The Bentley GT V8
Right – cards on the table now. I’m not going to mention footballers in this review, as it’s a cliché put about by the tabloid press and in my opinion, totally unfitting to the car I am about to unveil to you.
There is an old saying: “you can’t buy good taste.” Observing via the same scummy tabloid press the sort of antics that new lottery winners get up to with their newfound wealth tends to prove this right. Fortunately I am 100% certain that such people would totally overlook a car like the Bentley GT V8, opting instead perhaps for a stretch white limo with a swimming pool inside, or a neon pink Rolls Royce.
The Bentley GT V8 has to be one of the most stylish and un-vulgar luxury cars I’ve ever had the privilege to witness; indeed it exudes class from every pore. As insideKENTS‘s Adam Ready rolled up in it outside my shop, my initial thought was ‘Oh dear, I’m a bit scruffy today!’
Well, I may not be a smart man, but I know what style is. The outer design of the V8 is stylishly minimalistic – you won’t find over-branding here. There is no inference of a need to brag on every available surface with spec badges boasting engine size/type or overused logos on this car.
A simple red button ‘B’ logo on the bonnet, boot and wheels is all the classification the V8 needs. Other than that it looks like a piece of sculpted shimmering black metal resting perfectly on four magnificently huge 20″ alloy wheels, and finished off with two elegant figure-8 exhausts. Nothing out of place, nothing overstated; nonetheless when you behold this car, you will gasp in awe and wonder. It is truly beautiful.
But this car is more than just looks. It’s really, really, very clever too.
Your attention is first drawn to this fact when you stick your thumb over the sensor on the door handle and are given access to a wondrous interior. As you sit back in the plush black leather seat (taking a moment to sigh in delight at how comfortable it is and how beautiful the dashboards and panels are) your attention is drawn to a gentle whirring just behind you ear, as the car quite literally hands you a seatbelt. It reminded me a little of Tony Stark’s robotic devices for putting on his Iron Man suit. In effect, the Bentley is telling you politely but firmly to ‘suit up!’ – an ingenious safety feature indeed and far preferable to an annoying beep and flashing dashboard light.
As well as its stunning Contrast Portland stitching and black leather, each front chair also has an array of controls to ensure your maximum comfort, and even includes a massage feature, so you don’t have to waste time and money sitting in one of those coffee-stained faux-leather chairs at Maidstone service station. It’s amazing to think just how much effort and development Bentley must have put into developing this feature, which works incredibly well.
Behind the scenes engineering in the V8 is just as intelligent. Developed in collaboration with Audi, this car is 40% more efficient on fuel that its bulkier W12 predecessor, and yet manages to be almost as fast (top speed of around 190mph) and nearly as powerful. One of the key factors in this miraculous efficiency, which results in an impressive 27mpg, is the cylinder deactivation tech, which means that when the V8 is cruising with a light load on the engine, four of its eight cylinders are effectively switched off until required. This process is so well implemented, to be honest it’s practically impossible to notice.
Some may wonder why somebody who could afford a car costing £142,531.19 (on the road) would care about fuel consumption. I would suggest that somebody with the good taste and good sense to buy the V8 decides so to do with head and heart. Besides, who wants to get out of such a great car, just to buy more petrol. Less stops, more driving. Works for me!
And then there’s the noise…oh boy – I have to tell you about the noise.
It’s true to say that the V8 boasts a fantastic sound system, delivered via a very ergonomic 8-inch digital screen, and with speakers smartly positioned and configured to ensure that music is delivered perfectly. Any audiophile will be best pleased with what is offered.
Though both Adam and I are big music fans, we ended up switching the radio off. Quite frankly, its V8 twin-turbo 4.0-litre engine was playing far better tunes. A symphony of low-end explosions and roars imitating a beast under the bonnet, whilst at the top end its harmonious screams of power and precision delivered an epic movie soundtrack as it thundered down the road, leaving us in awe but yet with no concept of the immense acceleration it boasted as it went from 0-60mph in under 5 seconds.
As we drove the rickety tracks into Dungeness, the Bentley felt as if it was riding over the bumps and potholes on a cushion of air. In most mortal cars, any sort of enthusiastic driving over such a surface would surely result in total disintegration, similar to the clown cars you get in the circus big top show. But the Bentley seemed entirely unbothered as it roared its mighty engine roar and flew along the track.
When conjuring up a Bentley in my mind, I always have in my mind a giant chauffeur-driven car designed to cruise in straight lines, but as usual, my somewhat blinkered stereotype was way out, and this Bentley handled like a dream. With a sharp turn-in and excellent feedback through the steering, the V8 is well balanced indeed, and far less nose-heavy than some of its larger relatives, resulting in a car that you won’t want to ride in the back of, but will insist on driving yourself.
The ride and handling of the V8 can of course be played with and carefully configured via the central touch-screen console, adding even more driving versatility and comfort.
Set against the bleak desolation of the Dungeness coast, the Bentley seemed more than ever to radiate power, reliability and elegance. Cars as magnificent as this serve as a beacon of hope that even in the stormy times we live in, those of great and rapid change, and uncertainty, some things will always remain constant and faithful. The Bentley V8 is a very modern and entirely relevant take on a legendary car that has been the benchmark of class and style for almost a century. It does its heritage proud and I am certain the legend will continue for many years to come.
words and photos by Luke Yates
Bentley GT V8 finished in Onyx Black with Black Leather Interior
Price: £142,531.19 on the road
Top speed: 188MPH
Economy: Combined 26.9MPG
Engine: 3,993CC, 8-speed automatic, continuous all-wheel drive
Torque: 500BHP @ 6,000RPM / 487LB-FT @ 1,700RPM
92 London Road