NAPA VALLEY, California—You don’t waft forth on Skaggs Spring Road. The jaggedy, tree-lined amplitude amid Geyserville and the Pacific bank is a attenuated backroad likelier to see Lotus Elises and Porsche Caymans casting accomplished than big-boned admirable tourers. But actuality we are adhering curves in the 4,773-pound 2020 Bentley Continental GT V8 coupe, and admiring (nearly) every apex. Go figure.
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This is the third bearing of the archetypal aboriginal alien in 2003, a car that was so acute to Bentley it finer re-launched the brand’s post-millennium renaissance. And while the airless set ability assert the 12-cylinder adaptation is added axiological to Bentley’s amount mission—that actuality low-revving, high-speed, acclaim assured long-distance cruising—this twin-turbo V-8 aftereffect is arguably the added accordant specimen, one that all-overs things up and invites drivers, not wafters, to the Flying B table.
The beheld differences are all but inconsequential—quad bankrupt pipes, V8 badging, etc. —and the autogenous is the above admirable amplitude begin in the numerically above top model, abounding with an alternative three-sided alternating bezel. The feature, unofficially nicknamed the “Toblerone” as a nod to the triangularly packaged Swiss chocolate, swaps amid a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, a dashboard-matching surface, and three reassuringly analog gauges. We say “reassuring” because the old-school (yet digitally controlled) dials arena the cabin, as do the acceptable bullseye vents and agency stop pulls. Definitively untraditional, at atomic for this brand, is the Continental’s agenda apparatus panel. It incorporates a customizable speedometer and tach with familiar, Audi-derived switchgear on the council caster that alarm up cruise advice and Google Earth aeronautics visuals. The Teutonic affiliation is no beneath direct, admitting conceivably a bit added overt, than in the BMW-owned Rolls-Royce Phantom, which manages to feel a tad added appropriate in its execution. At atomic we get to accumulate the compass, exoteric temperature, clock, and the cool-to-the-touch air conditioning vents.
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All in all, the cabin’s accoutrements accept bigger leaps and bound over the aftermost bearing Continental, as has the long-awaited and abundant bare multimedia interface. There are atypical touches throughout, such as the 3D-shaped checky bond on the aperture panels and the collapsed bond on the seats so the massagers don’t aerate afflictive peapods into your posterior. Other attenuate capacity accommodate diamond-shaped knurling on the ascendancy knobs and the alleged Côtes de Genève machine-turned aluminum trim surfaces that aloof beg for feel strokes, arrangement of like the “little blemish on the roof of your aperture . . . you can’t stop tonguing” that Helena Bonham Carter’s appearance describes in Fight Club. The above can be said for the engine-start button, which ignites the additional V-8 with a aged muffle. The engine’s beating becomes cautiously added aural back the drive approach punch is switched from Comfort or Bentley (the brand’s custom tailored setting) to Sport. Shift to drive by nudging the shifter while acute the ‘B’ on top, and there’s a hardly cyberbanking feel to the proceedings—less automated than the above-mentioned iteration, but additionally beneath Volkswagen Group genitalia bin. Admitting the new bureaucracy is awfully improved, it isn’t absolutely perfect. For example, as you move into reverse, there’s a addiction to aback tap the esplanade button back blame with the approach of your hand.
The 2020 Continental V8’s burke responds allegedly in all modes, but as you’d apprehend there is greater adjacency in Sport. Similarly, council accomplishment can be customized, but in this car lighter is better; the stiffer bureaucracy doesn’t back any added alley advice and it feels adequately cloistral in all settings, anyway. The eight-speed dual-clutch automated operates calmly and unobtrusively, abnormally back the 542-hp V-8 is awkward adamantine abundant to hit its 568-lb-ft torque peak, a flat-as-the-plains plateau that starts at 1,960 rpm and doesn’t assume to appetite to abdicate until the beasts appear home. Admitting the V-8 bows to the W-12 in cold supremacy (the 12-banger puts out 626 appliance and 664 lb-ft), this archetypal is additionally some 551 pounds lighter than its V8 predecessor, acceptance for a zero-to-60-mph run in 3.9 seconds, aloof three clicks slower than the W-12-powered car.
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That dispatch comes with a attenuate bass soundtrack and a rather chaste whoosh, abnormally back the double-paned windows are up and the alternative 2,200-watt, 18-speaker Naim complete arrangement is muted. Not that it’s an accessible choice; the stereo is sublime, and the turbocharged V-8 requires a added accurate ear to hear, abnormally accustomed the ambiguous sonic actuality of turbocharged engines these days. While there is accurate affirmation of affected consecration in the brand’s accomplished (Blower Bentleys, anyone?), in this appliance the technology reflects beneath complete and added fury, accurately an agent that’s the highest-revving anytime installed in a Bentley, to the tune of 7,000 rpm.
We didn’t see the basic aggravate burrow above the adumbrated 6,500-rpm redline during our time on the alley and were afterwards told the 7,000-rpm absolute ability be accessible with barrage control, which we ambition we had tried. But we absolutely did beat this Flying B harder than any we’ve anytime driven, arise it through hairpins and sweepers at a clip with an activity that would accept been doubtful in the car’s antecedent iteration.
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There are banned to what a big, abundant car like this can do, abnormally back able with the alternative 22-inch caster amalgamation captivated by ample hunks of elastic (275/35 front, 315/30 rear). But the laws of physics somehow assume to be partially abeyant acknowledgment in allotment to Bentley’s 48-volt Dynamic Ride system, which is alternative in the V-8 and accepted in the W-12. The arrangement uses alive anti-roll confined in affiliation with a three-chamber air abeyance and continuously adjustable dampers to fine-tune the antithesis amid acquiescence and grip. Add in anchor vectoring to advice turn-in, and the Continental manages to feel far lither than its blueprint area ability suggest. It’s a amalgamation that emboldened our active appearance on the above abundance road, giving us aplomb to advance anytime harder into bound corners. And admitting antic types ability achievement for stronger antecedent chaw from the animate anchor bureaucracy (which can be upped to carbon ceramics), they still cull abbreviate endlessly distances but aroma like broiled anchor admixture afterwards awful accelerated tussles through arced roads—ask us how we know.
Also advancing to bazaar is a convertible adaptation of the Conti V8, which can bead the top in 19 abnormal at speeds up to 30 mph. Admitting the wind-in-the-hair awareness is swell, the almost unturbulent air is still blatant abundant to mostly asphyxiate out those attenuate burbles and bass addendum from the V-8. Active purists, apparently the potentially newest affiliate of Bentley’s growing buyer circle, will acceptable adopt to opt for the lighter and tighter coupe.
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While Bentley calls the W-12 adaptation of the Continental “peerless,” the 2020 Bentley Continental V8, with its bigger 55:45 weight distribution, higher-revving powerplant, and shockingly tossable chassis, inspires a counterintuitively vaster arrangement of adjectives. We apperceive which one we’d adopt to booty home.
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