2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S First Test
It’s Good to be King
The 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S has charisma in spades. Whether it was our tester's beautiful blue exterior offset by black trim and red details, or the modern interpretation of classic Bentley design, the Continental GT V8 S turns heads. But, as with people, charisma doesn't always equate to substance. Is the British grand touring coupe's charm more than skin deep, or is the attention it draws undeserved? After an extended weekend in the new Continental GT V8 S we have some answers.
Finished in Kingfisher blue paint ($4395) contrasted with Beluga black accents, our tester's exterior sparkled in the California sun. All Continental GT V8 models feature a black grille mesh with chrome vertical center divider and exterior (front, rear, and wheels) B badges with red backgrounds, while the Beluga black front splitter, side sills, rear diffuser, active rear spoiler, and dual chrome "figure-eight" exhaust tips are exclusive to the V8 S model.
In addition to unique interior bits (more on those later), the Mulliner Driving Specification ($14,845) adds a solid aluminum "jewel" fuel cap and the included Mulliner Dark option features dark tint HID/LED headlights and LED taillights, and Beluga black side mirrors. While the standard brake package consists of eight-piston calipers and 15.9-inch discs up front and two-piston calipers and 13.2-inch discs in back, our tester was fitted with the optional Carbon Ceramic Discs with Red Brake Calipers ($13,875). The brakes feature massive 16.5-inch front and 14.0-inch rear rotors. The high-performance brake package peeks out from behind 21-inch, seven-spoke black finish alloy wheels wrapped in Pirelli rubber ($4380). The most striking feature of the Continental GT V8 S may be the lack of a B-pillar when all four side windows are rolled down.
With the brand-new Bentley under my command, my weekend began at the weekly enthusiast gathering known as Cars and Coffee. During the 20-mile drive to Irvine, the Continental GT V8 S garnered many approving nods from motorists in mainstream cars and premium models. Although parking spots at Cars and Coffee begin to fill up early -- around 5 a.m. -- the Continental GT V8 S was quickly ushered inside the main parking area even after arriving 90 minutes late. The crowd parted like the Red Sea as I navigated Big Ben to the only remaining spot. Once safely parked, the Continental GT V8 S received immediate and long-lasting attention. After the coffee had cooled and the crowd began to dwindle, the blue Bentley and I made our way to the Whittier Area Classic Car Show, where we had a similar experience. The Continental GT V8 S received many positive comments, with references to the exterior hue the most common.
After a weekend chauffeuring friends, the Continental GT V8 S and I headed to our standard testing facilities. Under the Continental GT V8 S' metallic blue exterior sits a version of the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 found in the standard Continental GT V8. With 1.5 more pounds of boost, the GT V8 S churns out 521 hp at 6000 rpm and 502 lb-ft of torque at 1700 rpm -- increases of 21 hp and 15 lb-ft, respectively. Power is routed to all four wheels via the same eight-speed automatic. Despite a 5132-pound curb weight, the Continental GT V8 S lays down impressive numbers.
At the dragstrip, the coupe charged to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds and finished the quarter-mile sprint in 12 seconds flat at 116.6 mph. Not only did the Continental GT V8 S reach 60 mph 0.7 second quicker than automaker claims, but it was 0.2 second quicker to 60 mph and 0.1 second quicker in the quarter-mile than the 616-hp 2013 Continental GT Speed. The twin-turbo 6.0-liter W-12 Speed, however, had a 0.5-mph faster trap speed. Those times are also noticeably quicker than the standard 500-hp Continental GT V8 (0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds; quarter-mile in 12.7 seconds at 110.3 mph). Bentley knows how to put big power to the ground.
Stopping power with the optional carbon-ceramic brake upgrade was impressive. With massive eight-piston calipers clamping down on equally enormous 16.5-inch rotors up front and two-piston calipers squeezing 14-inch rotors in the rear, the nearly 2.6-ton Continental GT V8 S stopped from 60 mph in 105 feet. That's 6 feet shorter than the Continental GT Speed and 1 foot shorter than the Continental V8.
With 57 percent of its 5132 pounds on the front wheels, the Bentley lapped the figure eight in 25.5 seconds at 0.72 g average and pulled 0.88 g around the skidpad. Not bad for car almost twice as heavy as our long-term 2012 Honda Civic Si. Those handling stats are due in part to the revised self-leveling air suspension (10mm lower ride height with spring rates increased 45 percent front and 33 percent rear, retuned dampers, 70 percent stiffer bushings, 54 percent stiffer anti-roll bars) and recalibrated steering, optional 21-inch seven-spoke alloy wheels wrapped in 275/35 Pirelli rubber (275/40R20 tires are standard) at all four corners, and a 40/60 split Torsen all-wheel-drive system. Motor Trend testing director Kim Reynolds was impressed with the braking system's stopping power and the Continental GT V8 S' willingness to turn in while lapping the figure-eight.
