The fact that the Bentley Continental GT V8S I was loaned came with bright yellow paintwork is unmistakable evidence of how this 95-year-old British icon has created an up-to-the-minute image under Volkswagen ownership.

The Conti, now in its second generation and recently enhanced with the V8S version, has made Bentley desirable to a younger, wider market.

The V8S sits between the “base” V8 and top-shelf W12. While enhancements over the V8 in power, performance and trim seem minor, the real gains in the V8S are in lower, tauter suspension and quicker steering that change the driving emphasis from luxury to sporty.

Few cars match the Bentley’s powerful, elegant road presence. Inside is true, hand-crafted luxury – personalised to your desires. There are four seats, but limited rear legroom means it’s really a two-seater.

With twin turbochargers feeding the alloy V8 engine, performance is massive, instant and effortless; the challenge is not how fast the Bentley will go, but how to restrain it to legal limits.

$405,600 plus on-roads | 2-Door coupè
4.0 litre V8 turbo petrol | 389kW/680Nm

FOR: Quality, performance, presence.

AGAINST: Some features should be free, not optional.

VERDICT: Best of British craftsmanship and German engineering.