to Geneva


- Styling enhancements and even more power for flagship Continental GT Speed as the fastest production Bentley ever
- Luxury tailored packages introduced across Continental family
- New Flying Spur luxury sedan attracts new customers with V8 power
- New GT Speed and Flying Spur V8 debut at Geneva Motor Show 2014

(Crewe, England. 25 February 2014) Bentley announces a suite of luxury options and specification updates to its Continental family of luxury Grand Tourers, led by enhancements to the styling, power, torque and performance of the pinnacle Continental GT Speed. Meanwhile, the new Flying Spur luxury sedan is now available with Bentley’s powerful yet efficient 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 engine, introducing the appeal of this luxury sedan to a wider premium audience. These new models will be unveiled as part of Bentley’s presence at the Geneva Motor Show from 4th March 2014.

Enhanced power and style for Continental GT Speed

The capabilities of Bentley’s flagship Grand Tourer, the Continental GT Speed are cemented further in 2014 with enhancements to its supercar performance and unrivalled refinement.

Bentley’s iconic 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 engine has been pushed even further, now developing 635 PS (626 bhp / 467 kW) and a record 820 Nm of torque. The new Bentley GT Speed coupe reaches a top speed of 206 mph (331 km/h) – the fastest production Bentley ever – while the revised convertible can reach 203 mph (327 km/h). With its Speed chassis setup of a lowered and stiffened suspension, the most powerful car in the Continental family offers the most high performance and luxurious Grand Touring experience.

The extra dynamic performance of the Continental flagship model is complemented by a more distinctive visual presence. The sharp front splitter, discrete side skirts and elegant rear diffuser are finished to match the exterior paint colour for the first time. The new GT Speed is given a more signature look through the use of a dark tint finish applied to the 21″ Speed wheel design, headlamps and tail lamps. The exterior modifications are completed with red-painted brake callipers and a stylish chrome “Speed” badge fitted to the front fenders, while a new signature Speed paint colour of Candy Red is now available.

The visual changes continue inside the cabin of the GT Speed, starting with a completely new colour split reserved exclusively for the Speed models. Starting with a dark monotone interior, accent stripes in a contrasting colour are applied across the doors, rear panels, fascia wings, inner console and gear lever. Matching contrasting stitching is then sewn to various aspects of the cabin, with a new cost option to continue contrast stitching through the diamond quilting of the seats and doors. Speed branding is also sewn to the front and rear headrests, while a subtle yet elegant chrome “Speed” badge adorns the passenger side
fascia panel.

2014 enhances luxury in the Continental family

Alongside the launch of the new Speed models, 2014 also brings enhancements across the entire Continental family. While options are still offered on an individual basis, seven distinct packages are now available:

- Premier Specification: enhances the cabin of the Continental with additional technology and comfort. It includes massaging and ventilated seats, the Naim for Bentley premium audio system, a rear view camera, twin front arm rests and a valet key.
- Interior Style Specification: combines the very best of Bentley hand?craftsmanship for the ultimate tailored cabin. Includes contrast stitching to the entire cabin, whilst deep pile overmats are included and feature contrasting leather binding. Including the optional cross?stitching element brings unparalleled attention to detail, with 37 hours of additional crafting and over 600 metres of thread.
- GT Classic Specification: Available for GT W12 model and enhancing traditional styling cues, including bright chrome front matrix grilles, veneered door and rear quarter panels, boot carpet matched to the interior and the hand-crafted stowage case complimenting the centre console finish.
- All-Seasons Specification: makes the Continental Convertible models even more comfortable when driving roof-down in cooler temperatures. It includes the in-seat neck warmers, removable wind deflector and a heated steering wheel.
- Mulliner Driving Specification: available on all Continental models, this package brings a sporting set of features to the specification, including diamond quilting to seats and doors, a knurled gear lever, drilled alloy foot pedals and the “Jewel” fuel and oil filler caps.
- GT V8 S Sport Specification: includes Carbon-Ceramic brakes with red-painted callipers, a Sports exhaust and carbon fibre fascia panels.
- Classic Mulliner Styling Specification: Available for GT W12 and GT Speed models, this accentuates the elegant shape of the Continental with a front splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser all in carbon fibre.
Deliveries of the new Continental family models commence in the summer.