To put that in context: the Civic Si sedan, weighing in at only 2875 pounds, lapped the figure-eight in 27.0 seconds at 0.65 g average and pulled 0.85 g average around the skidpad. Now imagine that Civic Si sedan lapping the figure-eight 1.5 seconds quicker while towing a first-generation Mazda Miata. The Continental GT V8 S is also quicker around the figure-eight than the Continental GT Speed (25.7 seconds at 0.76 g average) and posted higher lateral g's around the skidpad than the Continental GT Speed (0.85 g) and Continental GT V8 (0.86 g).
With the Continental GT V8 S outperforming the Continental GT Speed, one may wonder if the more expensive 616-hp W-12 powered model is worth the premium. According to Bentley, the Continental GT Speed can reach a top speed of 205 mph, while the lowly Continental GT V8 S can only muster a top speed of 192 mph. The decision then comes down to quicker acceleration and better handling, or top-speed bragging rights and Autobahn cruising.
At first, the Continental GT V8 S appears big, but in reality its exterior dimensions are close to that of the current Ford Mustang. The Bentley's 108.1-inch wheelbase is just an inch longer than the Mustang's, while the 189.2-inch length is 0.7 inches longer. At 76.5 inches wide, the Continental GT V8 S is 2.6 inches wider, though at 55.3 inches tall, the Bentley is 0.5 inch shorter than the Mustang. Despite its musclecar dimensions and SUV weight, the Bentley Continental drives much smaller than it is.
The Continental GT V8 S amazes on the streets, too. With a bottomless torque reserve, the turbocharged 4.0-liter pulls to redline, turning straight on-ramps into personal runways, while freeway interchanges can be taken at more than twice suggested speeds, though of course we don't advocate unsafe driving. One passenger even called the blue Bentley's acceleration feel from the passenger seat as "scary." While not scary for the driver, vigilant jurisprudence must be maintained over the speedometer to keep the Continental GT V8 S' from quickly – and quietly – creeping into the triple-digit range. While it remains docile at moderate revs, the twin-turbo V-8 bellows unadulterated musclecar sounds under wide-open throttle.
While the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 delivers on the promise made by the striking bodywork, does the interior pamper the driver and passengers as well? The short answer: most definitely.
Beluga black leather covers nearly every surface, including the seats, doors, dashboard, steering wheel, rear seat side panels, and headliner, which are contrasted by Kingfisher blue stitching ($1905 plus $200 for the steering wheel) and shiny aluminum bits throughout. Everything that looks like real metal is real metal, including the Bright Tint Aluminum Fascia Panels ($1350) and removable sunglass case that snaps onto the cupholders and is part of the center console storage case ($615). Interior bits of the Mulliner Driving Specification include diamond-quilted, perforated leather seats and door panels, indented leather headliner, and drilled alloy pedals. Other luxury touches include heated, vented, and massaging front seats ($950) (that can all be used at the same time!) – and deep-pile floor mats ($410). After taking the Continental GT V8 S home for a night, Motor Trend digital director Chris Clonts called the interior a "rolling museum of industrial art."
Less tangible options include a Naim audio system ($7300), adaptive cruise control ($2730) rearview camera ($1215), neck warmer ($1035), power opening and closing trunk ($995), valet key ($275), and portable battery charger ($125). Those keeping track up to this point know our tester's options add up to $56,600, which nearly splits the difference between the base price of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe and convertible (after March's $2000 price increase).
With a base price of $199,225 and an as-tested price of $255,825, the 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S is beyond this lowly auto scribe's means. But if I were to win one of California's state lotteries, one of my first calls would be to the nearest Bentley dealer. Why? Simply because the 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S has the substance -- literally and figuratively -- to back up the price tag with its charming looks and charismatic personality.
Oh, one last thing: That exterior hue is named for the small Common Kingfisher, which is considered to be the most colorful bird in Britain. While kingfishers are actually a murky brown color, light bouncing around the structures of the wings reflect back as a bright iridescent blue.
|2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$255,825|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||4.0L/521-hp/502-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||5132 lb (57/43%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||189.2 x 76.5 x 55.3|
|0-60 MPH||3.6 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||12.0 sec @ 116.6 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||105 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.88 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.5 sec @ 0.72 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||15/24/ mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||225/140 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||1.08 lb/mile|