2012 Bentley Continental GT V8 Review take 2

A second opinion from the self-confessed Bentley man

By Fraser M. Martin

2012 Bentley Continental GT V8

At home, even just a shade off the beaten track

Read Imthishan’s earlier review of the same car here

Let me just say at the outset that I really am a Bentley Man – I’ll be unlikely to ever afford to have one in this life, but my ‘briefcase car’ (where someone comes to you with a briefcase full of money and says, go buy something you can live with for the rest of your life, and we’ll pay for it!) has for many years been the Bentley Continental Flying Spur – Speed or otherwise.

The Continental GTV8 is not by any means a lesser car for having the ‘smaller’ engine, nor is it any less of a Bentley experience driving it. It still creates a vibration on the back of your legs when you give it some stick from a rolling start as the torque kicks in and you rocket towards a point where the instrument cluster tells you “the tyres are not sufficiently inflated for this speed”.

2012 Bentley Continental GT V8

The GTV8 on the kind of roads it needs

The polite but throaty rumble on the over-run when you lift off, still reminds you of the preliminary warning growl you get when approaching an unfriendly dog – a marginal increase in heart rate as your brain decides which of the fight or flight mechanisms to engage. And the general ambience of the interior – part Gentleman’s Club and part Fighter Pilot’s cockpit – oozes with quality of both a visual and tactile nature. This Bentley, for all the important reasons of lowering emissions, being more economical and creating a smaller footprint in the Grand Scheme of Things, is still a Bentley.

Rarely in this job is it difficult to find fault. Motor cars nowadays do almost everything well, and though some are better at their assigned tasks than others, there is usually some niggling doubt that elsewhere someone is doing such-and-such a job better. But with the Continental GTV8, I could only find three things: one easily remedied at production, one that should never have arisen and one that long-term ownership would negate.

To take them in turn, because really, this is all there is, the cupholders do not like thermocool cups. The tea will sit comfortably enough but the little teeth holding your brew from being part of your clothing are just too sharp and make a sterling effort to pierce the container. Now I daresay that there should be a Meissen China cup delivered with every Bentley, but remembering to bring it with you for instant roadside refreshment is a bridge too far when you are likely to be on the wrong side of one-point-two million dirhams for the privilege.

2012 Bentley Continental GT V8

If you insist on Fast Food in a Bentley, Imthishan, get some proper Fast Food!

Likewise, when the posted road speeds differ from those actually used in law, the beeper at 120 should sound for a few seconds and then revert to a warning light, not stay on all day, interrupting the soundtrack of the engine, especially in a car which seems to be at its happiest on the open road just south of 135. If Jaguar can manage this in cars costing less than half, there really is no excuse for this sort of old style management of system.

I did find one other thing that would quickly disappear with ownership. The chromed accent on the rear quarter window creeps into peripheral vision when glancing over to the passenger-side wing mirror, creating the temporary illusion of there being something you missed before pulling in. I guess this is just an idiosyncrasy of the specification in the gorgeous blood red metallic Press car driven here, but it caught me out a couple of times.

And that is it. I could not fault the car at all, other than these very subjective niggles. Economy was surprisingly kind, given the route and pace employed; there seems to be no diminution of performance from the W12 that has hitherto, been the only engine available and the cabin, finished in quilted oatmeal and black with engine-turned steel and piano-black accents, was simply one of the best combinations I have seen in a long time.

Buying into the ‘lesser’ Bentley should not be an objection to owning a thoroughly fine motor car – and in any case, without badges to prove otherwise, who would know? For me, it would have to be a four door though, just because its easier to put the shopping in the back seat than to lug it through the generous opening of the huge front door, and for the ease of getting in and out when some pillock parks too close to you, but Continental GTV8 really is a sublime car.

Read Imthishan’s earlier review of the same car here

Specs

Price: AED700,000 ($190,585)
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, 500bhp @ 6000rpm, 487lb ft @ 1700-5000rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 4.6 seconds, top speed 297kph (limited)
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four wheel drive, 10.9L/100km
Weight: 2290kg

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