First Look: 2013 Bentley Continental GT V8

By Brandon Turkus

January 09, 2012

Following through on a promise made in 2008, Bentley has just unveiled a Continental that is 40 percent more efficient than any that’s come before. The biturbocharged, 4.0-liter V-8 produces 500 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque, allowing the GT V8 to hit 60 miles per hour in 4.6 seconds. Top speed is 188 miles per hour. Power is sent to all four wheels (as is Conti GT custom) through a new, eight-speed automatic transmission.
Despite being a thoroughbred super car, the GT V8 is still quite environmentally friendly, capable of traveling over 500 miles on a tank of fuel. It’ll net 24 miles per gallon on the highway, and 15 miles per gallon in the city all while producing only 246 grams of CO2 per kilometer traveled.
The new Continental GT V8 will also be available in the GT Convertible. The heavier GTC (5445 pounds versus 5060 pounds in the Coupe) will hit 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds, and has a top speed of 187 miles per hour. It only loses one mile per gallon in the city compared to the hardtop GT.
Being a Bentley, customization is an important feature, and the GT V8 doesn’t disappoint. It offers the same massive selection of interior, exterior, and two-tone styles as the flagship twelve-cylinder model, as well as assorted Specifications for even more variety.
US pricing hasn’t been released, but Brits can expect to pay at least £123,850 for the GT V8 and £136,250 for the GTC V8 including VAT. Europeans meanwhile will require at least €136,000 for the hardtop and €149,600 for the convertible before taxes.
Please scroll down for the official press release from Bentley.
Bentley Motors
Press release
New Continental GT and GTC V8 models will debut at the North American International Auto Show, Detroit (January 2012)
Exceptional power-to-emissions ratio combined with classic Bentley power and torque from new 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 engine
Fulfils Bentley’s environmental commitment to a new powertrain delivering a 40 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions
Advanced technologies include direct injection, variable displacement, and new close-ratio 8-speed transmission and all wheel-drive
New Continental V8 model range complements the flagship 6.0 litre W12 GT and GTC
(Crewe and Detroit. 9 January, 2012) Two new Bentley Continental V8 models will be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on 9th January 2012.
The new 4.0 litre, twin turbocharged V8 Continental GT coupé and GTC convertible achieve exceptional standards for power-to-emissions in the high luxury sports car sector.
This remarkable, new Bentley V8 engine delivers maximum power of 500 bhp (507 PS / 373 Kw) at 6000 rev/min and an extraordinary peak torque of 660 Nm (487 lb ft) which is available across virtually the entire rev range from 1700 to 5000 rev/min, providing exhilarating performance and effortless power delivery in the Bentley tradition. Combined with a new close-ratio 8-speed automatic transmission, this translates into a 0-60 mph sprint time of 4.6 seconds for the GT coupe (0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds) and a top speed of 188 mph (303 km/h).
At the same time, the new V8 Continental models achieve outstanding levels of fuel efficiency and CO2emissions for the luxury performance sector and are capable of travelling over 500 miles (800 km) on a single tank of fuel.
The arrival of the new V8 Continental models fulfils Bentley’s environmental commitment to produce a new powertrain that delivers a 40 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions.
The new V8 engine features variable displacement with a highly sophisticated engine management system, ensuring a seamless and imperceptible transition from V8 to V4 mode under light throttle load.
The high-technology V8 also features high pressure direct injection, low friction bearings, thermal management, energy recuperation via the charging system, and innovative turbo charger packaging for greater efficiency.
The instantly recognisable growl of the new 4.0 litre V8 engine sets it apart from its Bentley stablemates.
The new V8 engine will be available in two models; the Continental GT and the Continental GTC. Expressing their potent, muscular character, these models are distinguished by a black gloss matrix grille with chrome frame and centre bar, a red enamel Bentley ‘B’ badge, and a black matrix three-segment lower front bumper divided by distinctive body-coloured strakes.
At the rear, unique chromed ‘figure eight’ exhaust tailpipes, a dark lower valance and red enamel ‘B’ bootlid badge emphasise the sporty, contemporary identity of the new V8s.
Both models are specified with 20-inch alloy wheels as standard with an optional 21inch six-spoke design which is available in dramatic Diamond Black (exclusive to the Continental V8) or Diamond Silver finishes.
Inside the cabin, an Eliade cloth headlining, new contemporary Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus veneers, optional two-tone leather colour split and short centre console continue the fresh, sporting design theme.
The two new Continental models will be offered beneath the flagship 6.0 litre, 12cylinder engined Continental GT and GTC, which continue to excite customers with a combination of silken refinement and the ultimate power of the twin-turbocharged W12 Continental engine that, in its most potent form, delivers an astonishing 631 bhp (640 PS).
