The sound is unmistakable (scroll down or go to the last page of this article!): the deep growl that can only be a V8. But this is a new generation of V8. An engine so efficient it can travel over 500 miles on a single tank and at the same time get from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.6 seconds. The Continental itself has been around for a decade, up until today powered by the 6 litre twin-turbo W12. Now the W12 has a new stable-mate, a ground-breaking all new, 4 litre, twin-turbo V8. It provides the sporting performance expected of a Continental, but with a remarkable 40 per cent improvement in fuel economy.
The twin turbo-chargers are placed within the V, contributing to efficiency and weight reduction. More important is variable displacement – deactivating cylinders when not needed. Bentley first employed this technology in the flagship Mulsanne in 2010. For the new V8, the system has evolved. Drive at a steady speed or decelerate and four out of eight cylinders go idle, unrecognizable to the driver or the passengers. The engine management system closes down the valves in four cylinders so that they act merely as springs. Press on the throttle, however, and the engine seamlessly roars back to full capacity and the driver is instantly delivered the full power of the V8.
This means 500 brake horsepower at 6000 revs per minute; 660Nm (487 lb/ft) of torque available across almost the entire rev range; 0-60 in 4.6 seconds; and a top speed of 188 miles per hour. All with the added benefit of all-wheel drive. Design has also been renewed: a chrome-rimmed black matrix grille, a black mesh lower grill with distinctive “sharks teeth” appearance, figure eight tailpipes and a new red Bentley B badge. The V8 will feature in both the GT and the new Continental GTC, with deliveries starting in spring.