New Bentley Continental GT, GTC V-8: First Look

  • Competes with: Rolls-Royce Ghost, Mercedes-Benz CL-Class 
  • Looks like: A "more affordable and fuel-efficient" Continental is on its way complete with sarcasm-filled quotation marks 
  • Drivetrain: 500-hp, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8; 631-hp, twin-turbocharged W-12; six-speed automatic and eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Early 2012 

Bentley will introduce two new trims — one for the Continental GT coupe and one for the GTC convertible — powered by a new V-8 engine at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The new powerplant will slot underneath the W-12 engine, which also gets a power boost. This is the first V-8 powertrain offered on the Continental nameplate since 2003. The new 500-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 features direct injection and a cylinder deactivation system. Under the right conditions, four cylinders can deactivate on the V-8. When mated to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission, Bentley expects the powertrain to deliver a 40% improvement in fuel efficiency compared to the W-12 model, which returns 12/19/14 mpg city/highway/combined. The motor will propel the Continental GT from zero to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds, and it has a top speed of more than 180 mph.

The 4.0-liter V-8 was recently introduced on the redesigned Audi S6; Bentley Motors is a subsidiary of Volkswagen, which in turn owns Audi.

Because the 631-hp W-12 will still exist, it’s important for Bentley to distinguish the presumably less-expensive V-8 models from the W-12.

Models equipped with the V-8 will feature their own distinct exterior and interior features, according to the automaker. The exterior has a segmented, dark honeycomb lower intake, unique 20-inch alloy wheels and quad tailpipes that each form a “figure 8,” says the automaker, though it’s actually an infinity symbol but whatever.

In the cabin, the center console on the V-8 model doesn’t span the entire interior as it does on the W-12. There’s only room for four as there’s still no rear center seat. Unique two-tone leather and cloth pillar and headliner trim instead of Alcantara or leather also distinguish the model from the more illustrious W-12 variant.

We’ll have more info about the two new Bentleys at the auto show in January.

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