Both new models feature a state-of-the-art, all-wheel drive system employing an advanced Torsen differential and a 40:60 rear biased power split. This ensures safe yet dynamic sports car handling in all road conditions.
Since the launch of the original GT in 2003, the W12-engined Continental range has gone from strength to strength with over 50,000 sales worldwide, making Bentley’s factory in Crewe, England, the largest producer of 12 cylinder engines in the world. The W12 story continues to unfold and remains the ultimate expression of Bentley’s engineering strength.
Commenting on the launch of the new V8 Continental models, Wolfgang Dürheimer, Chairman and Chief Executive, Bentley Motors said:
“With the new 4.0 litre V8 engine we are widening the appeal of the latest generation of Continentals, introducing a completely new driving experience. The new engine will have all the exhilarating power, drama and performance you would expect from a V8 engine sporting the famous Bentley wings, effortlessly delivered with our characteristic ‘wave of torque’. This is complemented by innovative powertrain technology that delivers exceptional fuel efficiency and emissions.”
Distinctive sporting style
Gloss black matrix grille with bright chrome surround and divider
Three-segment lower bumper with black air intakes and striking body-coloured dividers
Dark rear lower valance
Distinctive twin ‘figure eight’ exhaust tailpipes
Red enamel Bentley winged ‘B’ badges above the front grille, to the bootlid and wheel centres
7 exterior colours offered in standard range
Sporty, contemporary interior
New Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus veneer unique to the V8 models
Eliade cloth headlining and pillar trim
Short centre console in place of W12 through-console
4 hide colours offered in standard range
Unique two-tone leather colour split
3 hood colours (Continental GTC)
Exhilarating, efficient new 4.0 litre V8 engine
Exceptional power-to-emissions ratio reflecting engine efficiency
Variable displacement (a technology first proven on the Mulsanne) imperceptibly cuts 4 cylinders on cruise and light throttle
Switchable engine mounts ensure refinement
Engine optimisation technologies boost efficiency
New, close-ratio, 8-speed transmission offers 6 per cent efficiency gain with ultra-fast shifts
Turbochargers mounted within ‘V’ for efficiency and fast response
Over 500 miles (800 km) range on one tank of fuel
Distinctive V8 growl
All-wheel drive system with 40:60 rear biased torque split
Pricing information
             CONTINENTAL GT V8            CONTINENTAL GTC V8            INFORMATION
Pounds Sterling            £123,850            £136,250            Inclusive of VAT
Euro            €136,000            €149,600            Pre-Tax
Renminbi            CNY 2,980,000            CNY 3,280,000            Includes taxes and duty
US Dollars            Price to be advised            Price to be advised           
Yen            ¥21,666,000            ¥23,800,000            Inc 5% sales tax
US Dollars            $172,527            $189,780            Pre-duty and tax
“The new V8 engine gives Bentley a three-engine line-up for the first time since the early days of the company and we’re confident it will characterise the Bentley driving experience just as the 6.75 V8 and 6.0 W12 drivetrains do. Hitting the efficiency targets we set ourselves was a tough challenge; but not only is the new 4.0 V8 a standard-setter for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, it also rewards the keen driver exactly as a Bentley engine should.”
Brian Gush, Head of Chassis and Powertrain Engineering, Bentley Motors.
Bentley performance with 40 per cent efficiency gain
Engine Optimisation
Variable displacement
8 Speed Transmission
Thermal Management
Low rolling resistance tyres
The red winged ‘B’ and black gloss grille provide a strong indicator that a different Bentley powerplant nestles in the engine bay of the Continental GT V8 and its convertible stablemate.
Settle into the supportive cobra-style seats, press the start button, and all is revealed. The new 4.0 litre Bentley engine comes to life with an unmistakable V8 burble: deep, sporty and ready for action.
To achieve the 40 per cent efficiency improvement targeted by Bentley’s Board of Directors back in 2008, Bentley’s engineering team left no detail unexamined. The reduction in displacement from 6.0 litre W12 to 4.0 litre V8 was the first starting point – but a smaller capacity engine in itself would not have delivered anything close to the ambitious power and emissions targets.
Variable displacement – deactivating cylinders when at a gentle cruising speed or light throttle – was already an area of Bentley expertise. The Bentley Mulsanne’s 6.75 litre V8, though similar in format to the original Bentley V8 of 1959, features variable displacement as part of its technologically-advanced specification.
Similar technology now features on the Bentley 4.0 V8: when the engine’s control microprocessor detects a light throttle opening as the driver maintains a steady cruising speed or gentle acceleration or deceleration it closes the valves in four of the eight cylinders so that they simply act as air springs.
