• GTC V8 joins GT V8 in offering Bentley's 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8
  • Despite its smaller size, the new engine still produces 500hp
  • The new model is expected to go on sale later this year

This year's Geneva Auto Show served as the launching pad for the newest version of Bentley's popular Continental model range. The new 2013 Continental GTC V8 convertible will soon join the Continental GT V8 coupe in offering Bentley's new 8-cylinder engine, which will be available alongside the droptop's twin-turbocharged W12.

On the surface, there's little to distinguish the Continental GTC V8 from its more powerful stablemate. Among the subtle clues are red enamel "Flying B" badges on the grille and trunk in place of the W12 model's black emblems, and smaller quad exhaust pipes shaped like horizontal figure eights instead of the W12's large, distinctive dual exhausts. On the inside, the two vehicles are nearly identical - until you hit the accelerator.

But it's not because the V8-powered Continental GTC is a slouch off the line. On the contrary, the droptop accelerates sharply thanks to its new 500-horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, which is down just 67 horses to the model's flagship 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 powerplant. Instead, the models can be instantly distinguished due to their sound: while the GTC V8 features an aggressive, high-pitched engine note, the W12 offers lower, muted growl.

According to Bentley, the sound is intentional, as the automaker wanted to ensure the V8-powered Continental GTC retained its sporty image despite its lower performance and price. But while the W12 may have more muscle, we think the new Bentley will have no problem keeping its sporty vibe thanks to a top speed of nearly 190 miles per hour, 0-to-60 acceleration in just 4.7 seconds, and column-mounted shift paddles that allow drivers to constantly keep the GTC V8's standard 8-speed automatic transmission poised for performance.

But Bentley says that in spite of its high-performance nature, the Continental GTC V8 is also surprisingly fuel-efficient. According to the automaker, the droptop is capable of travelling more than 500 miles on a single tank of gas and can achieve around 22 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. Bentley also says the new engine produces relatively low carbon dioxide emissions, which is becoming an increasingly bigger component of vehicle taxation throughout Europe.

Of course, we don't expect many of Bentley's high-end clientele to show much concern over their fuel bills or carbon dioxide emissions. That's because despite the "entry level" nature of the Continental GTC V8, it's still expected to start upwards of $190,000, making it one of the most expensive convertibles available. But while the price tag may seem stratospheric for most of us, we expect the new model won't have a hard time finding buyers when it arrives in US showrooms later this year - even if it "only" has a V8.

What it means to you: Bentley's beautiful Continental convertible is slightly more attainable than ever before.

See more Geneva Auto Show articles.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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