EXECUTIVE EDITOR RORY CARROLL: Bentley's Continental GT is one of those things that is made harder to like because of the other people who like it. It's a lot of fun, but no one wants to be associated with the people who stereotypically make it a part of their lives.
The abs man from the New Jersey TV show has a Conti, for example.
That's a shame, because it would be a blast to actually own one. I love the shape, which is evocative of the gorgeous S1 Continental as bodied by HJ Mulliner while remaining modern. The character line that arches above the front wheel and heads back toward those broad hips is a real joy. Plus, the interior is comfortable and luxurious without being too tacky or overwrought.
This car's V8 sounds wonderful and is capable of generating big, super legal speeds at a second's notice, though unless the car is kept in Sport mode, the automatic can lead to some “stomp pedal and wait” scenarios that aren't especially fun. There are the weirdly shaped shifters behind the wheel, but they don't work all that way unless their function is inhibiting the use of the turn signal.
Overall, I liked this 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S a lot more than I'd expected to.
The 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S comes in at a base price of $199,225 with our tester topping off at $231,470.
SENIOR MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: Certainly I do not drive a Bentley Continental GT very often, or even remotely often … so perhaps it sounds strange to hear me say this, but I've gradually become a bit jaded toward it. Or perhaps just sleepy. This shape has been on the market for 11 years, and it doesn't deliver the same curbside impact as it once did. It remains a very nice design, but it also seems dated, and it's not one I foresee as a future classic. If nothing else, it just doesn't scream “$200K!” from the outside -- and it's not difficult to imagine that at least a portion of Continental buyers takes the plunge as much for the “B” name and its associated image bequeathed upon them at purchase as much as or more than they do for a raw love of the Continental hardware itself.
The Audi-sourced twin-turbo V8 is a highlight, as it makes nice sounds, especially at wide-open throttle, but you're always acutely aware that this is 2.5-ton car rather than a nimble sport sedan -- though it is about 100 pounds less than the W12-engined Continental GT. In this high-level of the pricing arena, value is secondary at most, but I don't see any legitimate reason to spend thousands more for the Speed edition or a W12-engined Continental. Except for, again, bragging rights.
Rory mentioned the “paddle” shifters, which are not paddles but cheap plastic stalks mounted to the steering column behind the wheel. They come across as a late-in-the-process and out-of-place addition, and they are not particularly useful and definitely not engaging enough to entice you to use them often.
The brakes are strong, though as you might expect, the pedal feel is luxury car rather than sports car. But it's reassuring to know how much stop you have beneath you considering the speed at which this hunk of mass can move down the road.
The interior is … nice … but no longer a unique selling point; there's nothing about it that eclipses or even equals newer offerings from various luxury-car makers, and for less money to boot. And one look and attempt to use the infotainment system reveals immediately that it is from a previous era.
So, no, I can't imagine buying a new Continental in 2014, unless that “B” is in fact the most important thing to you.
The 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S is equipped with a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8.
2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Maybe I'm a chav, but I love a V8 Continental. This 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S has even more of the muscle-car-in-a-tuxedo aura thanks to a sublime 4.0-liter twin-turbo engine that turns your quilted-leather-lined luxury machine into a cruise missile at the stab of the right foot. Not only does it go like stink, it makes the kind of sounds that cars should be legally mandated to make. The combo of noise and thrust is guaranteed to make your inner 6-year-old giggle like an idiot, and when you're done you can roll up the laminated windows and you're still driving a Bentley.
There's not much to add to my colleagues' comments about the car's appearance: It's not new, but I think the low, wide fastback has aged beautifully, and my eye is always drawn to the proportions. Interior trim is impeccable with the aforementioned exception of the gangly paddle shifters, placed exactly where the fingertips expect to find a turn-signal stalk.
You can put my vote in the “don't care” column, though: Just leave it in drive and dip into the 502 lb-ft whenever you get the itch. Unless you're on a racetrack, the advantage paddles might offer seems superfluous in a car like this.
I love it -- and this VW Group 4.0-liter V8 may just be my new favorite engine, supplanting the Jaguar supercharged AJ V8.
You may notice a trend here -- it's no secret that I tend to prefer GT cars to sports cars. At 5,000 pounds, the Continental GT is not a Porsche Cayman, and if your automotive passion leans toward track days, the Conti is probably not the best place for your $231,000. But if you've always coveted a Turbo R, if you enjoy the sensation of mass accelerating, the Continental GT V8 S delivers on every front.
Base Price: $199,225
As-Tested Price: $231,470
Drivetrain: 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8; AWD, eight-speed automatic
Output: 521 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 502 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm
Curb Weight: 5,060 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 15/24/18 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 15.5 mpg
Options: Main paint ($8,220); Naim for Bentley audio system ($7,300); color specification ($4,440); adaptive cruise control ($2,730); sports exhaust ($2,480); contrast interior stitching ($1,905); rearview camera ($1,215); power boot opening and closing ($955); massage and ventilated front seats ($950); space-saving spare wheel ($670); emblem stitching ($640); center console storage case ($615); battery charger ($125)
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