This has two immediate benefits; the remaining four cylinders operate at a higher level of efficiency, and the engine’s frictional and gas transfer losses are reduced. As soon as the driver presses the throttle harder the engine instantly switches back to full eight-cylinder operation.
Switchable hydraulic engine mounts compensate for the different resonances of V8 and V4 mode, as the mount switches to a ‘soft’ state during idle for improved isolation from vibration.
Seamlessly managing the transition between modes and maintaining optimum efficiency throughout the V8’s operating range is a highly advanced engine management system (EMS). A 32-bit TriCore™ microprocessor performs up to 180 million instructions per second, providing an unparalleled level of precision in its control of the combustion process.
The EMS also controls the thermal management system that ensures a faster warmup for the engine and transmission, as well as the switchable oil control system, each of which has a contribution to make to the new model’s overall 40 per cent efficiency gain.
Another key component of the innovative V8 powertrain is the new close-ratio 8speed automatic transmission. Not only does it deliver faster, smoother gearshifts, it also accounts for 6 per cent of the total 40 per cent efficiency gain achieved by the new V8. Having a greater number of ratios ensures that the engine is always working at its most efficient gearing, while drag torque losses have been minimised within the transmission.
New thermal management features ensure that the V8 reaches its most efficient working temperature as swiftly as possible, minimising losses via the unwanted extra drag of cold lubricants and bearings.
A rapid warm-up valve keeps coolant inside the engine until a preset temperature has been reached. It then diverts the warm coolant to the transmission, heating it rapidly thereby reducing energy losses. Only when both major drivetrain components have reached their most efficient operating temperatures does the coolant enter the full cooling system.
In the quest for efficiency, Bentley engineers considered the design of every component to minimise energy losses without compromising power or durability. This process of ‘engine optimisation’ encompassed everything from oil viscosity, variable oil pressure and indirect intercooling to the use of low friction bearings. Unusually, as well as being technically demanding to achieve, the turbochargers are mounted within the ‘V’ of the V8, contributing to efficiency and weight reduction, a process that Bentley’s engineering describe as ‘hot side inside’.
Bentley’s engineers have also designed the electrical system to work in a more efficient way, reducing the amount of power sapped by the alternator. Using the principle of recuperation, the alternator’s output is ‘topped up’ by the battery at low engine speeds, then the process is reversed via energy recovery during those times when the car is decelerating.
Over a typical drive cycle this can reduce fuel consumption by 4 per cent, while the ‘on demand’ variable power assistance for the steering adds a further 3 per cent efficiency gain. Even the specification of the tyres had an additional 1 per cent efficiency gain to contribute, naturally without compromising the Bentley’s limpet-like grip and responsive handling characteristics.
As a result of these incremental gains through the use of advanced engineering technology, the new Bentley Continental GT V8 does indeed offer a 40% improvement, compared to the W12-engined Continental GT of 2008, the date when the commitment was made.
But the greatest achievement of all is that the thunderous Bentley performance characteristics are maintained. Full throttle acceleration will catapult the V8 Continental GT or GTC past sixty miles an hour in less than five seconds; performance figures only surpassed by the 6.0 litre W12 powered models.
Better still, it will do so with an intensity of aural and sensory feedback – a deep growl rising to a full throttle racer’s pitch – that delivers a new form of Bentley driving exhilaration. Bentley’s engineers accepted no compromises in their pursuit of efficiency – and as a result, the owners of the new Continental V8 models need make no compromises in their enjoyment of its performance.
Contemporary, sporting design character
“With the new V8 models, we are taking the opportunity to further widen the appeal of the Continental range. They have a lean, sporty character that’s entirely in keeping with the exhilarating new engine’s nature. Unique design motifs like the red winged ‘B’ and figure-eight exhaust tailpipes are subtle details that owners will appreciate.”
Dirk van Braeckel, Director of Design, Bentley Motors
Red enamel winged ‘B’ badge
Black gloss grille edged with bright chrome
Black three-segment lower bumper and air intakes
Dark rear lower valance
‘Figure eight’ exhaust tailpipes
New engine cover design created
Unique 21” wheel options at launch
The new Continental V8 models have all the sculpted, muscular elegance of their W12 stablemates, with their distinctive wide rear track, super formed aluminium wings, powerful haunches and low, poised stance. But a number of key differences distinguish these branches of the Continental family.
One of the most significant differences is also one of the smallest. When it appears on the Mulsanne and the 6.0 W12 Continental models the winged ‘B’ emblem above the radiator grille has a black enamel background.
