Bentley Continental GT V8 2012

For a long time now, I’ve been wondering if the car industry has been trying to flog us something we think we ought to have rather than selling us what we really need.

Continental GT V8


I’m not talking about the car itself, because, in the main, they’re actually good value for money. Last month, you may recall I tested the VW Up. Here is a car which could be parked-up on your driveway for less than eight grand, with a small amount of change leftover. Buy either of its cousins, the SEAT Mii or the Skoda Citygo, and you’ll end-up with an even bigger chunk of change. Admittedly, if you opt for a trim level which sees the aforementioned cars equipped with a few more extras then eight thousand pounds very soon becomes nearer ten. So the question is this; do we really need the additional fripperies?

The car industry thinks so; why else would they make them? And I can’t argue with paying for electric windows or a radio, because, in my mind, they come under heading of: essential. But when it comes to things like SatNav’s, then I’m not so sure. Go into any high street electrical store and you can buy a SatNav for a fraction of the price you’ll be charged for a similar factory-fit in your new car. Yes, it’ll look neater, and yes, you don’t have to worry about someone smashing-in the window to nick it, but really, in these straighten times, aren’t you better off to save the money?

And none of my above preamble ranting has any relevance whatsoever to the car I’ve been testing for this months’ review. After all, if you happen to have the odd £123,850 to buy this new Bentley GT V8 then you’re probably unlikely to be quibbling over the cost of a new set of foot mats (which, you wouldn’t have to do because they’re included in price)

What you don’t get with this GT, as opposed to the W12 engine option in the range, are the extra four cylinders. However, and this is the important part, this isn’t a dumbed-down cheapened version to appeal to brow-beaten executives looking to implement their own forms of austerity measures. Everything is much the same as in the W12, only this time it is greener and leaner, and delivers much the same performance, too.

A truly frugal V8 may remain a contradiction in terms, but this is the closest it’ll ever get. You see, what the Bentley engineers have done here is to take the Audi derived V8 engine and tweak it to extract the most amounts of power and performance out of it. Not only this, it very cleverly shuts down half of its valves when it’s at cruising speeds too, increasing the fuel range even further. How much further, I hear you ask. Well, the W12 averages 17.1mpg, whereas this, the V8, boasts 26.7mpg, and because the way the engine mounts absorb the four-cylinder imbalance I never once noticed the valves shutting-down.

Don’t be under any misapprehension here; this is still a Bentley through-and-through. The twin-turbo 4.0-litre engine still drives all four wheels but this time it’s is done so via a new eight-speed ZF gearbox and when it’s allowed to flex all of its 8-clyniders it can still reach 62mph from a standing start in 4.8 seconds, that’s just 0.2 seconds slower than its W12 brother. Not only this, it expels a roar from its oval chrome exhaust pipes that will make boys of ages blush with excitement. And, by now being 55lbs lighter, this allows it the sort of adroitness the W12 never had. Admittedly, at a shade just under 2.3 tons it’s no lightweight sports car but, nevertheless, it is a great deal of fun to drive.

So here is my piece of consumer advice for all you rich people out there looking to save a few quid: don’t bother with the W12, buy the V8 instead and pocket yourself the best part of twelve grand – it still comes with a built-in SatNav and electric windows, too.

Quick facts
Petrol engine 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power (bhp) 500hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque (lb/ft) 487 @ 1,700-5,000rpm
0-62mph (secs) 4.8
Top speed (mph) 188
Combined mpg 26.7mpg
CO2 246g/km