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Review (2/2)

New Continental V8 Model Range Complements the Flagship 6.0-Liter W12 GT and GTC

Source: Bentley | Published: Mon Feb 20, 2012

(continued from the previous page)

Contemporary, Sporting Design Character

The new Continental V8 models have all the sculpted, muscular elegance of their W12 stablemates, with their distinctive wide rear track, super formed aluminum wings, powerful haunches and low, poised stance. But a number of key differences distinguish these branches of the Continental family.

One of the most significant differences is also one of the smallest. When it appears on the Mulsanne and the 6.0 W12 Continental models the winged 'B' emblem above the radiator grille has a black enamel background.

On the Continental V8, the enamel is red. It's a distinction that dates right back to the 1920s, where the 'red label' badge appeared upon the company's smaller cars, such as the short-chassis 3 Litre, while black badges were usually reserved for larger-engined models.

Other external distinguishing features are more striking. The radiator grille of the V8 models features gloss black mesh, bordered by a fine chrome surround, in place of the W12 Continental GT's brightwork.

Underneath the grille the lower bumper also features black mesh and is divided by strakes into three distinct segments. The effect, both literally and figuratively, is a Bentley with a darker side to its character; potent, muscular and challenging.

At the rear two eye-catching 'figure eight' exhaust pipes, one each side of a dark lower rear valance, tell those in the know that this Bentley is powered by the advanced, exhilarating and efficient new 4.0 liter V8.

Both the coupe and convertible will be launched with 20-inch wheels as standard and customers will also be able to select from two 21-inch wheel designs especially created for the Continental V8 models. Both these options feature a six-spoke alloy with a strong, sporting theme and are finished in either Diamond Black (exclusive to the Continental V8) or Diamond Silver. Each Bentley 'B' emblem featured on the wheel center caps is also finished in red.

Interior Design

The cockpit of the two Continental V8 models has a correspondingly sporty ambience, featuring a new veneer, Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus, for the fascia and trim. Both the coupe and convertible feature a technical finish Eliade cloth headlining, rather than the leather that is standard in their W12-engined counterparts.

Unlike the full through-console of the W12, the center console simply separates driver and front passenger seats, underscoring the sporting, lean and weight-conscious ethos of the V8 models.

Both the coupe and convertible will be offered with a choice of four single-tone interior hide colors, seven exterior finishes and (in the case of the GTC) three hood colors.

However, owners wishing to access the full palette of 17 exterior finishes, 17 hide colors, up to seven interior duotone color 'splits' and eight hood colors available on the Continental W12, can take this option. This also brings access to the full Bentley range of veneers and a new sporty duotone seat design.

Other optional packages include the Driving Specification, Mulliner Styling Specification, Touring Specification and Convenience Specification. Many, however, will prefer the sporting, focused simplicity of the single-color interior with its contemporary, clean Fiddleback Eucalyptus trim and Eliade cloth headlining.

V8 Engine

The red winged 'B' and black gloss grille provide a strong indicator that a different Bentley powerplant nestles in the engine bay of the Continental GT V8 and its convertible stablemate.

Settle into the supportive cobra-style seats, press the start button, and all is revealed. The new 4.0 liter Bentley engine comes to life with an unmistakable V8 burble: deep, sporty and ready for action.

To achieve the 40 per cent efficiency improvement targeted by Bentley's Board of Directors back in 2008, Bentley's engineering team left no detail unexamined. The reduction in displacement from 6.0 liter W12 to 4.0 liter V8 was the first starting point - but a smaller capacity engine in itself would not have delivered anything close to the ambitious power and emissions targets.

Variable displacement - deactivating cylinders when at a gentle cruising speed or light throttle - was already an area of Bentley expertise. The Bentley Mulsanne's 6.75 liter V8, though similar in format to the original Bentley V8 of 1959, features variable displacement as part of its technologically-advanced specification.

Similar technology now features on the Bentley 4.0 V8: when the engine's control microprocessor detects a light throttle opening as the driver maintains a steady cruising speed or gentle acceleration or deceleration it closes the valves in four of the eight cylinders so that they simply act as air 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.

Another key component of the innovative V8 powertrain is the new close-ratio 8-speed automatic transmission. Not only does it deliver faster, smoother gearshifts, it also accounts for 6 per cent of the total 40 per cent 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 minimized within the transmission.

Bentley Continental GTC V8: Photo Gallery, Review (1/2) and Specifications

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