Bentley is pitching the V8S as a car for V8 owners “who want more”. It’s priced at £139,000 – £9k more than the V8, roughly the same as the regular 567bhp W12 and below the range-topping 616bhp W12 Speed. Think of it as a more sporting, dynamic Conti GT.
Externally, the V8S has a more aggressive front splitter, side sills and rear diffuser. Our test car was fitted with the optional 21-inch alloys wrapped around the largest ceramic brake discs ever fitted to a production car (420mm front, 356mm rear – yours for £10,405...).
But the V8S is much more than a vanity pack. Engine output has been increased by 21bhp, taking the twin-turbo V8’s output to 521bhp and cutting the 0–60mph time by 0.4sec to 4.3secs, the same as the regular W12. With a 192mph vmax. Torque is up, too, from 487lb ft to 502lb ft, the whole lot on tap from 1,700rpm to 6,000rpm. This increased power reaches all four wheels through an 8spd ZF auto, recalibrated to hold onto the gears for longer.
Economy and emissions remain the same (26.7mpg, 246g/km CO2), thanks in part to the cylinder deactivation system, in which four cylinders are turned off when light-throttle ‘cruising’, the full eight coming on song when your inner Stig takes control.
Bentley has dropped the sports suspension by 10mm, increased the spring rates, revised the damping, stiffened the bushes and rear anti-roll bar and recalibrated the steering for “improved precision and feedback”.
Inside the V8S, it’s business as usual as you drop into one of the finest interiors in the car world. Take it easy in the S, and it’s lost none of the GT’s ability to devour huge distances with that dismissive poise that has earnt the Conti its reputation as such a fine GT car. But if you drop the ’box into S and gun the throttle, the V8S rides its torque, building speed in a way that no car weighing more than 2,200kg should, the optional sports exhaust serving up a very British baritone soundtrack.
Once you’ve adjusted to the fact that your GT has transformed into something altogether more menacing, you can dig into the staggering grip that the AWD GT can deliver. The revised steering is more precise, while the brakes remain face-bendingly effective.
True, the standard Conti W12 offers more power for about the same cash, but the V8S is cleverer than that. It’s a car concerned with the detail rather than merely the headline figures, and all the better for it.
3993cc, V8 twin-turbo, AWD, 521bhp, 502lb ft 26.7mpg, 246g/km CO2 0–60mph in 4.3secs, 192mph 2295kg £139,000