It feels like it’s been a long time getting to this point. We first drove the new generation W12-powered Continental GT in May of last year. We loved it - although we all knew the V8 model was incoming, even if Bentley wouldn’t confirm it at the time. In March of this year, Crewe finally revealed the lighter, cheaper version, but with the caveat that it wouldn’t be available in the UK straightaway as the manufacturer sought to play catch-up in markets overseas.
Now, at last, the V8 is officially available to order in the UK for the new model year. And that’s a good thing because a) it’s a five-figure sum more affordable than the range-topping car and b) it’s very likely to be noticeably superior. Not superior in pace or pomp, of course - our affection for the W12 is total - but with 50kg gone from over the front axle, the V8, much like its predecessor, is almost certain to be the better driver’s car.
“Lively and engaging” Bentley calls it, and that sounds about right from a car that delivers 550hp and 568lb ft from a 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged engine it shares with the Porsche Panamera. With the V8 abroad you get 3.9 second-to-62mph performance away from the line, alongside the prospect of 198mph V-Max. No less importantly, the unit will disengage four cylinders when you’re not trying so hard - a familiar advantage obviously intended to enhance its reputation as the fuel-sipping GT.
Elsewhere the V8 comes with passive anti-roll bars as standard; if you want the funky (and very effective) active alternative, Bentley’s Dynamic Ride System is on the cost option list. Expect the model’s innards to be no less magnificent than the W12 version, although the real fun is to be had with the extensive - Bentley claims seven billion different permutations - amount of personalised ticking that can be done. If you’ve got a free afternoon (or even if you haven’t) the configurator for the new model year can be found here. And if it all gets the better of you, expect delivery in early Q4. Not a moment too soon.