The Bentley Continental GT V8 S
words and photos by Luke Yates
The Bentley is quintessentially British. Like serving proper tea in proper cups. To know and love Bentley, is to know and love everything that is wonderful and impressive about our fair isle.
The original Continental GT Convertible was an amazing car, well received by all, and a true testimony to the brilliance of Bentley. But the S version we road tested takes this brilliance – to put it in rock ‘n’ roll Spinal Tap terminology – at least one louder.
My initial encounter with the GT V8S was magical to say the least. I had arranged to meet insideKENT’s Adam Ready at the wonderful Clifftop Café in Capel-le-Ferne. Suffice to say my anticipation levels for my meeting with this legendary motoring giant (the car, not Adam) were high.
As I drove into the car park, it was like a particularly surreal moment from a romantic fiction directed by J.J. Abrams. Suddenly I could hear overdriven electric rock harps playing melodiously. Everything else became blurred as the only thing my astounded eyes were able to focus on was the magnificent black shiny convertible sitting on the clifftop, gazing out to sea, gleaming brilliantly, and looking for all the world how I supposed a car version of Batman might appear. What other words could form in my mind and on my lips than “Wow – what a car!” Four simple words, that without a doubt, sum up the GT V8S perfectly.
Kitted out in majestic onyx paint, with a dark and sumptuous Beluga leather interior with contrasting white stitching on the seats and wheels; chunky 20″ allow wheels sporting stunning red brake calipers; dark tinted front and rear lights; and embossed proudly with ‘Bentley’ for all to see, you can tell straight away there is nothing shy and retiring about this car. To see such a sleek, elegant body sitting low on the road on such magnificent wheels gives the GT V8S a fast and dangerous look, whilst also retaining a cool, icy British reserve, taking it forward in my mind from Batman, to Bond (which is never a bad thing!).
Climbing into the car, you are rewarded with immense comfort, and a more than generous array of gadgetry, brilliantly designed to afford all the latest tech, but in a way very much in keeping with Bentley’s class and heritage. Our model had a rear camera, very handy when manoeuvring into a trick spot and retaining one’s laid-back demeanour (there could surely be no more heart-stoppingly awful crime than dinging a Bentley in a supermarket car park, after all).
The Bentley has a great sound system, which continues to deliver most impressive noises with the roof down. But to be honest, the sound from that immense 4-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine, renders it almost pointless. Yielding a staggering 521bhp, taking you from 0-60 in just 4.3 seconds (whilst causing your face to distort wickedly as you simultaneous grin inanely and allow your jaw to drop into your lap at the same time), and with a top speed of 191mph, the cherry on top of all this scrummy motoring cakeyness is the intoxicating cacophony of noises that utter viscerally from within, rendering the driver and anyone else blessed enough to experience it with the biggest ‘neck Mohican’ they are ever likely to receive.
Driving this Bentley is a motoring experience that few others will ever come close to. Cruising serenely in standard ‘D’ mode, you are treated to the ultimate in luxury and comfort. The Continental’s ethos of making it effortless to sit in this beautiful creation for hundreds of miles, and for hours on end, is upheld flawlessly – this is the ultimate road trip car. The roof comes down with ease and even when it does and you are enjoying all that outdoorsy goodness, hair remains in place, music continues to play audibly and conversations can still be had (or more importantly, you can still hear that amazing engine noise).
When you put the GT into ‘S’ mode and apply a bit more weight with your right foot, you are equally rewarded with an astounding, exhilarating experience, and this Bentley proves without a doubt that it is ‘S’ indeed. Torque, grip and noise are delivered in abundance; the grip on bends is staggering for what is far from a wee beastie of a car, and the brakes are more than able to leave you gasping in surprise and relief at any given moment. The resulting adrenaline rush from an enthusiastic drive in the GT is something that they should ensure all engineering degree students at university experience at least once. Oh and did I mention the unequivocally awesome engine noise?
On a beautiful sunny day, with the roof down, as we rolled over the top of those familiar White Cliffs, I once again felt very proud to be British. Sure, coffee is far better than tea, cricket is a truly silly game and our football team comprises of a bunch of under-talented, overpaid man-children.
But whilst Bentley is out there, continuing to do what it does so darn well, and creating motoring masterpieces like this happy breed of machine – Britain, Bond, and go on then, Batman, have something to be immensely and unashamedly proud of.
Bentley Continental GT V8S Convertible
Price as tested: £169,029
Top Speed: 192 MPH
0-60MPH: 4.3 seconds
Economy: Combined 26.8 MPG
Performance: 521 bhp
Combined CO2: 246 G/KM
Bentley Kent, 92 London Road, Sevenoaks TN13 1BA
01732 453 700 / www.jardinemotors.co.uk/bentley