The next generation of Bentley’s sporty Continental GT will add a 4.0-liter V-8 alongside the big W-12 we’ve been accustomed to. The V-8 will arrive first; you can blame the switch on delays in getting the latest version of the W-12 to meet emissions standards, according CNET’sRoadShow.
Don’t worry, the Continental GT V8 is plenty punchy. It makes 542 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque thanks to a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers nestled between the cylinder banks. Bentley claims it will propel the new Continental Coupe to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, with the ragtop needing just 0.1 second more. Both GT V8s top out at 198 mph.
Buyers of $200,000+ grand tourers generally don’t worry about fuel economy, but a GT is meant for long distance driving, where range does become a factor. The 2020 GT V8s will see more than 500 miles per tank due to cylinder deactivation and a start-stop mode. Although the switch from eight to four cylinders and back at freeway speeds is said to be “imperceptible,” that’s not true of the start-stop system. Not to worry; it is easily deactivated.
Beyond the new engine, the next-gen Continental GTs will ride on 10-spoke 20-inch wheels, with 22-inchers an option. Buyers will choose among seven exterior colors, with custom colors available as a special order. The convertible top also is available in seven colors, including a tweed that makes us think of a ‘59 Fender Bassman amplifier. The roof goes up or down in just 19 seconds, even at speeds up to 30 mph.
Quad exhaust pipes and V8 badging will discreetly differentiate the smaller engine from the W12. The headlights, inspired by fine crystal glass, use LED Matrix technology. Surprisingly, the “welcome sequence” de rigueur in the luxury segment is an option on the Conti.
Given that even the lowliest economy car offers heated seats these days, a luxury brand like Bentley must offer heated armrests and an integrated forced-air neckwarmer, which it says is warmer and quieter than those in previous models. The “handcrafted” interior swaddles occupants in natural materials like “the highest quality” leathers and rare veneers, including something called Crown Cut Walnut. Don't worry, those rare woods are sustainably sourced. The 20-way power adjustable seats are available with a variety of dress-up options including contrasting stitching, piping, and hand cross-stitching, with monotone and multiple split-color options.
Another option is the Bentley Rotating Display, a veneer-fronted three-sided unit that spins to reveal a 12.3-inch touchscreen or analog dials.
To ensure the handling remains, in Bentley’s words, “class leading,” the Continental GT V8 models feature lightweight, hollow anti-roll bars and are available with the Dynamic Ride System adjustable air suspension.
Active All Wheel Drive, which controls front-to-rear torque split, favors the rear axle to provide the best handling while allowing for traction at all four wheels when needed. Continuous Damping Control adjusts the shock absorbers based on road conditions, vehicle dynamics and driver inputs. Driver assists like Active Lane Assist, Traffic Jam Assist and Park Assist help keep you out of trouble.
The new Continental GT V8 Coupe and GT V8 Convertible will go on sale later this year in the United States and in other markets starting in the first quarter of 2020.