An introduction to the world’s best luxury sedan

A new V8 powertrain is being introduced to the Bentley Flying Spur, giving customers the option of a new interpretation of this luxury sedan. Complementing the Flying Spur flagship W12 model, the V8 sedan provides the opportunity to experience the Flying Spur’s unique blend of sculpted, sleek coachwork, exquisite craftsmanship and advanced on-board technology. The Flying Spur V8 will draw new customers to Bentley, looking to upgrade from a premium sedan.

Bentley’s renowned 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 engine develops 507 PS (500 bhp / 373 kW) and 660 Nm, powering the Flying Spur V8 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds (0-100 km/h in 5.2 seconds) and on to a top speed of 183 mph (295 km/h). This impressive performance comes with a fuel range of 520 miles (840 km), thanks to the highly efficient engine that includes cylinder deactivation, intelligent thermal management and electrical recuperation.

As in the Flying Spur W12, the engine feeds power through a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission to a continuous all-wheel drive system that provides reassuring stability and traction in all road and weather conditions. With ride comfort of vital importance, the independent computer-controlled air suspension of the Flying Spur V8 maximises impact absorption and isolation.

Subtle styling differentiates the Flying Spur V8 from its flagship W12 sibling. Figure of eight chromed exhaust finishers signify the alternative powertrain, while the famous Bentley winged badge receives the usual red centre to denote the V8 engine. The front bumper grilles are finished in black, with a black “wing” insert.

The Flying Spur V8 comes complete with a suite of on-board technology to make it an ideal place for work or relaxation on the move. An innovative Touch Screen Remote, deployed from the veneered rear centre console at the touch of a button, allows control of the car’s climate and infotainment systems from the comfort of the rear seat, while the optional Multimedia Specification brings an extensive Rear Seat Entertainment system.

The Flying Spur V8 has a monotone interior colour split, Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus wood veneer, a single-piece three-person rear seat, single front armrest, 19″ Classic alloy wheels in a painted finish and a choice of seven exterior paints and four interior colours.

Customers wishing to upgrade their Flying Spur V8 can opt for the Flying Spur V8 Mulliner. The Mulliner Driving Specification adds diamond quilting, a knurled gear lever, drilled alloy pedals, an indented leather headlining, “Jewel” fuel and oil filler caps and embroidered Bentley wings to all headrests. 20-inch five-spoke painted alloy wheels are fitted as standard, as is the 4+1 rear seat system including fully adjustable seats with lumbar support and seat heating. The standard veneer range is extended to include luxurious Dark Stained Burr Walnut and Piano Black finishes, while the full range of 17 hide colours and four additional colour splits is available.

Customer deliveries of the new Flying Spur V8 will commence in the spring.

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2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S

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“Beluga” gloss black on the mirrors, side skirts and rear diffuser are telltales of that which lurks inside.

Of course the Conti GT has been updating the Bentley idiom since 2003, with this, the second generation of the car, already pushing three years on the market. And while the W12-powered GT Speed still lords atop the line, the V8 model that was introduced last year has become company’s new volume seller. Fully 51 percent of Continental GT’s sold have the V8 engine option, and that split is expected to be even more dramatic when deliveries of this V8 S version start to roll out over the next few months.

When they do start to make their way into public hands, it’ll take a fairly keen eye to spot the V8 S from distance (especially considering the rarity of a Bentley sighting at all). Model-specific badges are the obvious giveaway, and “Beluga” gloss black on the mirrors, side skirts and rear diffuser are the other telltales of that which lurks inside.

