Bentley Continental

The 2018 Bentley Continental lineup now comprises six models: GT V8, GT V8 S, GT, GT Speed and Supersports. Convertible variants are available as well for the V8 and W12.

The mammoth 6.0L W12 engine featured on the "W12" model in the Supersports makes a staggering 700-hp and 750 lb-ft of torque, while the Speed is tuned to produce 626-hp and 607 lb-ft of torque. The standard W12 engine makes 582-hp and 531 pound-feet of torque. V8 models are powered by a 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8, making 500 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque in the standard V8. The V8 S bumps this number to 521-hp and 502 lb-ft.

All Continentials come with 8-speed automatic transmissions and all-wheel drive. This combo enables V8 models to get to 60 mph in under five seconds, and a top speed of more than 180 mph. W12 models will get to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds. The Supersports stands in its own class with a 3.4 second 0-60 mph time and a 209-mph top speed.

The all-wheel drive system also helps in both challenging weather conditions as well as challenging roads. The system is capable of sending up to 60 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels when needed to help it feel more nimble out of tight corners. All Continental models, no matter the engine or body style, also get an 'S' sport mode and steering-wheel paddle-shifters.

Continental GT V8 and V8 S models are also slightly better on gas than the other W12 models in the lineup. Just like the V8 the W12 is now equipped with cylinder-deactivation technology that allows them to smoothly and almost imperceptibly switch off half of their cylinders when coasting or cruising at lower speeds. Base V8 models are capable of a very respectable 24 mpg highway, which allows a cruising range of more than 500 miles and the W12 is capable of 20mpg.

All the Continental models are large, spacious 2-doors, with plenty of space for even the tallest drivers and front passengers to sprawl out in. There are two rear seating positions, and while smaller adults might find them fine, they might be challenging for larger adults. Trunk space is decent for a convertible, too. Most models come with a Continuous Damping Control air suspension system, which includes four different settings spanning the range between comfort cruising and serious track driving.

The Continental GT V8 S is offered in coupe and convertible forms and includes a stiffer suspension tune (lowered nearly a half-inch), sharper steering and a more vocal, sporty exhaust sound, along with 'S' styling cues throughout. All the V8 Continental models get special 'figure-8' tailpipe, a black gloss matrix grille with chrome frame, a red enamel Bentley 'B' badge and a dark lower valance in back.

The Continental Supersports with its specially tuned 6.0-liter W-12 engine allows it to produce an astounding 700-hp and 750 lb-ft of torque through a lightly modified ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. The Supersports sits .4 inches lower with stiffer suspension dampening, spring rates, and bushings. The Torque vectoring system greatly reduces understeer by applying braking to the appropriate wheels, utilizing oversized carbon ceramic brakes. The interior features unique Alcantara inserts on the steering wheel, central shifter and stitched Supersports logos on the headrests.

The GT Speed packs its own specially tuned version of the W12 that makes 626-hp and 607 lb-ft of torque. It adds special adaptive control software for the transmission, to help get the most performance and extra grippy Pirelli PZero high-performance tires, as well as a number of visual changes like a dark-tinted grille and 'rifled' exhaust pipes. Together, this setup can get to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds and to a top speed of 206 mph.

The list of choices for options, accessories, trims and customization extras is vast, and the price could easily rise tens of thousands customizing the car. The so-called Mulliner Driving Specification adds a set of great upgrades such as quilted leather, drilled-alloy pedals, painted alloy wheels and a knurled gear lever. Other options packed in some of the pricier packages include adaptive cruise control, ventilated seats with massage and a rearview camera system. There are many chances to upgrade to real-wood veneers, or to upgrade upholstery. The pricey, but impressive "Naim for Bentley" premium audio system may be among the best in-car audio systems available anywhere.

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Here's a little life hack for all you hifalutin Bentley buyers: Get the V8 engine. It was true of the last-generation Continental GT and Flying Spur, and it's true now of the Bentayga SUV. Bentley's less-expensive V8 models are simply more satisfying to drive, and don't sacrifice one hand-crafted inch of style or substance.

Perhaps the best example of Bentley's V8 goodness is found here, in the 2020 Continental GT. The 626-horsepower, W12-powered Continental is already a goddamn delight. But the lighter, more eager V8 loosens the GT's collar, turning this grand tourer into an athlete that's far more eager to please.

The V8 engine is a familiar one: Bentley's twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter unit, which makes a stout 542 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. Working with a buttery-smooth, eight-speed automatic transmission, the GT V8 Coupe can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in a scant 3.9 seconds. The GT V8 Convertible does this same sprint in 4.0. Regardless of body style, the GT V8 is three-tenths of a second slower to reach 60 mph than the W12-powered variants.

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