The covers have come off Bentley’s new V-8 powered Continental GT ahead of the luxurious two-door’s world debut scheduled for next month’s 2012 Detroit Auto Show.

As we’ve known for some time the big Bentley coupe and its GTC convertible sibling are to receive a new V-8 option, and we can finally confirm today that the engine in question is a newly developed twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 rated at 500 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque.

In true Bentley fashion this mighty powerplant, a version of which is also found in the 2013 Audi S8, has been tuned to deliver its peak torque over a very wide plateau in order to give the feeling of effortless thrust from anywhere in the rev range. That’s right, the peak torque rating of 487 pound-feet can be had from as little as 1,700 rpm and remains all the way up to 5,000 revs.

Drive is sent to all four-wheels via a new close-ratio eight-speed automatic transmission and Torsen differential with 40:60 rear-biased split. The transmission, sourced from ZF, has been designed to not only boost acceleration but also help reduce fuel consumption. Of course, performance will still be there with the Continental GT V8 expected to sprint from 0-60 mph in less than five seconds and top out at more than 180 mph.

According to Bentley, the new V-8 Continental models should remain true to the automaker’s promise of reducing CO2 emissions by up to 40 percent compared to its previous models. Final numbers will be released closer to launch though Bentley boasts that they will be capable of traveling more than 500 miles on a single tank of gas.

2013 Bentley Continental GT V8

2013 Bentley Continental GT V8

Key to their frugality is a cylinder deactivation feature which allows the new V-8 engine to run on just four cylinders during low load situations. Importantly, the change between four and eight cylinders will remain imperceptible to occupants of the vehicles.

Other fuel saving features of the engine include direct injection technology, low friction bearings, thermal management, brake energy regeneration, and special packaging of the turbochargers to ensure high efficiency.

Onlookers will be able to tell the V-8 models from current W-12 ones by the eight-cylinder’s distinct growl, in addition to some unique styling elements. The Continental GT V8 and GTC V8 models will sport blacked-out grilles with chrome frames and center bars, red enamel Bentley 'B' badges, revised intakes in the front bumpers and body-colored strakes.

At the rear will be custom 'figure eight' exhaust tailpipes, dark lower valances and more red enamel 'B' badges on the trunk lids. Big 20-inch wheels will come as standard though customers will be able to opt for a special 21-inch six-spoke design finished in unique to this model Diamond Black or Diamond Silver finishes.

2013 Bentley Continental GT V8

2013 Bentley Continental GT V8

Of course, as with any Bentley, there will be luxury in spades. In this case, the cabins will come lined with Eliade cloth for the roof, darkened eucalyptus wood veneers on much of the dash, and leather trim on most other surfaces.

Note, Bentley is positioning its new V-8 powered Continental GT and GTC below the W-12 models, so expect pricing to start below the current $205,600 entry-point.

Stay tuned for our coverage of the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, press days for which commence on January 9. In the meantime access our ongoing coverage via our dedicated show page.