I hardly need to mention that the Continental GT’s interior compartment is lush – tastefully decorated with materials that feel substantial and refined. Metal and leather touch points are impeccable; the duo-tone leather-trimmed seats a rare amalgamation of cushiony and supportive. The V8 S trim makes itself known from other Conti GT’s by way of a contrasting center stripe on the header that matches whichever of the 17 hues of hide you’ve selected as your main. Kick plates reading “V8 S” are another easy hint. The less said about the ‘vintage Volkswagen’ feel of the navigation/infotainment system the better, I suppose, but that really is the lone dim spot in an otherwise brilliantly executed coupe cabin. It seems implausible that an interior can feel ‘worth’ $200,000-plus, but Bentley gets away with it here.

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The difference of one letter in a model designation makes a healthy difference in the Bentley catalog.

As is the case so often in the motoring world, the difference of one letter in a model designation makes a healthy difference in the Bentley catalog. Here, the “S” following the engine configuration represents output figures of 521 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque from the twin-turbo 4.0-liter mill; up meaningfully from the 500 hp and 487 lb-ft of the base V8 model. Connected to an aggressively sporting eight-speed automatic transmission, that also means the V8 S coupe’s 0-60 time drops to 4.3 seconds (down from the V8′s 4.6 seconds), while top speed climbs to 192 mph (versus 188 mph). Impressively, the added power from the S engine doesn’t affect overall fuel economy, with ratings of 15 miles per gallon city and 24 highway holding steady. Not that gas mileage is a pressing concern in this rarified space.

The preceding paragraph comes off as almost rather hollow after having driven the V8 S, as that bloodless list of statistics has about as much in common with the character of the engine as a Sex Ed. does with sex. Keep reading and you’ll understand that the Continental GT V8 S is a flawed machine, but you should know up front that none of that has anything to do with this new motor.

My driving partner (the inimitable Bengt Halvorson) was game for a few full-throttle launches, so I can write the following with confidence: the turbo’d V8 has virtually no punch under 1,500 rpm from a standing start. That lag was no bad thing however, as it gave me a fraction of a second to gulp some air before the Bentley engine sucked the remaining oxygen out of the immediate vicinity. A doubly helpful breath as the resultant explosion forward threatened to collapse my lungs in my chest. This is a quick car.

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Power delivery from the engine’s 1,700-rpm torque peak thru the 6,000-rpm horsepower peak is simply colossal. Routed continuously to all four wheels – with a 40/60 front/rear torque split – the thrust from the engine far outlasted my willingness to explore the higher reaches of its three-digit zones. The Bentley also offers up a complex and genuinely spirited soundtrack to accompany the powerplant. At a full-go, this V8 sings a rising, strident note through the exhaust system (the optional sport exhaust in this case), while subtle wastegate gulps accompany every fevered upshift.

A near-200-mph car that weights as much or more as a Ford F-150. I’ll take the biggest brakes you have, thanks.

Retarding this force-of-nature power is quite a substantial set of brakes – thank God. Even the standard GT V8 S brakes are massive: nearly 16-inch (405-mm) ventilated steel discs in the front and 13.2-inch (335-mm) units out back. My GT coupe was equipped with those ‘base’ stoppers, and they still grabbed with confidence after 170-plus miles of hard driving. Should you require yet more restraining force, Bentley will also be happy to sell you a braking system with cross-drilled carbon silicon carbide discs that are larger still. In fact, Bentley told us that the 16.5-inch (420-mm) carbon brakes are amongst the largest diameter discs on any production car in the world. As a $13,875 option, they’d better be.

Bentley engineers aren’t simply hunting superlatives by specifying such giant brakes; they know that it takes an awful lot of power to reliably haul down a car this heavy from silly speeds. The company lists a dry curb weight of 5,060 pounds for the V8 S coupe (that number jumps to a gobsmacking 5,445 lbs for the convertible), which doesn’t include any fluids or account for the weight of a driver. Add in all system fluids, a 24-gallon tank full of gasoline and a couple of extra-tall car writers, and you’re talking about a near-200-mph car that weights as much or more as a Ford F-150. I’ll take the biggest brakes you have, thanks.

