With a top speed of 335 km/h, the Bentley Continental GT Speed lives up to its name. Yet it is not its brute force, but its dynamic finesse that impresses.
Even faster than a Continental GT
The name couldn’t be clearer: the Speed is above all an even faster version of the already extremely fast Bentley Continental GT. Thanks to the further boosted twin-turbo W12, the 6-liter block paired with an 8-speed robotic transmission is good for 659 hp and a maximum torque of 900 Nm. The car is also progressing: the 2.4-ton Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible has the time to go from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 335 km/h.
This extra speed is entirely due to the W12. With the Speed, the British prestige manufacturer did not want to build a lighter Bentley Continental GT Speed, as no concessions are made to luxury or comfort. Aesthetically, the changes are also limited: apart from some subtle Speed badges, only the specific 22-inch wheels and the discreetly adjusted grille reveal that you are on the road with a W12 Speed. Unless you opt for the optional Aero Styling package, which adds carbon fiber design details.
Now the Speed is more than just a more powerful and even faster Bentley Continental GT. In pursuit of extra handling and precision, the guys at Crewe also took care of the chassis, resulting in an active co-steer rear axle and an active limited-slip differential between the rear wheels. They do wonders for handling, as this tanker rides like a speedboat. The steering feel remains distant and the high weight cannot be ignored, yet the Bentley Continental GT Speed exhibits extra eagerness entering the corner, more control caressing the chord, and more playfulness exiting acceleration.
This increased dynamism is especially noticeable on the Coupe, which is a bit lighter and much stiffer. In convertible form, the Bentley Continental GT Speed simply reaches its limits more quickly, so the added value over other models remains rather symbolic in practice. Bentley developed huge brakes for the Speed, carbon-ceramic brakes with 440 mm discs and 10-piston calipers. They brake much better and weigh 33 kg less than the standard steel models, which also reduces unsprung weight. But they are superfluous on the convertible, just as the aforementioned Aero Styling package is mostly superfluous on the coupe.
Pleasant sound even in Cabriolet
The W12 engine is an excellent – not violent – companion when you’re driving through the backcountry. In Sport mode, it’s especially noticeable how the cooperation between the engine and the transmission has been adapted to work faster: it shamelessly chooses the higher revs by delaying the upshift during acceleration and downshifting a bit earlier during braking. The turbochargers don’t react very quickly, which seems to accentuate the inertia of the huge body. What is also noticeable on the road, especially in the convertible, is the somewhat clinical soundtrack of the W12. The sound is full and pleasant to listen to, but it lacks a little soul.
Tailored for a road trip like we like
We can’t think of a more enjoyable way to drive through the backcountry, as the Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible is incredibly comfortable, incredibly fast and surprisingly dynamic. Just keep in mind that most roads are actually too narrow and most speed limits clash with the enormous potential of the twin-turbo W12. The freewheeling rear axle and eLSD add liveliness and extra room to maneuver, but the convertible lacks the control to really make these extra toys pay off. If you really want the extra power of the Bentley Continental GT Speed, opt for the Coupe.
Bentley Continental GT Speed – from 307, 225 Euros for the convertible – bentleymotors.com