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CAR OF THE MONTH February 2013

2013 Bentley Continental GT V8

High-Performance Luxury Coupe

A three-quarter front view of a 2013 Bentley Continental GT V8

In short: A more economical, V8 version of Bentley's Continental coupe.

Bentley Continental Review

In its tenth year since its release under Volkswagen ownership, the Bentley Continental is a true commercial success. And to ensure continued success, here comes a new option for would-be Bentley buyers: the 2013 Bentley Continental GT V8. Swapping out the Continental's usual W12 in favor of a twin-turbocharged V8, this "entry-level" edition of Bentley's signature coupe is designed to have drivers save both at the dealership and at the pump. Achieving an estimated 26 mpg highway, the more economical Continental GT V8 reduces fuel consumption by up to 40 percent over W12-equipped models while still offering 500 horsepower and a blistering 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds — quite a feat for a 5,000-pound automobile. However, "economical" is a relative term when talking about Bentleys.

Our Thunder color tester was an attractive and sweet ride — not only a car you can drive every day but also one you'll want to drive every day. It's easy to fall in love with this impeccable model. Power is ample and technology abounds, but a blind spot detecting system would be nice. The Bentley Continental GT V8 comes with an eight-channel, eight-speaker system, with 15GB of storage for music. Tunes can be played via iPod, MP3 player, the car's own six-disc CD changer or even an SD card. Cabin allocation is ample in the front with the cobra-head seats and their integrated headrests designed to create more legroom for rear passengers, although only small children would enjoy being driven in that configuration.

An interior view of the 2013 Bentley Continental GT V8

The twin-turbocharged V8 engine of the 2013 Bentley Continental GT V8

You have to love the lines of the Continental GT V8. The car's panels are made using Superforming, a technique where 5083 grade aluminum is heated to 932 degrees Fahrenheit and shaped around a die using air pressure. This allows for crisp, sharp lines without seams. In front, a twin set of headlamps are ringed by jewel-like LED lights. At the rear, Bentley's signature "floating" LED lights draw one's eye to the extremities of the car, recalling a grand classic in a modern execution. The Bentley Continental GT V8 boasts a glossy black mesh grille ringed in chrome with a sporty dam incorporating three large air intake surfaces. For this edition of the Continental, the designers at Crewe gave it a red enamel winged "B" badge on the hood, trunk and wheel center caps. As well, an exclusive 21" wheel accentuates the sporty looks of the vehicle.

Keyless entry followed by a push-button start gets the smooth 8-cylinder motor roaring. The 8-speed ZF transmission with Quickshift and steering column-mounted gearshift paddles get it moving and apply power as gently as you wish to the permanent all-wheel drive with 40:60 front-to-rear torque split. Engage Sport mode for an even more aggressive powertrain expression and signature exhaust noise.

Standard exterior paint comes in seven colors: Beluga, Dark Sapphire, Glacier White, Moonbeam, Onyx, St. James' Red, and Thunder. A suite of options can customize your trophy, from more exterior colors to a multitude of interior decorative items like a knurled sports gear lever and two-tone leather seats.

A new Bentley V8 should be enjoyed on a long, rewarding (or romantic) drive; with up to 530 miles between fill-ups due to its fuel efficiency and sizeable 20 gallon tank, your journey needs have few interruptions. Like an affair with a supermodel, the Bentley Continental GT V8 will remain a dream for most, as a seat behind the wheel of this ultra-luxurious sports car will still run you in the $200,000 range.

A three-quarter rear view of a 2013 Bentley Continental GT V8

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View more photos of the Bentley Continental GT V8
Watch a video of the Bentley Continental GT V8

Warranty/Service: 3-year/unlimited mile basic; 3-year/unlimited mile drivetrain; 3-year/unlimited mile roadside; 3-year/unlimited mile rust.

Base Price: $174,000 / As tested: $211,300

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front engine, all-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe

Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with direct injection
Horsepower: 500 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 487 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Curb weight: 5,060 lbs
Wheelbase: 108.1 in
Length/Width/Height: 189.2/76.5/55.3 in

carbon ceramic brakes with black brake callipers; ABS with electronic brake distribution

Traction: electronic stability and traction control with hydraulic brake assist

0-60 mph: 4.6 seconds
Top Speed: 188 mph

EPA City: 17 mpg
EPA Highway: 26 mpg

driver and front passenger airbags; driver knee airbag

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Photography: AlphaMedia

(Updated: 02/20/13 NW)

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