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The S car is lower, firmer and stiffer, thanks to beefed up antiroll bars and starchier bushings.

All that bulk has an obvious impact on the GT’s handling, as well, though the V8 S has some advantages on that front. The fundaments of the chassis are the same here as with the base V8 – aluminum double wishbone suspension up front, trapezoidal multi-link suspension in back, with a self-leveling air bag setup that offers continuous, infinitely variable damping. However, the S car is lower, firmer and stiffer, thanks to beefed up antiroll bars and starchier bushings. Bentley has also retuned the steering system, the damping control and the stability control in an effort to give the V8 S added capacity for really aggressive driving.

With the five-way air suspension control selecting the very firmest Sport mode, the net result of the chassis tuning is a car that occasionally pulls one over on physics.There were dozens of versions of the same gracefully arcing, fantastically long turns on the route I took through the desert, all of which showed off the Continental GT in its very best light. Its AWD system afforded supreme grip on high-speed corners, and the firmed-up underpinnings betrayed precious little evidence of strain or squirm. Put a thousand quarter-mile sweepers in front of this GT, and it’ll dispatch the last one while the driver asks politely a thousand more. On any open road, be it a desert-crossing two-lane or an autobahn, the V8 S’ combination of civility and athleticism creates a near ideal environment.

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Trick air suspension and stiffer chassis … couldn’t really hide the Bentley’s bulk on twisting mountain passes.

Our route into Palm Springs (the halfway point of our day of driving) took me up and over the mountains that surround the Coachella Valley. Usually mountain roads make up the most entertaining section of any test drive, but this set showed the dynamic weaknesses of the V8 S in stark contrast to meandering section I’d just completed. The trick air suspension and stiffer chassis may perform near-miracles in many driving environments, but even they couldn’t really hide the Bentley’s bulk on the twisting mountain passes. Moving too quickly through switchbacks made the stately prow push wide if I entered a tight corner with too much speed, and, despite clever turn-in, the faint-feedback steering proved an awkward thing for diving from corner to corner.

What’s more, it was on the tightly wound roads that I first started lamenting the difficult to reach paddle shifters – presented uncooperatively on long stalks that originate on the steering column. Truth be told, the titanic torque of the engine would have allowed me to drive these sections of winding road in second or third gear if I’d wanted, but any joy of switching up and down was damped by the badly designed paddles. Luckily, the knurled chrome gearshift lever, though clunkier than a good set of flappy paddles, felt so good under hand that I blithely ignored the stalks for the rest of the trip. (That is, when I wasn’t mistaking them for the turn signal…)

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The coupe I tested wore an as-tested price of $231,690 … it might as well carry an MSRP of “If you have to ask…”

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this latest Continental GT isn’t exactly a dancer on backroads – it shouldn’t matter much in terms of sales volume, either. Not only will the machine offer great composure on most typical North American roads, it will flatter its driver with technologically derived poise while doing so. That mode of operation, along with fabulous materials, build quality, and lovely design, make the V8 S a very special car even if it isn’t a razor-like driver’s tool.

Depending on where you grew up, where you went to school, how many accountants you employ, your personal garage-door count and other mitigating factors; cars wearing the Bentley B have either multitudes of competitors or none at all. The coupe I tested wore an as-tested price of $231,690 over a base of $196,500, which means it might as well carry an MSRP of “If you have to ask…” Of course, there are cars of similar capability that cost far less money – the BMW M6 and Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG both seem like screaming bargains in contrast. But vehicles of this ilk make their way not on comparative data, but on the propulsion of lust, or the ineffable qualities that only a long history and Englishness can bestow. If you can have one, and want it, somehow nothing else will do.

Objectively, even from my perspective clouded by a sensible upbringing and paycheck, I see the Continental GT V8 S as the perfect fulfillment of the goals set out for it by Bentley. It’s truly a grand car when driven on a grand scale.

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