Right now a Bentley is not in my pay grade. But, after driving the 2013 Continental GT V8 coupe and the 2013 Continental GTC V8 convertible this past week, I am feverishly working on how to change that pay grade so I can get one.
These are Bentleys, after all, and Bentleys are among the select few handcrafted motorcars that genuinely epitomize craftsmanship, handsome styling, outstanding engineering and powerful performance that deliver owners the ultimate driving experience.
I would definitely consider the new 2013 Continental V8 GT or GTC if I were looking for an outstanding premium motor car.
Our opportunity to drive the new Bentley V8 GT and GTC came at the Texas introduction of the new 2013 Bentley Continental V8 at Bentley of Austin last week.
According to Sonny Morgan, the Dealer Principal of Bentley of Austin, the Texas debut of the new 2013 Bentley GT V8 coupe and GTC V8 convertible in Austin by Bentley President and COO, Christophe Georges was in recognition of Bentley of Austin’s leadership in selling Bentley motorcars in Texas.
The new 2013 Bentley GT V8 coupe starts at around $183,000 very well equipped, but you can add a nice range of extras and get it over $200,000 pretty quickly. The GTC convertible starts a bit higher and can run upwards of $250,000 as seen on the Magnolia custom color GTC that was in the showroom priced at $249,250.
The dealer does not “stock” cars in the traditional manner, but rather custom orders vehicles for his showroom that he believes will be desirable in the local market for interested prospects to see and drive. When the customer becomes serious about making the purchase, they sit down and essentially custom build their Bentley with the dealer consultants and place their order with the factory.
We drove a GT coupe and a GTC convertible following the introduction presentation by Bentley. Sonny cautioned me that these Continental V8’s can get you above the local speed limit very quickly. Rolling out of the drive and moving quickly to the on-ramp of 183, I was already over that limit as I merged with powerful elegance into traffic. I might add that being in “sport mode” and using the paddle shifters contributed to that slight transgression.
A couple of things, among the splendid array of hand built craftsmanship and elegant materials, that were impressive included the quietness of the cabins both coupe and convertible. We felt that the convertible was actually just a touch quieter. This is due to the multi-layer construction of the top (Bentley calls it a “hood”) that blocks all the road noise and eliminates any wind noise along with providing insulation from the Texas heat.
I am a strong critic of infotainment screens that do not have good resolution or fade in bright sunlight. The screens in the Bentley, both center stack and instrument cluster, are near 3D quality with excellent colors and very intuitive touch screen controls.
The variable displacement (for fuel efficiency) V8 was indiscernible as it shifted from 8 cylinders to 4 and back again. You did not feel it or hear it.
But you sure did feel and hear the subtle yet powerful rumble and roar of the unique “figure-8” exhaust as you laid the metal to the pedal.
Driving the 2013 Bentley Continental V8 GT is a fun, powerful, elegant and beautiful experience worthy of its Bentley motorcar heritage.
Bentley has always been a V12 motorcar and the decision to develop and deliver a V8 model was considered very carefully before approval according to Christophe Georges, Bentley President and COO.
“The US and China are emerging as leading markets for Bentley as we grow our brand”, said Georges. He added: “Though the V12 is iconic to the Bentley faithful, we recognized that there was tremendous potential in the US for a V8 motorcar due to its traditional acceptance as a performance power plant in high end vehicles in the US”.
The 2013 Continental GT/GTC V8 was engineered from the ground up for superior performance. The new 4.0 liter, 500 horsepower V8 is a variable displacement design the enables the engine to power down to four cylinders under light load conditions to improve fuel economy. Add to that the internal twin turbo charging, high pressure direct injection, low friction bearings, thermal management and energy recuperation via the charging system, this power plant not only sounds good, but performs extremely well.
During an opportunity to visit informally with Georges while we were getting ready to drive the new GT and GTC, we were able to talk further about the V8 decision. Georges stressed their focus was not only on developing the V8 power plant and transmission to deliver true motor car performance, but the new Continental needed to be lighter (aluminum body) and more nimble with all wheel drive and adding a Torsen differential with 40:60 rear biased power split in order to maximize the power train.
The result is a V8 that weighs in 5,065 pounds for the GT coupe and 5,445 pounds for the GTC convertible. This motorcar is 40% more fuel efficient than the V12 (estimated at 26-27 mpg combined city/highway) and is also faster than the V12 doing 0-60 in 4.6 seconds and topping out at 188 mph.
During earlier discussion, Georges was asked about the ongoing development of a Bentley SUV that may arrive in 2015. He confirmed that it is well along in the process as evidenced by the showing of an early pre-production version at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this spring. The SUV, named an EXP 9 F, is slated to have a 600 horsepower V12 as the main power plant. It was hinted that a V8 in this SUV might also be considered. Given the V8 decision for the GT and GTC in the US, Georges confirmed that it was under serious consideration for the SUV for the US market as well.
There are no diesels currently in the line or on the radar for Bentley even thought their parent company, Volkswagen, is an industry leader in diesel engine development and performance.
Georges answered a question about diesels by saying, “Bentleys are known for the powerful low end torque and you do not get that in a diesel. If market interest and demand should indicate the Bentley should have a diesel power plant in the future, we would consider it.”
Bentley of Austin is one of the John Eagle European group of high end motor car showrooms located in a more typical-to-a-store-front space at 12989 Research Boulevard (Highway 183) in North Austin.
“The intent and design of the facility to house a group of motorcar brands in this type of space was to create an environment that showcases the motorcars as true art in a gallery format worthy of their workmanship and performance attributes”, according to Morgan.
Morgan began working with Bentley in 2004 to get them to give the dealer franchise to his group in Austin. Finally in 2008, the Bentley brand was added to the fine motorcar group under John Eagle European management.
John Eagle European is part of the John Eagle group of dealerships, who own and operate 13 dealerships in Texas. In addition to Bentley, John Eagle European offers the complete line of Aston Martin, Lotus and Rolls Royce fine motorcars