On the Continental V8, the enamel is red. It’s a distinction that dates right back to the 1920s, where the ‘red label’ badge appeared upon the company’s smaller cars, such as the short-chassis 3 Litre, while black badges were usually reserved for larger-engined models.
Other external distinguishing features are more striking. The radiator grille of the V8 models features gloss black mesh, bordered by a fine chrome surround, in place of the W12 Continental GT’s brightwork.
Underneath the grille the lower bumper also features black mesh and is divided by strakes into three distinct segments. The effect, both literally and figuratively, is a Bentley with a darker side to its character; potent, muscular and challenging.
At the rear two eye-catching ‘figure eight’ exhaust pipes, one each side of a dark lower rear valance, tell those in the know that this Bentley is powered by the advanced, exhilarating and efficient new 4.0 litre V8.
Both the coupe and convertible will be launched with 20-inch wheels as standard and customers will also be able to select from two 21-inch wheel designs especially created for the Continental V8 models. Both these options feature a six-spoke alloy with a strong, sporting theme and are finished in either Diamond Black (exclusive to the Continental V8) or Diamond Silver. Each Bentley ‘B’ emblem featured on the wheel centre caps is also finished in red.
The cockpit of the two Continental V8 models has a correspondingly sporty ambience, featuring a new veneer, Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus, for the fascia and trim. Both the coupe and convertible feature a technical finish Eliade cloth headlining, rather than the leather that is standard in their W12-engined counterparts.
Unlike the full through-console of the W12, the centre console simply separates driver and front passenger seats, underscoring the sporting, lean and weight-conscious ethos of the V8 models.
Both the coupe and convertible will be offered with a choice of four single-tone interior hide colours, seven exterior finishes and (in the case of the GTC) three hood colours.
However, owners wishing to access the full palette of 17 exterior finishes, 17 hide colours, up to seven interior duotone colour ‘splits’ and eight hood colours available on the Continental W12, can take this option. This also brings access to the full Bentley range of veneers and a new sporty duotone seat design.
Other optional packages include the Driving Specification, Mulliner Styling Specification, Touring Specification and Convenience Specification. Many, however, will prefer the sporting, focused simplicity of the single-colour interior with its contemporary, clean Fiddleback Eucalyptus trim and Eliade cloth headlining.
“Our new, lean and advanced V8 sets several important benchmarks for an engine offering over 500 bhp, but it does so without compromising the explosive performance and refinement that makes driving a Bentley so unique. We feel confident that the sporty new V8 range will extend our appeal to those drivers who previously may not have considered Bentley.”
Alasdair Stewart, Member of the Board, Sales and Marketing
             New GT V8            New GTC V8
Engine            4-litre twin turbocharged V8                        4-litre twin turbocharged V8           
Power            500bhp / 373kW / 507PS @ 6000rpm                        500bhp / 373kW / 507PS @ 6000 rpm           
Torque            660Nm / 487lb.ft @ 1700 rpm                        660Nm / 487lb.ft @ 1700 rpm           
Driveline            All-wheel drive                        All-wheel drive           
Transmission            8-speed automatic with paddleshift                        8-speed automatic with paddleshift           
Acceleration 0-60mph            4.6 secs                        4.7 secs           
0–100km/h            4.8 secs                        5 secs           
Max. Speed            303 kmh            188mph            301 kmh            187mph
Range            857km            533 miles            826 km            513miles
FUEL CONSUMPTION EU DRIVE CYCLE                                                   
Urban            15.4 l/100km            18.4mpg            15.8 l/100km            17.9 mpg
Extra-Urban            7.7 l/100km            36.7 mpg            8 l/100km            35.3mpg
Combined            10.5 1/100KM            26.7mpg            10.9 l/100km            25.9mpg
CO2 emissions (combined)            246g/km                        254g/km           
EPA DRIVE CYCLE*                                                   
City Driving            15mpg                        14mpg           
Highway Driving            24mpg                        24mpg           
Combined            18mpg                        17mpg           
WEIGHTS AND VOLUMES                                                   
Kerb Weight            2295kg                        2470kg           
Unladen Weight            2295kg            5060lb            5445lb            2470kg
Gross Weight            2750kg            6063lb            2900kg            6393lb
Fuel Tank            90 litres            20 gallons / 24 USg            90 litres            20 gallons / 24 USg
Boot Volume            358 litres            12.6 cu.ft            260 litres            9.1 cu.ft
Overall Length            4806mm            15 ft 9in            4806mm            15 ft 9in
Width across mirrors            2227mm            7ft 3in            2227mm            7ft 3in
Wheelbase            2746mm            9ft            2746mm            9ft
Overall Height            1404mm            4ft7in            1403mm            4ft7in
Wheel size            20" or optional 21"                        20" or optional 21"