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Motoring journalist Tim Barnes-Clay reviews the Bentley Continental GT V8 S, which will be entering the used car market shortly.

It isn’t often that you get to drive a machine you’ll remember forever, but my week with the Bentley Continental GT V8 S was enough to certify that the car will always burn an impression into my grey matter. Motoring along in a different vehicle each week never gets boring, but there are certain car shapes and engine notes that don’t excite me. Even some Bentleys aren’t always what I imagined they’d be like. Well I am pleased to report that this car lived up to – and exceeded – all of my expectations.

Building on the success of the Continental GT V8, the new GT V8 S model features a more powerful version of Bentley’s 4 litre, twin turbo V8 engine. It develops a mind-altering 521bhp, delivered via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The increased clout provides exhilarating high performance with breathtaking acceleration and syrupy-smooth power delivery. Switch into S mode via the gear selector and the V8 S rewards you with a razor sharp throttle response, whilst gears are held for longer with quicker shifts.

All of this means the GT V8 S coupe dispatches the 0-62 mph sprint in just 4.5 seconds onto a terrifying top speed of 192 mph. And as shared with all Continental models, the all-wheel drive system ensures the delivery of safe yet dynamic handling in all road conditions. The amplified performance is accomplished without detriment to the V8 lump’s fuel economy and emissions or its ability to cover more than 500 miles between fill ups, returning a combined cycle fuel economy of 26.8 mpg and CO2 emissions of 246 g/km. Behind the wheel, it’s always immense fun and this is heightened under acceleration when the character of the exhaust system transforms spectacularly from a purr into an emotive snarl.

The Bentley looks as in good shape as it drives too. Whilst the coachwork of the Continental GT is inspired by iconic Bentleys of the past, the design of the GT V8 S takes a more dramatic direction and its enhanced road presence is clear before a wheel is even turned. The lowered suspension provides a sleek and resolute stance, complemented by lower body styling which includes a front splitter, discrete side sills and subtle rear diffuser finished in Beluga gloss. The black gloss radiator grille with single chrome divider bar and ‘figure of eight’ exhaust tail pipes instantly signify the potent V8 engine.

Its colossal 20-inch wheels are distinctive to the ‘S’ model with an open spoke design that reveals red painted brake callipers. Subtle ‘V8 S’ badges are applied to each front wing, and as with the other members of the Continental V8 family, the famous Bentley Wings emblems feature a red centre.

Of course, I can’t write about this particular Bentley without mentioning the lush cabin that surrounds you when you’re biting through the bitumen. The interior has soft touch leathers, wood veneers, polished metals and deep-pile carpeting. Discreet ‘V8 S’ badges are also displayed on each sill tread plate. Can you see why a week behind the wheel of this car is now to be etched into my memory forever?

Fast facts

Max speed: 192mph
0-62 mph: 4.5 secs
Combined mpg: 26.8
Engine: 4 litre twin turbocharged direct injection V8
Max. power (bhp): 521
Max. torque (lb/ft): 502
CO2: 246 g/km
Price: £146,000

Pros and cons

Potent

Thrilling

Luxurious

Soundtrack

Expensive


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