In the twelve years it’s been around, the Continental GT has been a big success story for Bentley. It’s best known for its huge 12-cylinder engine, but the smaller 4.0-litre V8 option has always arguably been the sweet spot in the Conti range.
Now that V8 is available with two turbos, boosting power from 500bhp to 521bhp, delivering a 192mph top speed and reducing the 0-62mph time to just 4.5 seconds – which is pretty impressive for something weighing more than 2.2 tonnes.
The S Coupé also gets slightly lowered and stiffened suspension, a more precise steering setup and a traction control system that’s been adjusted to provide a bit more fun from the all-wheel drive chassis.
The W12 engine continues with a power hike of its own but this new twin-turbo V8 is in no way shamed by it. It gives you all the performance and refinement you could ever wish for. With the optional sport exhaust fitted (part of the £14,380 Extended Sport Specification pack that includes carbo-ceramic brakes and a scattering of carbonfibre trim pieces), there’s a purposeful burble in town that builds to a bellowing rasp at higher speeds.
It’s not just noise, either. Put the chrome gearlever into Sport and the V8 S’s five-star flow of torque will bring a smile to the lips of the most emotionless plutocrat. Though peak torque isn’t scheduled to arrive until 1700rpm, there’s serious, scrabble-free lunge on demand from 1500rpm.
There are more agile B-road cars, certainly, but the sweeter front end is a worthwhile improvement and even leadfooted drivers will struggle to undo the huge grip. With the air suspension on its squishiest setting, the V8 S is a peerless conveyance at motorway speeds. Few cars at any price can touch the Bentley’s top-drawer cabin ambience. Everything you touch conveys a sense of solidity and permanence.
The S is £9500 dearer than the standard V8 Coupé, but it’s worth the extra if you like the idea of ramping up the action when the moment seems right.