Sometimes less equals more.
Bentley’s Continental two-doors (coupe and convertible) have been closely identified with their 6.0-liter W-12 engine, but 2013 brings a reduction in cylinder count with a newly available V-8 that sacrifices little in performance and increases driving range to 500 miles via improved fuel economy and a new eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s only about 0.2 second slower to 60 mph and has a top speed of 186 mph. The V-8 coupe and convertible, at $176,725 and $195,125 respectively, cost twenty grand less than their V-12 counterparts. Like the long-serving W-12, the Audi-sourced V-8 engine uses twin turbochargers to create stratospheric levels of power and torque. This translates to effortless acceleration at any speed. The interiors of the V-8 models are just as sybaritic as those of the twelve-cylinder cars, and the exteriors differ only subtly: look for red “B” badges in the wheels, different exhaust tips, and a blackened grille and front fascia. This year also sees the reintroduction of the GT Speed coupe, Bentley’s fastest-ever production car, with a top speed of 205 mph, thanks to a 616-hp version of the W-12. The Speed also adapts the eight-speed ZF transmission from the V-8 models (the standard Conti W-12 makes do with the old six-speed), and it carries about a $22,000 price premium, at $217,725. Speed never comes cheap.
Aston Martin Vanquish
Audi R8 5.2
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
new for 2013
A twin-turbo V-8 engine and an eight-speed automatic are newly available on the GT coupe and the GTC convertible, and a new GT Speed edition has the distinction of being the fastest production Bentley ever. There are still a few examples floating around of the overpriced, limited-edition Supersports convertible/Ice Speed Record (ISR) model based on the last-gen ragtop.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags; traction and stability control; ABS; and a tire-pressure monitor are standard. Precollision warning (part of the active cruise-control system) is optional.
High style, high performance
Really easy to drive
Heavy and inefficient, even with reduced cylinder count
Base Price Range: $176,725–$297,625
TRIM LEVELS: GT V8, GT W12, GT Speed, GTC V8, GTC W12; Supersports convertible/ISR
BODY STYLES: Coupe, convertible, 2- or 2+2-passenger
ENGINES: 4.0L twin-turbo V-8, 500 hp, 487 lb-ft
6.0L twin-turbo W-12, 567/616/631 hp, 516/590 lb-ft (E85 capable)
TRANSMISSIONS: 6- or 8-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: N/A
CARGO SPACE: (GT/GTC) 12.6/9.1 cu ft