British luxury icon Bentley has unveiled its new V8-powered Continental GT and Continental GTC ranges at the Detroit Auto Show, showcasing a brand-new engine that promises prodigious thrust without gargantuan fuel bills.
The existing Volkswagen-sourced 6.0 litre W12 will continue to power the range-topping GT and GTC models, while the V8 will provide a new entry point to the Continental range - and a more fuel-efficient alternative to the W12.
The new V8 is a 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged and direct-injected unit, with the turbochargers sitting in the valley of the engine to improve packaging and thermal efficiency.
Power is listed at 373kW, while torque peaks at 660Nm. Peak torque is available from just 1700rpm, giving the new V8 tremendous pulling power. Maximum speed? 303km/h.
It also features variable displacement technology, which, like the 6.75 litre V8 in the Bentley Mulsanne, cuts fuel to four of the engine's eight cylinders during light-throttle cruising for dramatic reductions in fuel consumption.
Bentley claims the Continental's new V8 sips an average of just 10.5 litres of high-octane petrol per 100km, giving it an effective range of about 857km on a full tank of fuel.
Not bad for a luxury coupe weighing 2.3 tonnes, and certainly preferable to the W12's average consumption of 17.1 l/100km.
Performance hasn't been traded off in the search for more efficiency, though. The Continental GT can sprint from zero to 100km/h in just 4.8 seconds, while the convertible GTC takes five seconds flat.
That makes the 2012 Continental GT V8 and GTC V8 just 0.2 seconds slower than their W12-powered stablemates.
Cosmetic differences between the V8 and W12 are more subtle.
Externally, the winged 'B' emblem has a red background instead of black, the radiator grille and lower bumper openings feature black - rather than silver - mesh, and the tailpipes feature a 'figure eight' design.
The Continental V8 gets 20-inch wheels as standard, with a pair of unique 21-inch wheel designs available as an option.
Inside there's new wood veneer trims and a shorter centre console. A cloth headliner replaces the leather used by the W12-powered models.
Australian pricing has yet to be announced, however the new Continental GT and GTC will retail in Europe for €136,000 and €149,600 respectively.
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