The Continental name has been a part of the Bentley family since the early 1950s. Though the 2014 Bentley New Continental GTC V8 S ($216,000) remains relatively unchanged in its iconic style and interior club room feel (which rivals Ron Burgundy’s rich mahogany office), what’s under the skin of this Monaco Yellow grand touring torpedo sets it apart from previous generations.
The biggest change is the replacement of the 567 horsepower twin-turbo W12 with a 521 horsepower twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, which accomplishes two major goals: better fuel economy and more performance. By taking four cylinders offline until needed, the GTC V8 S is able to manage roughly 24 mpg on the freeway, good for roughly 500 miles between fill-ups. It’s about convenience more than saving on gas money; if you can afford this fine automobile, you’re prepared to dish out the dollars to drive.
The lighter engine, recalibrated steering, lowered air suspension and stiffer anti-roll bars make a noticeable difference on tight turns, lightening the toes of this tap-dancing gorilla. 501 lb-ft of torque available at 1,700 rpm is the sauce that kicks it to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, releasing a throaty growl from figure-eight exhaust pipes. The front splitter, side sills and rear diffuser keep the car grounded when pegging the gauge at 192 mph, and the rubber-wrapped 21-inch limited edition wheels are not only beautiful but add stickiness without impairing the characteristic smooth-as-glass road feel. Watch the optional carbon ceramic brakes: they’ll stop the car but not your organs, erasing speed faster than an ex-girlfriend’s phone number.
Sure, the athletic Continental isn’t as flashy and showy as its aristocratic father, the Mulsanne, but any car with “Beluga Black” as a color option is certainly in a different league. Despite all the diamond stitching, flashy coloring and hefty price tag, the GTC V8 S feels approachable and is another win for the Brits as they continue to showcase what they do best: bespoke beauty, high-end comfort and the ability to make us long for a different life — or at least a larger income stream.