2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S

2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S

Episode 3338
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

The Brits may drive on the wrong side of the road and call soccer, football, but they sure know what they’re doing when it comes to building sporting upper-crust rides. That know-how is best experienced in the Bentley Continental GT, the brand’s sexy superstar. But that nasty streak of performance that has long been lurking beneath its sensuous sheet metal is now even wider.

When Bentley broadened the Continental GT lineup with a V8 model last year, the reasons were simple. Downsizing from a W12 to an eight means better fuel economy and less tax in certain important markets like China. An added no-cost benefit was less weight over the front end that gives the GT V8 a more nimble nature. The 2014 Bentley Continental GT V8 S looks to build on that by adding a little more performance back into the mix. 

For starter, the 4.0-liter V8 gets a boost, or more boost out of its twin turbochargers. Output increases 21-horsepower to 521, torque spins up 15 lb-ft. to 502. The attached ZF close ratio 8-speed automatic transmission with sport mode and steering column-mounted shifters needed no upgrades as it already handles much more power from the W12. 

From there, the ride controlling hardware also gets a “tending to” for a lower ride height and even greater agility. Brake size stays the same, but calipers are now dressed up with red paint. 

Now, a few more horsepower and some suspension tweaks don’t necessarily make for drastic changes in performance. But, there’s only one way to be sure…

With the GT’s rear biased all-wheel-drive, there’s plenty of hook up and go at launch. Power is smooth and plentiful, but there wasn’t quite enough extra thrust to better the standard GT V8 0-60 time of 4.2-seconds. Still that’s only two tenths slower than the last Continental W12 we tested. 

The power never seems to let up, as you smooth shift your way down the track, clearing the ¼ mile in 12.4-seconds and 112 miles-per-hour. Braking power is just as impressive bringing a hasty halt to things in only 118 feet from 60. While piloting some luxury liners through a slalom course does resemble steering a cruise ship from a recliner, this 5,000 pound GT has always been a capable carver.

And while you still feel all of the heft, the V8 S’ spring rates have been increased to keep the transfer in check a bit more, bushings stiffened to quicken turn ins, and damping revised to take out more of the float. Steering feel is still pretty dead, but the chassis seems to shed weight as you go, responding better the more you push. 

When you’re driving an updated version of anything, you want people to know, of course. And specific upgrades to the V8 S include a black gloss treatment to the grilles and a front splitter low in the fascia. Side sills get discreetly extended between the standard 20-inch or upgraded 21-inch alloy wheels, and there’s a tasteful V8 S fender badge. Astern, the diffuser also gets a glossy finish, nicely integrating the figure 8-shaped exhaust tips. 

Leather wrapped and comfortably numb is how you feel inside the cabin; and as always, the sky is truly the limit when it comes to materials and color choices. Keep them tasteful, please! The traditional touches like knurled metal, glossy finishes, and organ stops are all still terrific; and most interior controls have a German feel and precision. 

And if open air motoring is more to your liking, just as in other Bentley Continental GT offerings; you can get a convertible as well. The appearance with the top up is not quite as classy or dynamic, but those shortcomings are short-lived as you lower the top into the boot, hit the road, and enjoy some warm spring weather, or even maybe some traditional British gloom. 

Ride quality seemed just as good in the Convertible as the Coupe, despite our Glacier White example riding on limited edition 21-inch Black 7-spoke alloys. 

Government Fuel Economy Ratings come in the same as the standard GT V8, at 15-City, 24-Highway, and 18-Combined. We averaged 17.8 miles-per-gallon of Premium in mixed driving. 

You have to know that this much luxury and fun come at a price, $199,225 for the Coupe and $219,925 for the Convertible. With options, this pair was pushing a cool half-mil, but who’s counting?

The Bentley Continental GT has always been one of our favorite big buck sporting coupes, and this 2014 GT V8 S only reaffirms why we love them so much. But there may be troubled waters on the horizon, with Rolls-Royce offering more technology features and wow factor with their Wraith Coupe, and a “smashing” S-Class Coupe coming from Mercedes-Benz, this Continental GT’s time as lead vehicle might be running out. 

Specifications

  • Engine: 4.0-liter V8
  • Horsepower: 521
  • Torque: 502 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 4.2 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 12.4 seconds @ 112 mph
  • EPA: 15 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway
2023 Mazda3

2023 Mazda3

Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better

Episode 4304
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.

The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.

Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.

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A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.

That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.

The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.

At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.

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While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.

Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.

Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!

Specifications

As Tested

  • Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
  • Horsepower: 227 | 250
  • 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
  • Transmission: 6-speed auto
  • Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
  • EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined