Bentley Continental GT V8 vs Porsche Panamera

Our road test team pits the new Bentley Continental GT V8 against the Porsche Panamera

Bentley Continental GT V8 vs Porsche Panamera

Germany versus England is a fixture that always provides thrills and spills – and the arrival of the latest Bentley is sure to cause a few fireworks.

The famous British marque gave its Continental GT a thorough overhaul last year, but the introduction of the new 500bhp V8 model is what enthusiasts have been waiting for. It promises to deliver the kind of imperious performance we’ve come to expect from a Bentley, along with a 40 per cent improvement in economy over the existing W12 – and all with an added injection of character.

Finding a rival with enough space, performance and charisma isn’t easy, but the Porsche Panamera Turbo S fits the bill. Its 4.8-litre V8 engine produces 542bhp and, like the Bentley, the car boasts the security of four-wheel drive. Further boosting the Porsche’s credentials as a grand tourer is its more practical five-door body.

So the Panamera has the pace and space to rival the Continental V8; the question is, does it have the heart and soul of its British counterpart?

Verdict

These cars take completely different approaches to the business of transporting four adults in luxury, and neither will disappoint. So which would we choose? The Porsche and Bentley won’t appeal to quite the same audience.

The Panamera Turbo S is a precision instrument, with deft handling for such a big car and scenery-shrinking performance. It’s sure to be faster along a twisty road than its rival here, although it only really comes alive once the engine reaches the upper end of the rev range. And, when you do that, you have to keep a close eye on the speedo because the chances are that you’ll be travelling much faster than you should be.

In contrast, the characterful Bentley can put a smile on your face at any speed. And it’s still capable of unleashing ferocious acceleration. It’s a blunderbuss to the Porsche’s rifle, but it still hits the bullseye in this market thanks to its opulent interior, charismatic engine, cosseting suspension and library-like refinement.

Yes, it’s not as big in the back and, yes, climbing into the rear of the Bentley in the first place requires a bit more effort, but this is soon forgotten about. We think the latest addition to the Continental GT’s armoury is the best yet, so the new V8 gets our vote.

Winner
Bentley Continental GT V8
★★★★★

The Continental GT is better than ever. Its new V8 engine adds a welcome dose of character and enjoyment to an already impressive package. With sure-footed four-wheel drive, a luxurious interior and one of the most exclusive badges on the planet, the newcomer shows exactly what Bentley is capable of. Real-world fuel economy of 25mpg from the new twin-turbocharged V8 is an achievable target, too.

2nd
Porsche Panamera
★★★★

The flagship Panamera is a technological marvel, mating a twin-clutch automated gearbox, all-wheel drive and adjustable suspension to a highly capable chassis. It only gets going once its twin-turbo V8 is singing, though, and that takes away some of the fun at lower speeds. Still, a huge cabin and potentially decent fuel returns add to its everyday usability.

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