Close your eyes and envision one of man’s most immaculate conceptions. It is not manufactured, but born with the soul and birthright of British kings. It is not bought or sold, it is inherited from a detailed lineage of resilient thoroughbreds. More importantly, your imaginative icon is not simply styled with the lead of a pencil, it is emotionally articulated and manifested from the passion of English artisans destined for greatness. Now awaken from your visions and look upon another immaculate conception, better known as the new Bentley Continental GT V8 S.
To embark upon one more worthy drive experience I headed to Rancho Santa Fe, California, to witness the latest interpretation of the Continental GT. The impeccable British coupe and convertible represent success, power and opulence for the carmaker from Crewe, England. Along with the addition of the 2015 Continental GT V8 S, Bentley guarantees its customer base a wide spectrum of individuality and personalization with bespoke V8 and W12 Grand Tourers.
The day began at the vehicle’s temporary 45-acre home, known as the Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa, which is highly coveted as one of the most sought after luxury resorts on the West Coast. Garnished with verdant gardens and olive groves, this luxuriant property emulated the proper lifestyle of a Bentley connoisseur in every regard. To play the part, I dressed with stately fashion in mind and chose a translucent Monaco Yellow ($4,395 for the optional paint job) convertible, imbued with Beluga leather, piano black and carbon fiber surfaces, and matching yellow cross-stitching ($1,905), including the steering wheel and “Winged-B” Bentley headrest logo.
My vehicle was also outfitted with the upgraded Seven Spoke, Black Limited Edition 21” Bentley rims ($4,390) and the $13,875 carbon ceramic brakes with red calipers (the largest braking system on a passenger vehicle) which contributes to a position of ultimate performance for the GT V8 S. The morning was still quite chilly so we kept the black 7-bow and 3-layer cloth top up until the sun began to shine later in the day. Without doubt, the cabin was as quiet as the Coupe I would later drive. You can also rest assured that trunk room is not compromised by the fabric roof. However, the challenge was to decipher the acoustic nuances of the flawless Naim for Bentley audio system ($7,300) or the thunderous soundtracks of the sports exhaust ($2,480). I couldn’t go wrong either way, so off I drove in my $216,200 (full options $276,985) Continental GT V8 S.
The joys of this all-wheel drive vehicle is its ability to transfer between the relaxed, touring mode or ultimate sports performance by way of adjustable height suspension and shock settings. In S-mode for example, the GT V8 S called upon its racing heritage to take on the winding mountain roads with aplomb. Power emanates from a 4-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 521 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque at 1,700 rpms while an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission with black stretched out paddle shifters handles the shifts. Noteworthy performance enhancements included a 10 mm lowered ride height, 45% front and 33% rear stiffer suspension, 15% increased anti-roll stiffness and variable displacement, which turns the V8 into a 4-cylinder for improved fuel economy when the extra power is not needed. The technological breakthroughs from Crewe help the coupe (192 top speed) to reach 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, with a 4.5 second time for the convertible (191 top speed). Moreover, the GT V8 S has a range of more than 500 miles. Impressive! And for such a heavy vehicle – over 5,000 lbs – the new Bentley has amazing weight transfer. Oftentimes I forgot I was on public roads as we cruised to La Jolla and Dana Point in luxury, style and grace.
Positioned behind the adjustable steering wheel, information readouts and luxury touches are omnipresent for the most enlightened and comfortable drive experience. The 8” touchscreen multimedia system is highly intuitive, 17 various hides are available for your taste, contrast stitching is present throughout and if you opt for the Mulliner Driving Specification as I did, Bentley enhances your immaculate conception with the aforementioned 21” rims (20” open-spoke wheels are standard), drilled alloy foot pedals, a “jewel” filler cap and diamond-quilted, perforated leather trim. Outside, the lower gloss front splitter adds quite a touch to the sporty demeanour of the Continental.
After dropping the top I took advantage of the neck warmer and wind deflector. This time I also engaged the seat’s spa feature, which gave me a soft massage. After lunch at Frank Sinatra’s former home, I swapped out with a Monaco Yellow Coupe. I was still in heaven, and when the speed adjusted, automatic rear spoiler elevated I knew that the GT V8 S would plant me Deep In A Dream like Sinatra.