2019 Bentley Continental GT V8 first drive: Grandly touring, indeed

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT V8 comes with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 amking 542 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT V8 comes with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 amking 542 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT V8 comes with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 amking 542 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT V8 comes with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 amking 542 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT V8 comes with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 amking 542 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT V8 comes with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 amking 542 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque.

In May 2018 we first got our grubby paws on Bentley’s new and mostly redone Continental, a lighter, trimmer coupe. It’s built around new Porsche Panamera architecture rather than the outgoing car’s VW Phaeton underpinnings. The new Continental’s W12 produces 626 hp and 664 lb-ft, enough to cause the car to accelerate with, we wrote, “what feels almost like electric-motor twist and smoothness.” However, based on past experience we also wrote that “we all know the V8 Continental GTs are livelier …”

Now here we are a bit more than a year later, Bentley has just launched the third-generation GT V8 coupe and convertible, so we’re about to find out if we were right.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT come with brushed and polished metal trim, diamond quilted leather and an analog clock.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT come with brushed and polished metal trim, diamond quilted leather and an analog clock.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT come with brushed and polished metal trim, diamond quilted leather and an analog clock.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT come with brushed and polished metal trim, diamond quilted leather and an analog clock.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT come with brushed and polished metal trim, diamond quilted leather and an analog clock.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT come with brushed and polished metal trim, diamond quilted leather and an analog clock.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT come with brushed and polished metal trim, diamond quilted leather and an analog clock.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT come with brushed and polished metal trim, diamond quilted leather and an analog clock.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT come with brushed and polished metal trim, diamond quilted leather and an analog clock.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT come with brushed and polished metal trim, diamond quilted leather and an analog clock.

The 2019 Bentley Continental GT come with brushed and polished metal trim, diamond quilted leather and an analog clock.











The new V8 looks quite a bit like the old V8 but is mostly new. To differentiate them from the W12, the V8 coupe and convertible have small badges on the front fenders and quad pipes. The twin-turbo engine is also new and like the chassis is shared with Porsche’s Panamera — it’s the Volkswagen Group’s aluminum-intensive MSB platform. The front axle is now more than 5 inches closer to the front of the car, shortening the overhang and better balancing the vehicle weight: 56.5 percent rested on the front axle before, now it’s 55 percent.

The 4.0-liter produces a peak 542 hp and 568 lb-ft, 84 hp and 96 lb-ft fewer than the W12, and is mated to a new dual-clutch transmission, replacing the old car’s automatic. The lower horsepower and torque numbers barely change performance: A sprint to 60 mph in the W12 takes 3.6 seconds while with the V8, 3.9 seconds pass before hitting 60. The W12’s top speed is 207 mph, the V8’s 198 mph. That should do nicely.

Like the GT W12, or any other Bentley for that matter, there is a lot of choice when spec-ing a V8. Twenty inch wheels are standard with options up to 22. There are seven standard exterior colors and 60+ more available(!) and several veneer finishes (naturally) inside the stunning cockpit. The ragtop can be had in seven different colors, including, for the first time, tweed. The top, by the way, can raise or lower itself in 19 seconds at vehicle speeds of up to 30 mph.

The Execution

When I first get in the GT V8, it smells and looks so good inside I’m thinking I’d be happy to just sit here for a while. So that’s what I do, taking in the as-expected fantastic materials and build quality. Mostly, though, I’m entertaining myself with the rotating display, a must-have option. It has an easy to read and use 12.3-inch touchscreen housed in a three-sided unit. Touch a button and it revolves the veneer around to show the touchscreen or three elegant-looking analogue dials for outside temp, a compass and a chronograph. So cool.

Fire it up and its rumbly V8 idles like a not-too-well muffled Cup car. I sit another minute just to listen to the engine and bask in the interior.

Time to go. And I do mean go. No car this big and heavy can possibly be this fast, can it? Stab the accelerator and the V8 is putting the power down in a big hurry, roaring all the way. I swear the big coupe does a wheelie. Pretty sure it doesn’t, it’s just that the acceleration is so brutal. The front tires do their best to help with some traction. The old all-wheel drive system had a 40/60 front/rear torque split with the new one defaulting to rear-wheel drive until it senses the rear wheels slipping (and believe me they do!!), then it directs at most 38 percent torque frontward. This car is so close to being supercar fast from a stop or once rolling. The torque is seemingly unending and the eight-speed dual clutch, a development of Porsche’s PDK, works great with near instantaneous, smooth shifts.

2019 Bentley Continental GT is offered in this mossy, “alpine green” color.

2019 Bentley Continental GT is offered in this mossy, “alpine green” color.

2019 Bentley Continental GT is offered in this mossy, “alpine green” color.

2019 Bentley Continental GT is offered in this mossy, “alpine green” color.

2019 Bentley Continental GT is offered in this mossy, “alpine green” color.

2019 Bentley Continental GT is offered in this mossy, “alpine green” color.

2019 Bentley Continental GT is offered in this mossy, “alpine green” color.

2019 Bentley Continental GT is offered in this mossy, “alpine green” color.

2019 Bentley Continental GT is offered in this mossy, “alpine green” color.

2019 Bentley Continental GT is offered in this mossy, “alpine green” color.











Bentley’s Dynamic Ride active antiroll bars are standard, and that might be the most-important sentence in this whole review because thanks to the system both the coupe and convertible GTs handle Napa Valley’s twisty roads with far more grace and ease — and speed of course — than a car this big should have.

Drive modes are comfort, Bentley, sport and custom but the car feels superb in any of them. Comfort is plush, Bentley mode firms things a little and sport is the firmest ride and offers the gnarliest engine sounds. Really, though, they’re all good: There seems to be the perfect amount of body control while the car just rockets from corner to corner seamlessly and comfortably.

The convertible drives every bit as nicely, but choosing a GT convertible over the coupe costs an additional $19,850, if that matters to you.

On Sale: Fall

Base Price: $201,225

Drivetrain: 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, 8-speed dual clutch, AWD

Output: 542 hp @ 5,750 rpm; 568 lb ft @ 1,960 rpm

Curb Weight: 4,773 lb

Pros: Fast, elegant, beautiful

Cons: I wish the shift paddles were a little bigger but man, it’s hard to come up with anything

The Takeaway

My day in the Continental GT V8 ends way too soon. Probably needless to say the Bentley powered around Napa’s twisty roads with speed, poise and stability few cars, if any, can match. Drive from Detroit to LA and back? No problem. A Continental GT is likely the car I’d pick. And yes, with the performance difference so small, I’d save the near $20 grand and get the V8.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.

2019 Bentley Continental GTC convertible in “jetstream” blue.















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