NAPA VALLEY, California—You don’t waft alongside on Skaggs Spring Highway. The jaggedy, tree-lined stretch between Geyserville and the Pacific coast is a slender backroad likelier to see Lotus Elises and Porsche Caymans flinging previous than big-boned grand tourers. However right here we’re hugging curves in the 4,773-pound 2020 Bentley Continental GT V8 coupe, and loving (almost) each apex. Go determine.
That is the third era of the mannequin first launched in 2003, a automobile that was so essential to Bentley it successfully re-launched the model’s post-millennium renaissance. And whereas the stuffy set may insist the 12-cylinder version is extra basic to Bentley’s core mission—that being low-revving, high-speed, gently imperturbable long-distance cruising—this twin-turbo V-Eight spinoff is arguably the extra related specimen, one which shakes issues up and invitations drivers, not wafters, to the Flying B desk.
The visible variations are all however inconsequential—quad exhaust pipes, V8 badging, and so on. —and the inside is identical beautiful area discovered within the numerically superior high mannequin, replete with an non-obligatory three-sided rotating bezel. The function, unofficially nicknamed the “Toblerone” as a nod to the triangularly packaged Swiss chocolate, swaps between a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, a dashboard-matching floor, and three reassuringly analog gauges. We are saying “reassuring” as a result of the old-school (but digitally managed) dials floor the cabin, as do the normal bullseye vents and organ cease pulls. Definitively untraditional, not less than for this model, is the Continental’s digital instrument panel. It incorporates a customizable speedometer and tach with acquainted, Audi-derived switchgear on the steering wheel that decision up journey information and Google Earth navigation visuals. The Teutonic connection isn’t any much less direct, although maybe a bit extra overt, than within the BMW-owned Rolls-Royce Phantom, which manages to really feel a tad extra particular in its execution. Not less than we get to maintain the compass, exterior temperature, clock, and the cool-to-the-touch air con vents.
All in all, the cabin’s accoutrements have improved leaps and bounds over the past era Continental, as has the long-awaited and far wanted multimedia interface. There are novel touches all through, such because the 3D-shaped quilted stitching on the door panels and the flat stitching on the seats so the massagers don’t knead uncomfortable peapods into your posterior. Different refined particulars embrace diamond-shaped knurling on the management knobs and the so-called Côtes de Genève machine-turned aluminum trim surfaces that simply beg for finger strokes, kind of just like the “little scratch on the roof of your mouth . . . you can’t stop tonguing” that Helena Bonham Carter’s character describes in Combat Membership. The identical might be mentioned for the engine-start button, which ignites the boosted V-Eight with a mellow muffle. The engine’s pulse turns into subtly extra audible when the drive mode dial is switched from Consolation or Bentley (the model’s customized tailor-made setting) to Sport. Shift to drive by nudging the shifter whereas urgent the ‘B’ on high, and there’s a barely digital really feel to the proceedings—much less mechanical than the prior iteration, but additionally much less Volkswagen Group components bin. Although the brand new setup is vastly improved, it isn’t fairly excellent. For instance, as you progress into reverse, there’s an inclination to inadvertently faucet the park button when pushing with the palm of your hand.
The 2020 Continental V8’s throttle responds intuitively in all modes, however as you’d anticipate there may be larger immediacy in Sport. Equally, steering effort might be custom-made, however on this automobile lighter is best; the stiffer setup doesn’t convey any extra highway info and it feels pretty insulated in all settings, anyway. The eight-speed dual-clutch automated operates effectively and unobtrusively, particularly when the 542-hp V-Eight is squeezed exhausting sufficient to hit its 568-lb-ft torque peak, a flat-as-the-plains plateau that begins at 1,960 rpm and doesn’t appear to need to give up till the cows come dwelling. Although the V-Eight bows to the W-12 in goal supremacy (the 12-banger places out 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft), this mannequin can be some 551 kilos lighter than its V8 predecessor, permitting for a zero-to-60-mph run in 3.9 seconds, simply three clicks slower than the W-12–powered automobile.
That acceleration comes with a refined bass soundtrack and a relatively understated whoosh, particularly when the double-paned home windows are up and the non-obligatory 2,200-watt, 18-speaker Naim sound system is muted. Not that it’s a straightforward selection; the stereo is classy, and the turbocharged V-Eight requires a extra cautious ear to listen to, particularly given the questionable sonic authenticity of turbocharged engines nowadays. Whereas there may be concrete proof of pressured induction within the model’s previous (Blower Bentleys, anybody?), on this software the expertise displays much less sound and extra fury, particularly an engine that’s the highest-revving ever put in in a Bentley, to the tune of seven,000 rpm.
We didn’t see the digital needle delve past the indicated 6,500-rpm redline throughout our time on the highway and had been later informed the 7,000-rpm restrict is likely to be achievable with launch management, which we want we had tried. However we definitely did flog this Flying B more durable than any we’ve ever pushed, cracking it by hairpins and sweepers at a tempo with an agility that might have been unimaginable within the automobile’s earlier iteration.
There are limits to what a giant, heavy automobile like this may do, particularly when geared up with the non-obligatory 22-inch wheel bundle wrapped by hulking hunks of rubber (275/35 entrance, 315/30 rear). However the legal guidelines of physics one way or the other appear to be partially suspended thanks partially to Bentley’s 48-volt Dynamic Experience system, which is non-obligatory within the V-Eight and customary within the W-12. The system makes use of lively anti-roll bars together with a three-chamber air suspension and constantly adjustable dampers to fine-tune the stability between compliance and grip. Add in brake vectoring to assist turn-in, and the Continental manages to really feel far lither than its spec sheet may counsel. It’s a bundle that emboldened our driving type on the aforementioned mountain highway, giving us confidence to push ever more durable into tight corners. And although sporting sorts may hope for stronger preliminary chew from the metal brake setup (which might be upped to carbon ceramics), they nonetheless pull brief stopping distances however odor like toasted brake compound after nasty high-speed tussles by twisty roads—ask us how we all know.
Additionally coming to market is a convertible version of the Conti V8, which may drop the highest in 19 seconds at speeds as much as 30 mph. Although the wind-in-the-hair sensation is swell, the comparatively unturbulent air continues to be noisy sufficient to principally drown out these refined burbles and bass notes from the V-8. Driving purists, presumably the doubtless latest member of Bentley’s rising proprietor circle, will seemingly desire to go for the lighter and tighter coupe.
Whereas Bentley calls the W-12 model of the Continental “peerless,” the 2020 Bentley Continental V8, with its preferable 55:45 weight distribution, higher-revving powerplant, and shockingly tossable chassis, conjures up a counterintuitively vaster array of adjectives. We all know which one we’d desire to take dwelling.
2020 Bentley Continental GT V8 Specs
|ON SALE||Fall 2019|
|BASE PRICE||coupe, $201,225; convertible, $221,075|
|ENGINE||4.0L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8; 542 hp @ 5,750 rpm, 568 lb-ft @ 1,960 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed dual-clutch automated|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, AWD coupe or convertible|
|EPA MILEAGE||16/24 mpg (metropolis/hwy, est)|
|L x W x H||190.9 x 77.3–77.Four x 55.1–55.Three in|
|0–60 MPH||3.8–3.9 sec (est)|
|TOP SPEED||198 mph|