Ever since their introduction in 2012, the V8 Bentley Continentals have made compelling cases for themselves: while losing none of the opulence that characterises the W12 models, they've offered a sharper, more engaging drive, with a soundtrack that knocks the bigger engine for six. All while being cheaper to buy.
It's therefore no surprise to find the V8 appear in the third generation GT range soon after the introduction of the W12. Described by Bentley as "combining driver-focussed performance with exquisite refinement and cutting edge technology", the V8 is again being offered in coupe and convertible GTC guises.
Now, the engine. Instinct would say, given what a stonking engine it was, that the old 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 would be carried over into this GT. Alas, that is not the case - this has a new 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8. Such is progress. To make it simpler to understand, see this twin test - the Bentley used to use the 3,993cc V8 and automatic once used in the RS7 and RS6, and now uses the 3,996cc V8 and dual-clutch as found in the Panamera Turbo. Indeed its outputs of 550hp and 568lb ft are identical to the Porsche, and mean half a second has been slashed from the 0-62mph time - Bentley claims four seconds flat for the Coupe, and 4.1 for the Convertible. Top speed for both models is 198mph, with a "characterful burble through the stylish quad exhaust pipes" also promised.
The new pipes are probably the best way to distinguish eight-cylinder GT from 12, in fact, the only other identifiers being front wing badges. Otherwise it's as you were for coupe and convertible outside, with 'Crown Cut Walnut' a new finish available for the interior (and a variety of exquisite wood veneers, if that doesn't suit. And eight roof lining colours for the GTC. And seven choices of roof colour...)
While those are surely bigger priorities for actual customers, those of a PH persuasion will be pleased to hear of the V8's weight saving against the W12. Previously the V8, despite the transformation in driving dynamics, was officially only 25kg lighter than the W12. Now that figure is believed to be in the region of 70kg (an official figure is yet to be released), which would make the new V8 2,175kg at the kerb. Not light, though something should probably be counted as better than nothing...
Still, given how warmly received the GT has been thus far, carrying over everything wholesale - including the three-chamber air suspension, continuously variable damping and active all-wheel drive - from W12 to V8 seems like a very wise idea. If it's anything like the previous Continental GT, there's every suggestion that this V8 will be the pick of the range; buyers will find out for themselves when European deliveries begin early next year. Orders are open now.