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Bentley Continental V8 (2012) first official pictures

Published: 12 December 2011

This is the new 'downsized' Bentley Continental - the new 2012 V8. Downsizing is relative, of course, but it's a significant move from Bentley as it expands the Conti range down from the lofty heights of today's 6.0 W12.

The new Continental V8 coupe and GTC V8 convertible premiere the VW group's new 4.0-litre V8, codeveloped with Audi.

Bentley Continental V8: the new engine

This 4.0-litre V8 is twin-turbocharged and has an array of new tech such as direct fuel injection and cylinder deactivation to lower mpg and CO2 while boosting the important stuff like refinement, power and torque. The engine will act as a V4 at part-load, with special engine mounts and acoustic gizmos to keep the aural experience acceptable.

The new, cheaper Conti sticks with four-wheel drive to keep traction in check and there's a new eight-speed automatic transmission too.

The new Continental V8 twins will be unveiled formally at the 2012 Detroit auto show in January 2012.

So tell us more about this eco Bentley…

The new V8 is hardly a down-specced green special. The new lump, which you'll also find in Audi's new S8, pumps out 500bhp in this guise, with a chunky 487lb ft peaking at one of the most plateau-like torque curves you'll find anywhere - it's flat from 1700-5000rpm.

Key figures are 180mph at the top end, 'sub 5.0sec 0-60mph' and a fuel range of more than 500 miles.

However, Bentley is keeping schtum on the exact fuel economy and CO2 figures until spring 2012. Tellingly, this is the engine which fulfils Bentley's promise to lower CO2 emissions by 40% within five years; all speculation about hybrids and such like was premature.

Bentley has previously dallied with flex-fuel on the W12, and will continue to offer this. But new chief exec Wolfgang Durheimer told CAR that all future development work would focus on hybrids and core group technologies, rather than E85 biofuels.

How can I spot the new Bentley Continental V8?

To tell the V8 apart from a full-fat W12, look for the black gloss grille with a chrome frame and central bar, a red enamel Bentley 'B' badge. At the back you'll find new chromed figure-of-eight exhaust tailpipes, a dark lower valance and a similar red Bentley boot badge.

Twenty inch wheels are standard, but in line with the new Conti W12 you can spec up to 21in rims should your tastes verge towards the bling.

Bentley has sold more than 50,000 Continentals worldwide since launch in 2003, making it comfortably the best-selling model in its history. The new, more affordable V8 is only likely to swell that figure further.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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