Detroit 2012: Bentley Downsizes with 500-hp Continental GT & GTC V8

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Despite wealthy buyers' lust for horsepower, the upper echelons of automakers are not exempt from the more stringent fuel economy and emissions standards coming in the next decade. Economy is the name of the game with Bentley's newest addition to the Continental line: the GT and GTC V8.

Using a tweaked version of the twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 first seen under the hood of the 2012 Audi S8, S7, and S6, the coupe and convertible from Crewe have been tuned to 500 hp. Also new to Bentley is an eight-speed automatic.

The smaller engine helps to reduce fuel consumption by around 40 percent when compared to the 6.0-liter W-12. U.S. economy figures have yet to be finalized, but on the European cycle, the V8-powered car comes in around 27 mpg. Impressive, given its 4.8-second time from 0 to 60 mph and 188-mph top speed.

Visual tweaks to differentiate the V8 are minor: figure-eight-shaped exhaust tips, a black grille, red enamel backings for the badges, and revised front and rear valences separate the eights from the twelves.

Pricing has yet to be announced; expect it to be under the $193,250 base price of the W-12-powered version once ordering begins around the end of the third quarter of this year. Although, if you have to ask, you probably still can't afford it.

For more on the 2012 Bentley Continental GT and GTC V8, check out our First Drive here. For more on the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our Detroit Show homepage.

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