Black is the new black in the high-performance car arena, particularly in the upper echelons. The latest entry, the Bentley Continental GT V8 S Concours Series Black provided sensational grand touring for us over the past weekend.
Bentley has a strong history in motor racing in the 1920s and ‘30s. Its comeback with a victory at the Le Mans 24-hour in 2003 gave the British engineers a taste for winning and Bentley’s are proving pretty handy in current GT3 racing, including competing in the most recent Bathurst 12-hour.
So, engine and dynamic performance of the standard Bentley Continental V8 S was considered to be adequate (to use that lovely old expression) and the Concours Series Black is about adding style to an already potent mechanical package.
As is sometimes the way ‘black’ edition isn’t always coloured black. Thankfully our test car was in that sinister shade, tagged Beluga Black, so it took maximum advantage of the dark tint treatment given to the front and rear lights, the black finish to the huge 21-inch Mulliner wheels with Pirelli P-Zero rubber, and the genuine carbon-fibre used in the interior.
Concours Series badging is used on the front guards, the door-sill tread plates and the headrests.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
Bentley Continental GT V8 S has an ultra-modern 4.0-litre twin-turbo 388 kilowatt (520 horsepower) V8. Top torque of 680 Newton metres starts at a mere 1700 rpm meaning there’s grunt sitting waiting under your right foot virtually all the time. It uses an eight-speed automatic transmission. The staggering torque means the Bentley is engineered for all-wheel drive to enable its high-performance credential are available no matter how slippery the surface.
The all-wheel-drive system combines with huge brakes and the latest in electronic stability controls to ensure the Bentley does all it can to stay out of trouble, and protects occupants to the best of its ability should everything still go wrong.
The great news is that the Bentley V8 S sounds exactly the way V8s should. Though it would have been possible to make it ultra-smooth and all-but silent, the engine designers knew exactly what V8 buyers want.
The twin-turbo unit has a throaty burble at idle and puts out a most satisfying roar when the pedal on the right approaches the upmarket carpet underneath it. This is the sort of car that’s guaranteed to bring a smile to all those with a love of high-performance V8s.
Just as importantly, the eight-speed automatic transmission has been tuned to minimise shift times, almost to the extent that if feels more like a race-oriented dual-clutch unit than a conventional torque converter auto. The snap changes add to the excitement of the V8’s actions.
Zero to 100 km/h time is just 4.5 seconds – not bad for a machine weighing 2.5 tonnes when you include the driver’s mass.
Bentley Continental GT V8 S has a top speed, where conditions permit, of 309 km/h. We did risk our licences by taking it up to 120 km/h (well, maybe a little more…) a few times and loved the experience. It’s not all about speed, though, this Bentley can dispatch huge distances with a minimum of fuss.
The front seats are a cross between racing units and tailored lounges, though the emphasis leans in the direction of the later. They were finished in soft leather in deep black with diamond pleating and red stitching in our car. Support is good, though it’s aimed more at comfort for the aforementioned grand touring driving than for full-on race track thrashes. Meaning passengers may slide about more than they like if the driver does get enthusiastic.
This is a large car, but doesn’t have much in the way of a back seat, four adults can be carried, though two plus a couple of kids makes more sense. The boot is huge and reasonably easy to load.
The Bentley Continental GT V8 S Concours Black is an impressive piece of automotive engineering. At $491,423 (plus inroads) as tested it’s way out of my price range. But those who can afford one will get a great deal of driving pleasure from their special edition Bentley.