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When Bentley introduced the Continental GT 11 years ago it instantly became the must–have luxury grand tourer and established the company as a leading global brand, almost overnight. It was so successful that in London, where I worked at the time, they became a common sight on the streets to the extent that any rarity value was quickly eroded.
It was a deliberate ploy by Bentley that the Continental should be more affordable, and therefore appeal to a new range of potential buyers. They had to produce a car that was within the financial reach of people who may never have dreamed of owning a Bentley and yet retain a certain exclusivity to ensure the brand did not lose any of its integrity.
They succeeded because although more people can now afford to drive one of their cars, boosting sales, you still need to be reasonably wealthy and their top of the range models are still strictly for the super-rich so exclusivity remains intact.
Since 2003 the Continental has gone from strength to strength and is now considered to be the most stylish luxury grand tourer in the world. Originally, it was powered solely by a six-litre W12 engine but the entry-level car is now powered by a more efficient four-litre, twin turbo V8.
The base models of the coupe and convertible versions are terrific cars and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better there is a sportier version, the Continental GT V8 S.
I have been lucky enough to drive a few Bentleys and every one of them has felt special with individual personalities, such is the quality of this car and the S continues that trend. It has been given a sharper feel, is sleeker, faster and more responsive with a lowered and uprated chassis giving it a more aggressive attitude.
The V8 now packs 521 bhp, torque of 680nm and a 0-100kmh time of just 4.7 seconds, accompanied by a lovely throaty growl from that engine.
Power is provided to the all wheel drive system via an excellent close-ration ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox and there are paddle-shifts for more direct involvement. I don’t like to grumble about a car as good as this but I wish they would ditch those cumbersome paddle-shifters for something a little more elegant.
Despite the power boost this car is still incredibly fuel efficient and you can travel up to 805km between fill-ups. The new chassis system which includes lowered sports suspension, revised damping, a stiffened rear anti-roll bar, upgraded stability control and a recalibrated steering system makes the car more precise and therefore more enjoyable to drive.
You have to take into consideration that this is still a fairly heavy beast but once you factor that in, it handles magnificently. With the roof down this car looks sensational and adds a new dimension to the driving experience.
Inside, there is the usual Bentley splendour with the highest grade leathers, wood veneers, polished metals and deep-pile carpeting. The V8 S features a unique contrast centre-stripe for the hide-trimmed roof lining, matched to the colour of the main upholstery, adding a very modern and sporty touch.
The infotainment system uses the very latest technology and the car’s systems are displayed on an eight-inch touchscreen.
The V8 S is a superb addition to the ever growing Continental stable and only confirms that in Bentley’s case you never can have too much of a good thing. Another Bentley, another triumph.
Why Buy It
Superb build quality,
Apart from the price which is what you would expect to pay for a car of this quality, there is no reason why not.
Continental GT V8 S Convertible – Specs
Manufacturer : Bentley
Production : 2013 to present
Class : Grand Tourer
Body style : Four-seater
Layout : All wheel drive
Engine : 4-litre twin turbo V8
Output : 521 bhp
Torque : 680nm
0-100km : 4.7 seconds
Transmission : 8-speed auto with paddle-shifts
Kerb weight : 2,470kg
Top speed : 308kmh
Price : From Dh816,000
Rating out of 10: 9
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