Anticipation is probably the greatest skill you can have on some of the UAE’s roads where it’s always best to expect the unexpected.
I like to think I am prepared for most things, like people swerving in front of me because they have just seen the motorway exit they want and risk life and limb, both theirs and anyone unlucky enough to be in their path, in a determined effort to reach it, tailgaters, lane weavers, and people who slam on their brakes for no apparent reason.
However, I have to admit that my powers of anticipation were completely defeated while cruising along the Emirates Road in Dubai feeling pretty smug behind the wheel of the new Bentley Continental GT V8 S.
An extraordinary sequence of events unfolded in a matter of a few insane seconds as I was barrelling along in the third lane on my way to a polo event. I saw a car about 300 yards in front of me suddenly swerve to the right, followed by another car swerving in the opposite direction.
I assumed they were trying to avoid an accident which was about to happen or had just occurred and so my senses went into alert mode because the last thing I wanted was to damage what is a very expensive Bentley.
Then, to my utter amazement I found myself hurtling towards an Oryx…yes, a young antelope that was bounding along the road in a state of terrified panic.
Now, some people believe speed kills, but let me tell you that in this particular case it almost certainly saved the life of the Oryx and me from having to ring Bentley to tell them there was an antelope sized dent in the front of their car.
I put pedal to metal and the Bentley responded immediately with a throaty growl as I steered out of the antelope’s somewhat haphazard path and hurtled past the poor animal which, thankfully, somehow made it to the side of the road and relative safety.
I tell that story because it marked a scary first in the many years I have been driving and because it provided an unexpected test of the Bentley’s prowess in accident avoidance thanks to its responsive power and agility. I have long been a fan of the Bentley Continental GT fleet which represents the best in luxury Grand Tourers and they have been given their first upgrade for five years.
Externally, the new GT V8 S has been tweaked with a revised front bumper incorporating what looks like an upside down aerofoil and designed to give the car a sporty appearance in line with its deep rooted motorsport heritage. Otherwise the face of the car is dominated by that famous Bentley dark mesh grille and front splitter.
The car has Beluga gloss lower body styling, has a 10mm lower ride height than its predecessor and a discreet rear spoiler. There are also new chrome fender vents which sit behind the front wheels which were previously only on the GT Speed.
Our test car has the Mulliner Driving Spec which means it sits on gorgeous 21-inch limited edition seven-spoke wheels which are the perfect match for the wonderful Glacier Blue colour which proved to be a real head turner. The interior has also been improved, which takes some doing because it was already delightfully opulent.
It retains a very British Gentleman’s Club feel of old school luxury with the expensive smell of high-grade leathers.
Our car’s interior had lashings of carbon-fibre trim which looked fantastic but if that’s not your style there are plenty of other bespoke options available. The Mulliner spec also comes with quilted indented leather seats, embroidered logos on the headrests, drilled alloy sports pedals and other luxurious additions.
There is lots of knurled chrome trim including the air con vents, which look like jet engines, airflow push rods and the gear lever. The instrument cluster combines traditional Bentley style with modern auto technology.
There is an eight-inch touchscreen to access the infotainment system and a Breitling clock finishes the whole thing off rather nicely. As you would expect there is also the usual connectivity for smartphones.
This latest GT V8 S comes with a new three-spoke steering wheel which has much better designed paddle-shifters which I found far too cumbersome in the older cars.
The incredible power comes from a four-litre twin turbo V8 engine with 520bhp and 680nm of torque. It puts the power down to the all wheel drive system via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and has enough muscle to propel this hefty vehicle – it weighs 2,295kg – from 0-100kmh in 4.5 seconds and to a top speed of 309kmh.
It also uses variable displacement which means it shuts down half of the engine cylinders if they are not required, saving fuel.
This car is incredibly agile for its size, thanks to its sports suspension, uprated anti-roll bars and revised damping, and, most important of all, it does all this whilst retaining complete composure, even in the face of an oncoming Oryx! It’s a class act.