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.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
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

    Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

    Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

    Early Years Educator

    £68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

    Nursery Nurse

    £69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

    Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

    £117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam