Currently reading: Bentley Continental GT long-term test review - enjoying an elastic V8
We’ve not had it long, but our Continental GT has already started racking up the miles

Our three-year-old pre-owned Conti GT V8 has been accumulating miles at an alarming rate. We’ve had it just four weeks and the mileage has already climbed from just over 21,000 when it left Bentley Birmingham (from whom the former owner bought another car) to 22,700.

It’s one of those cars that simply eats distance. We picked it up in Crewe, drove back to London for meetings, then used it the next day for a London to Midlands return dash. That was 450 miles in the first 24 hours, right there.

Even so, I’m surprised by the GT on dynamic grounds. My first impressions of Continentals were gathered during an early comparison of a GT W12 and an Aston DB9, a car we judged to be aiming at broadly the same buyers. The Bentley seemed heavy and unresponsive against the agile, road-hugging Aston, and its 6.0-litre engine was powerful but rather ‘buzzy’ beside the Aston’s V12.

The GT moved on, yet I’m surprised by just how far. Bentley has been fanatical about development, and there’s now an intuitive sophistication built into everything the car does. Steering that seemed ponderous is now appropriately firm but pleasingly sensitive; a chassis that seemed reluctant to change direction now transmits your every desire to the road. The ride is quiet and flat in any of its four selectable modes.

The outstanding element for me, though, is the engine. Like many, I viewed the twin-turbo 4.0 V8 as a kind of starter engine, not least because it is used in a motley line-up of lesser VW Group cars. But I was forgetting the Bentley fanaticism; Crewe has found a unique sound and tune for the V8 and put its power through a smart eightspeed automatic transmission.

My abiding impression after this first 1600 miles is that this car’s performance and elastic torque simply feel too big for a 4.0-litre capacity, blown or not. The engine note in Sport is refined but sublime. In fact, all you really lack with a V8 are bragging rights. I’m happy to go without them.

Bentley Continental GT V8

Price new (2013) £125,000; Price now £89,950; Economy 24.8mpg; Faults None; Expenses None; Last seen 13.1.16

Previous Bentley Continental GT reports

First report – the Bentley Continental GT joins our fleet

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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RPF 6 February 2016

Does Cropley do anything else

Does Cropley do anything else other than sponge freebies?
abkq 6 February 2016

I'd rather have a Phaeton

I'd rather have a Phaeton with its quiet elegance than this bloated Bentley nonsense.
Mark_N 6 February 2016

A VW Pheaton in All but Name

I visited VW's vanity project glass manufacturing plant in Dresden a couple of years ago where the unloved, apart from in China, Pheaton is made. At the time, even the Chinese had had enough and sales were in decline and to fill the spare manufacturing capacity, they were making Continentals alongside the Pheaton in a free mix on the same line, one after the other.

Stripped of its bolt-on front wings, it was difficult to tell the cars apart when all you are looking at is the painted body-in-white and they're installing the wiring loom.

It all came across as a rather cynical exercise and any warm feelings punters may get by thinking they're buying hand-craftsmanship from Crewe were instantly blown away. The guide admitted as much. The Contis made there were not going to be sold in Germany. Germans hang on to the idea of traditional British craftsmanship and insist on a Crewe car. It's so much nonsense.