Bentley Continental GT V8S Review

The ultimate ‘Briefcase Car’ except for two things – the doors

By Fraser Martin

Bentley Continental GT V8S

A statement of my allegiance at the beginning of a piece usually gets readers prepared for what to expect from the rest of my story – and quite honestly, this is not going to be much different from any other Bentley story I have written. If you start to get a bit of déjà vu whilst reading this, you are probably right.

Bentley Continental GT V8S

Since I started recording my own podcasts (and stopped again) way back in 2009 (I think) there was always a question to guests about ‘the Briefcase Car’ – the one you would choose if someone were to present you with a briefcase full of money and told you that you could have whatever you liked, for a year, with all the expenses paid, as long as it was the ONLY thing you drove for all 365 days.

Bentley Continental GT V8S

Guests’ choices varied quite a bit, but my own briefcase car was always a Bentley Continental. It still is, of course – just not this one! The Continental GT V8S presses all the right buttons: it has the correct engine for the car – 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 with a whisker more in the equine department than the standard V8, at 528hp. 680Nm of torque delivered at almost below sea level, gives it relentless pull, and it has the right gearbox with eight speeds and flappy paddles when you really want them, but can do quite nicely thank you, when you don’t.

Bentley Continental GT V8S

It’s wonderfully profligate in the use of excellent quality, fine two-tone, bespoke Scottish leather and, when you tweak the right buttons, has an exhaust note that will lift the hair on the back of your neck. There’s a Beluga black grille, front splitter, sills, rear diffuser and 20” rims exposing bright red brake callipers of huge proportion. What’s not to like?

Bentley Continental GT V8S

Actually, it’s the doors. There are not enough them and those that are there, are enormous. I might be getting on a bit, of course, but even with the kindness of having the seatbelt offered to me as I position myself in the cockpit, it is still a bit of a stretch to get round the pillarless side window that makes the GT-bodied Continental so drop-dead gorgeous to look at.

Bentley Continental GT V8S

Getting in and out of the car is easier – unless you have been hamstrung by some selfish idiot parking too close to you (not for the first time did I need to let myself in through the passenger door of a Conti GT) – and the doors, despite their size, are beautifully counterbalanced so they don’t seem heavy. It’s just that there are two too few!

Bentley Continental GT V8S

It really is a bit of a pain having to slide things about, albeit electronically and in multiple directions, to find a place for that briefcase of money or, more realistically, a bag of groceries, and lobbing it over the seat or the hip-hugging transmission tunnel does not really solve the problem. Cars of this size have gone beyond the limit of comfort and practicality when it comes to access – the big Yank Tanks of yore had similar doors, but you could get in to the rear compartment without having to shift the seat at all in those. The Continental GT needs a half-door, like a Mazda RX8 to restore the practicality yet retain the svelte looks. Over to you, Crewe!

Bentley Continental GT V8S

The test car I had garnered mixed responses on colour. I thought it looked like the breast of a Kingfisher and was splendid in the true sense of the word. Others thought it more like the kind of M&Ms you don’t give to hyperactive children.

Bentley Continental GT V8S

Either way, the Bentley Continental GT V8S was a head turner, and the interior a simply massive statement of style in its two-tone blue and oatmeal with Piano Black accents. Some may say that the organ-stop air-vent controls are archaic, but they are so wonderfully tactile and move so delightfully, that you end up adjusting them for no other reason than the pleasure of movement they provide. Bentley interiors are sublime and probably the best in the business.

Bentley Continental GT V8S

It would be hard to refuse such a monumentally complete motor car if presented with one, but given the choice, I’d compromise on weight and a few of the exclusivities, and stick with a four-door Flying Spur at a shade under the Dhs.1.3million all Bentleys seem to be!

It would be churlish not to.

Read Shahzad’s second take review here

Video Verdict

2014 Bentley Continental GT V8S – The Specs

Price: Approx AED1million ($275k) as tested
Engine: 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo, 521bhp @ 6000rpm, 502lb ft @ 1700rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, all wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 10.5/100km
Performance: 0-100kph 4.5 seconds, Top speed 310kph
Gross Weight: 2295kg

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