When you’re wealthy, there’s no end of hot cars at your disposal. The thing is, a lot of very expensive cars can leave you feeling short changed; the Mercedes S63 AMG (£150k with options) is one such car, as it doesn’t make you feel quite as special to own and drive as you might have expected. So will the same fate befall the mighty Bentley Continental GT V8 S?
One of these opulent brutes will set you back a cool £139,000. Throw in some pricey Bentley options, and you’ll be nudging £180,000. That’s a huge amount of money and not far off what some might pay for a house. But you know what? This Continental GT makes a damned good case for itself as something that’s actually worth it.
First off, there’s the engine. The wafty W12 Continental doesn’t particularly appeal to me, but when it comes to the V8 versions, I’m all ears. The appearance of V8s in the range is a necessary thing in our world of ever-tightening emissions regulations - not to mention the fact that even the well-off can appreciate a decent MPG figure - but let me tell you, this V8 is worth paying attention to.
It’s no razor-sharp sports car, but it feels impressively light on its feet, and seems up for being thrown around a little
It’s a 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 co-developed with Audi, and it produces 521bhp and 502lb ft of torque; that’s up from 500bhp and 487lb ft in the standard Continental V8. This increase in oomph will get you from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 192mph. But these are just numbers. Numbers can’t adequately describe the marvellously theatrical way in which this Conti shoves you about.
It surges forward, and while the V8 churns out one of the most barbaric noises you’ll ever hear in the car, the two turbocharges let out a tremendous sucking noise. It’s ridiculously dramatic. While the W12 Cotinental sings, the V8 shouts. Loudly.
It’s awfully quick in a straight line, and also rather handy in the corners, despite the car’s size and weight. For the S, Bentley lowered the suspension by 10mm, increased the spring rates, and stiffened the anti-roll bars and bushes.
It’s no razor-sharp sports car, but it feels impressively light on its feet, and seems up for being thrown around a little, aided by the fast and feelsome steering. The traction control has been made a little less intrusive, meanwhile, so it’s up for a little bit of slip at the rear…should you be in the mood.
The exterior, with a compliment of sportier body parts like the chrome mesh grille, revised front bumper, new rear diffuser plus the 20-inch alloy wheels, looks purposeful without being gaudy. It’s still a classy Bentley through and through, just with a little edginess thrown in.
I’m a big fan of the inside, too. You get a pair of fantastically comfortable quilted leather chairs, two brilliant stalk-like paddle shifters on the steering wheel and a well-crafted dashboard with every gadget you could ever possibly lust after built in. Almost everything you touch feels pricey. It’s all so very exquisite and carefully thought over.
The car even made me feel a little bit patriotic. Sure, Bentley is owned by VW these days, but as I blasted around in absolute comfort with that earth-shattering V8 exhaust note erupting from the Conti’s tailpipes, a touch of British pride washed over me.
Yes it’s expensive, but this is one of those times where you actually get what you pay for.