When I say the Bentley is getting younger, I am not talking the “ageless classic” line! Chances are, you will see “the young businessman of the year” taking the wheels of the new Continental GT V8 rather than a middle-aged magnate. And the secret lies not as much in the sub-million price tag as in the new powerful and conscientious 4.0L twin turbo plant under its hood.

 

 

 

4.0 litre, twin turbocharged V8 engine / 8-speed automatic transmission / 500bhp at 6000 rpm / 660Nm from 1700 to 5000 rpm / Top speed: 290 kmph / 0-100 on Test: 5.2 sec

 

 

 

UPSIDE: Powerful and responsive new engine, Silent cabin, Excellent fuel efficiency, Fun to handle

FLIPSIDE: Space and view compromise for rear passengers, Rearview camera not standard, Contemporary image calls for more gadgetry

The all-wheel drive system employs an advanced Torsen differential with a 40:60 rear biased power split.

THE PRICE: AED 776,000 onwards – available as Continental GT coupé & convertible

Of all the locations I have driven in, I would love to test this GT on the mountain roads of the Dead Sea as it snakes down from the mainland to the coast.

The Drive

The first few furlongs (to sound classically British and Bentley) in the Bentley Continental GT V8 were spend in pure awe of the brand, after which familiarity brought in a gratification that depended solely on driving it, just like any other car. This was one approachable Bentley that quickly put you at ease.

As it rolls out elegantly as well as at settled speeds, the Bentley Continental GT presents itself as a super luxury car, which it indeed is. With its cocooned ride, designed to make up for the imperfections of any road, it can create a distinctive world for the passengers, within its silent cabin. Even on that windy day, all I could hear was the placid power plant, muffled exhaust notes, and the wind lapping at the A pillars.

But it can’t keep this guise for long. Open the throttle and, suddenly, the Continental GT turns into a sports car, which it indeed is. The V8 engine you could hardly hear on cruising flaps its wings with a full-bodied growl that eases into a pure motoring roll, once you skim through the mid cycles. An enormous torque of 660 Nm drives the Continental GT across a rev range of 1700 to 5000 rpm, taking the 500 bhp car from 0 – 100 in 5.2 seconds flat. (DriveME test figure)

Caption: As I drifted past 120kmph, I could see the spoiler rise and salute the elements. It was a thrilling sight, and I was quick to forgive the fact that it slightly compromises on the rear view!

There is an aura of thrill and fun around the Bentley Continental GT V8, like the ride character itself. The option to switch off the traction control adds to it, and then there is the PDC, which may be aptly dubbed as ‘play time dynamic control’ or something like that! However, it is a heavy car and maintains its poise in the face of challenges.

Don’t be daunted by the size of it. Despite its formidable presence, it is a very willing car that hugs the road with the shape and attitude of a sports car. In fact, it whistles along on its 20” wheels, when you try to push it in unforgiving corners and curves – sound effects that add to the excitement.

Drive: For that occasional strip of undulating stretch you might need to cross, the GT also comes with the option to lower or raise itself on air suspensions.

In the Bentley Continental GT V8, the dampers offer three varying settings ranging from sports to comfort. Overall, the spirit of the car is sportive and the ride comfortable. But whichever mode you choose, the road feedback is extremely good.

There is a whole range of tyre options on the screen menu, along with recommended tyre pressures according to the speed at which you plan to drive.

While already at a reasonably high speed, I decided to test what Bentley qualifies as high, and switched the settings accordingly. But as it turned out, someone at Bentley that morning had set the pressure in the 20” tyres for moderately high speeds – 26 in front and 22 at the rear. So, the precise dynamics of the car turned down my request saying, ‘Sorry! There’s not enough air pressure’.  Instead of feeling disappointed, I was impressed. Here is a car that takes care of itself pretty well!

Chromed ‘figure eight’ exhausts, a dark lower valance and red enamel ‘B’ badge mark the contemporary identity of the new V8.

The Design

The Bentley retains its classic touch, sometimes seeming like an oversized Jaguar, but the GT design comes across as almost contemporary. The design of the cabin is such that you get excellent view, along with the rear windscreen. It has a rather large, high placed window line, which affords plenty of privacy to the people inside.

Cabin and Controls

The classic luxury appointments of the Bentley continue inside in the Eliade cloth headlining and the Eucalyptus veneers, while the two-tone leather seats relay a sporty bent. The Bentley wings are emulated inside the cabin as well, with the 2 leather wings flanking the central console.

Yet another classic touch is the buttons that need to be pushed in or pulled out to close or open the air vents, shaped like the air-horns on ancient automobiles.

It could be that the Bentley driver, perhaps, is past his craze for gadgets, because there’s not much in this cabin that one can fiddle around with. The Continental GT has cruise control, but radar cruise control is optional. So is the rearview camera. But the car manages well with amply assisting parking sensors. The music system is pretty good and the navigation, quite responsive. And as for a blind spot monitor, it really doesn’t need one. Yes, there are ventilated and heated seats, seatbelt latches that offer themselves on a platter as you settle in, and other things that you would expect in a Bentley.

By the way, for trivia sake, the analogue dashboard clock of the Bentley is a Breitling.

Family Drive

The Bentley GT V8 coupe version doesn’t afford much space to the rear passengers but, unsurprisingly, the seats were comfortable enough to keep them from complaining. There are no handgrips at the back but on a normal drive, unless you push it really hard, the heavy car doesn’t show much of a body lean.

The boot space, while it doesn’t look much, was actually good to accommodate our large-sized pram, though we had to try a couple of angles before it fit. On the contrary, accessing the rear seats involved less trouble, especially when compared with the third rows of luxury SUVs or similar coupes, thanks to the generous back and forth movement of the front seat. Still, this makes the GT more of a driver’s coupe than a family car. To borrow a metaphor, the camel will go through the eye of the needle before a millionaire squeezes into that rear space!

For most part, the choice of materials live up to Bentley benchmarks, even though this is the most affordable Bentley ever!

Now, for all those times I have been bugged by compulsively alert passengers, a word to the backseat drivers: you can forget your hobby in the new Bentley GT. There is absolutely nothing ahead of you to warn about or comment on, except those luxurious front seats that rise like an uninterrupted wall of leather.

The welcome dose of privacy in the cabin of the Bentley GT V8 Coupe also comes with a price. The rear passengers are linked to the outside world only through the quarter glass like rear windows. By the way, they do wind down, just to bring in some fresh air occasionally.

The Essential Bentley Continental GT V8

The new V8 is also shared by the Audi S8 and the S6, but in the Bentley Continental GT, it gains even more power and classier manners. As in the Audi S editions, the innovative V8 technology allows a super-smooth transition to four-cylinder power during calmer drives, substantially adding to fuel efficiency and reducing emissions.

They call it the entry, entry level Bentley with its downsized engine added to the fabled 6.0 L W12.

There are 2 obvious reasons for me to like it. One, if I ever were to aim for a Bentley, at just above three quarters of a million dirhams, this one could probably advance my plans by a couple of years! And the second thing: among luxury sedans or coupes, this is perhaps the sportiest with a definite propensity to please the driver than the backseat passengers. Oh, did I say sportiest? May be it is time I drove the Bentley GT Speed.

Drive Courtesy: Bentley Emirates
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy

Bentley Continental GT V8: Reverse Aging was last modified: December 27th, 2016 by Sudeep Koshy

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