Bentley claims that the new Audi-derived V-8, which they are presenting in the Continental lineup at the Detroit Auto Show next month, is “widening the appeal of the latest generation of Continentals.” Which is polite speak for “entry-level model.” But if you’re lusting after German-derived Anglophile highway-crushing luxury, don’t let that dissuade you from your latest issue of the DuPont Registry. The new V-8 promises to be just as capable of shuttling you from Nice to Cannes at much the same velocity.
Currently, the Continental features just one engine: the mighty 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W-12 that pumps out 567 horsepower. This new V-8 also features two turbochargers, but at 4.0 liters it’s a bit smaller, and produces “only” 500 hp, just within earshot of the lofty Double You.
(Of course, the massaged and fettled W-12 in the Supersports model produces a dizzying 631 horsepower—but if you’re cross-shopping that against the V-8, your priorities may need some more fine-tuning.)
What’s the big difference, then? Well, even rich people don’t fancy having to pay for their own gasoline, especially if they’ve reached the upper spending limits of their corporate AMEXes this month. To wit, Bentley claims that the smaller engine should get 40 percent better fuel economy than the “big-block,” which after punching it into a Casio wristwatch calculator equates to 17 mpg city, and 27 mpg on the highway (where the big Bentley belongs). The V-8 Continental achieves this with an eight-speed automatic transmission and advanced engine internals such as direct injection. According to Bentley, it will still do 0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds, while hitting over 180 miles per hour. By contrast, the mileage figures for the 12-cylinder engine are 12 mpg city and 19 mpg highway.
An updated front bumper, a glossy black grille, 20-inch wheels and “figure-eight-shaped” exhausts round out the exterior visual details. Inside, there’s still the same supple blend of cow and tree, now with a few more shades of tree added to the options list. Pricing, of course, has not been announced. It seems that even an “entry-level” Bentley still adheres by the rule: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.