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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.

At our test track, the GTC accelerated from a standstill to 60mph in 4.5 sec, and on to 100mph in just 10.8sec. Given that, a few moments earlier, the V8 had tipped our scales at a fairly monumental 2530kg, that is no mean feat. Bentley's aim was to reduce fuel consumption with this car but, evidently, didn't necessarily ally that to a particular drop in weight. It's only 15kg less than the W12 GTC we road tested in 2006.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Editor-at-large
The Audi-sourced 4.0-litre V8 has been tweaked by Bentley to generate 7lb ft more torque for 487lb ft in all

However, it isn't so much the acceleration figures that impress, as the way that the V8 GTC goes about its business.

As befits a car sporting a winged 'B' on its prow, the GTC has a duality of character. Woofle about at low speeds and low revs and it'll shift gears on the eight-speed auto 'box almost imperceptibly, while emitting the kind of muted yet powerful-sounding exhaust 'whump' that makes a pleasing accompaniment to any automotive promenade.

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However, beyond 2750rpm on anything more than a moderate throttle opening, the V8's character changes, taking on a genuine eight-cylinder growl and adding a hefty dose of extra performance.

But just how much performance does it have compared with its W12 predecessor? Ample. The W12 convertible we road tested in 2006 actually wanted longer - 5.0sec - to hit 60mph from rest. 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 that it offers, which we'll come to in a moment.

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