Bentley Continental GTV8

Why the new Bentley GT is all the better for downsizing its engine

Price: £110,000 approx
Engine: 3,993cc, V8 cylinders, 32 valves, twin-turbo, 500bhp
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic gearbox, rear-wheel drive
Performance: Over 180mph, 0-62 in 4.9 seconds, 24.0mpg, CO2 275g/km

If you are wealthy enough to own a Bentley Continental, then your car's consumption of expensive hydrocarbons may be of little concern beyond a distant guilt about burning the Earth's resources and the annoyance of having to stop to refill the tank. Bentleys have big petrol tanks, of course, but that's of limited help when the contents are consumed so rapidly. How would it be, then, if your Continental could travel 40 per cent further on the same-size tank? That would be very convenient when grandly touring in your GT, and the reduced cost would be welcome to anyone. As would the salving of conscience.

The possible problem is that such a Bentley would, surely, lack the effortless pace expected of the marque. Downsizing an engine in the name of efficiency is all very well for the masses, but for a Bentley? Well, let's see.

The familiar Continental has a 6.0 litre, twin-turbo, W12 engine able to produce 567bhp, and is rated at an embarrassing 384g/km CO2. The new car, available as both a GT coupé and GTC convertible, has a 4.0 litre V8, co-developed with Audi, also with twin turbochargers. But adds other cleverness: direct fuel injection and, vitally, the ability to become a V4 when driven gently. The other four cylinders are deactivated by turning off fuel and sparks, and keeping the valves shut.

This V8 produces 500bhp, a figure not far short of the W12's despite the latter's 50 per cent greater capacity. And the V8's CO2 rating is 275g/km – still in the highest tax bracket but in itself an impressive figure for a car so rapid and heavy. It equates to an official average of 24mpg, rather better than the W12 car's 17.1mpg.

The 40 per cent fuel-efficiency improvement isn't just in the official figures. It's achieved in real-world driving, too. Various eco-tricks are used to achieve this, of which the smaller capacity and V4-switch are just two. Other gains come from a new eight-speed automatic gearbox instead of a six-speed, using engine heat to warm the gearbox oil after a cold start, using the alternator to generate electricity only when slowing or braking, better aerodynamics and a small (25kg) weight reduction.

The weight loss and better airflow partly compensate for the small power reduction, so the V8's performance is very close to the W12's. Few would quibble over a 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds (just 0.3 seconds slower) or a top speed of "over 180mph" compared with 198. Any doubt is erased as soon as you drive this new car, anyway, because it is, quite simply, the most enjoyable road car that Bentley has created in living memory.

How so? The engine accounts for much of it, with a fabulous soundtrack in which a deep bass burble is increasingly overlaid by a staccato crackle as the pace rises. It sounds properly powerful and fast, and feels as keen as it sounds, helped by a swift-shifting gearbox. This is a Bentley as a truly sporting car, a rival for an Aston or Ferrari but with much more effortless verve from low engine speeds than either.

But there is more. Bentley is positioning the V8 as a more sporting car, as signalled by a fiercer-looking front and some small changes to the suspension and steering settings. It still rides beautifully on its computer-controlled air suspension, but there's a new crispness and agility which makes it feel two-thirds the weight of its W12 sibling – and it's a joy to experience.

A much more appealing car which uses much less fuel and costs 10 per cent less. A no-brainer, I believe it's called.

Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again say analysts

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

Life and Style
fashion

British supermodel and hitmaker join forces to launch a 'huge song'

News
news

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announce they are set to welcome second child in spring

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually a challenging and nuanced title

Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    KS1 & KS2 Teacher

    £85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Day to Day job opportunities f...

    Primary Teachers needed in Cheshire West

    £85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Day to Day job opportunities f...

    NQT Job Opportunties in Winsford

    £85 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Are you a Newly Qualified Teac...

    Year 3 Teachers needed for supply roles

    £110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

    Day In a Page

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past