Any car that weighs at least 2320kg yet can still sprint to 60mph in 4.6sec and to 100mph in 10.9sec is not exactly short of a spot of shove. Bentley’s forced-induction 6.0-litre W12 engine produces 582bhp from 5998cc in the Continental GT. Just as enticing is the prospect 516lb ft of torque.
The Continental GT’s engine is from the top division of internally combusted performance, capable of delivering great gobs of urge at will. The key to the flexibility comes not when the engine is making 6000rpm and peak power, but when the big turbochargers begin to spool up. This exceptional powerplant makes its peak torque at just 1700rpm.
At pretty much any revs, in any gear, the W12 Bentley is as flexible as you’d hope for a car whose primary purpose is to make countries feel smaller. Squirt the throttle at the start of a motorway sliproad at 30mph and 4.2sec later you’ll be at 70mph. Do the same at 50mph and 70mph is just 2.4sec away.
The annoyance caused by the earlier six-speed automatic gearbox has been replaced with an eight-speed version, which allows the engine to settle down quicker into a hushed silence. However, what the Conti lacks is being able to just electronically select ‘D’ and then run the show from brilliantly placed column shifters, which add an air of sophistication to an Aston Martin’s or Ferrari’s drivetrain that the Bentley’s ill-placed and plasticky-feeling paddles can’t match.
The new Audi-sourced, but Bentley-built, twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, meanwhile, makes a compelling case for itself with improved thermal management, an optimised, on-demand electrical system, lower-rolling-resistance tyres and a cylinder deactivation mode.
Any lingering doubt you might have had that, with the removal of four cylinders, Bentley might have removed some of the more compelling aspect’s of the Continental’s performance linger no longer than it takes for your right foot to propel the pedal from rest to carpet. According to the manufacturer's figures, the 500bhp V8 can urge the Continental from 0-62mph in 4.8sec and on to a top speed of 188mph. It also returns a claimed 26.7mpg on the combined cycle compared to the bigger-engined car's 17.1mpg.
As far as we’re concerned, unless you’re particularly fascinated by the engineering layout of the 6.0-litre W12 model, there is absolutely no reason to look beyond the V8, particularly given the extra economy it offers.