WHAT’S THE POINT of a high performance car if you only ever drive it slowly? I’m gazing down at the mode dial of this Bentley Continental GT V8, feeling a pang of guilt that for 90 per cent of this drive it’s been switched into its tamest Comfort setting. It’s not that I’m particularly intimidated by the 404kW and 770Nm generated by the twin-turbo V8 up front, more that flinging a 2143kg extension of the Garrick Club at a corner seems faintly unseemly.
At this juncture, it’s worth mentioning that the eight-pot Conti has been around for a little while, arriving here in 2020. It’s always been a little overshadowed by its senior W12-engined sibling, and given that Bentley’s one of only five manufacturers who’ll sell a 12-cylinder engine in Australia – along with Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce - there’s a certain cachet in joining that exclusive Anglo-Italian club.
But should you? This brings us back to our initial question. There’s no doubt that if the asking price is a peripheral concern and you prefer to waft along on a pillowy wave of torque, you ought to buy the W12. It’s truly magnificent. Ask more of the Continental GT in terms of dynamics and the V8 version, with 50kg less heft sitting on its front axle, ought to be the preferable option.
That’s why I’m sitting at the bottom of Reefton Spur, one of Victoria’s fiercest ribbons of tarmac, clicking the Drive Dynamics selector into Sport mode. The spec sheet promises 0-100km/h in 4.0 seconds and ‘unrivalled ride and handling’ which seems quite a lofty aspiration. I’m fairly sure it’ll be rivalled, but I’m just wondering what by.
The Sport mode wicks up the Dynamic Ride system, in effect a 48v active anti-roll bar system that improves body control. It also adds some attitude to the exhaust note, sharpens the steering and throttle maps, tweaks the front/ rear torque split of the all-wheel drive system (from 62 per cent rear biased to 83 per cent) and bolsters the three-channel air springs in the Continuous Damping Control for reduced heave and pitch. But there’s still the little matter of 2165kg to consider. Yes, this is a 2+2 coupe that weighs much the same as a vast Audi Q8 SUV.
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