Driven: Bentley Continental GT Speed Review
One car that doesn’t need any introduction is the Bentley Continental GT Speed. This is the fastest production Bentley made to date; and can power through the 200mph threshold into supercar territory.
What’s it about?
The Bentley Continental GT Speed is the fastest running production Bentley ever. The Speed edition starts at £152,600 and the model tested checks out at £186,400, including a few finer revisions from the options list; carbon ceramic brakes, the ‘Naim for Bentley’ audio system, carbon fibre dash trim, to name just a few of the luxury options.
It has the famous 6.0-litre turbocharged W12 upfront, putting out 616bhp and an insane 800Nm torque. All that power runs through an eight speed automatic ZF gearbox and down to all four wheels with a 60/40 power split towards the rear wheels. Due to the high level of British performance engineering in this car the GT Speed will do 0-60mph in 4 seconds flat, 0-100mph in 9 seconds and will top out well in to supercar zone at 205mph. This latest version of the Continental has enough power to practically bend the road it runs on.
But the continental GT isn’t all about hard acceleration and top end speed. It is also about elegance, luxury and maturity. Taking a step back from the car you can see that it is extremely well designed and has an enormous road presence. Once in the driver’s seat the interior is on a whole ‘nother level of perfection, every aspect of the car is covered with the finest materials you can buy, including carefully stitched super soft leather, carbon fibre, and well-crafted aluminium metals. Honestly, before even moving an inch in this car you can appreciate it as a superb piece of design and engineering.
How does it drive?
The number one characteristic of this car that sticks out in my mind is its absolute relentless torque. The 12 pistons under the bonnet, aided by two high boost turbos, somehow create 800Nm of torque, creating a thrilling driving experience. When you hit the accelerator you feel a small wooshing effect in the power curve then nothing but ruthless persistent torque all the way up to the rev limiter, where you grab another gear and the madness continues. Its straight line performance is ridiculous, but in a good way of course!
The driving experience overall is fantastic, you sit low in the diamond quilted leather seats towards the centre of the car. Although the car is very long, it has good all-round visibility and doesn’t feel as wide on the road as it looks. I managed around 450 miles with my test drive of the car and it was brilliant in every scenario, car parks, traffic, motorways, country roads, somehow the car adapts and doesn’t feel out of place or unmanageable in any environment.
Pushing the car enthusiastically on the roads is great fun in the GT. The straight line performance, as mentioned, is colossal and the handling capabilities are also definitely something to shout about. The GT was tested on Dunlop Winter Sport 3D tyres, and for the week I had it, it was 90% wet on the roads, but the Bentley has an immense amount of grip. It shouldn’t be possible to have a 616bhp car in the wet and not get any slip when putting the power down, unbelievable! Don’t think all this grip comes from the Electronic Stability Control (ESP) restraining the power on the W12, as that is not the case at all.
The tyre choice, the mechanical setup, and the stability control all play a part in generating that grip, which makes all that power a lot more usable. Because of this the car feels incredible in the corners and gives the driver a lot of confidence behind the wheel. The GT feels flat and very agile when cornering, both in fast, and slow corners. The response back to the driver through both the accelerator and steering wheel is finely tuned and encourages you to push the car harder as you are aware that there is still plenty of grip left.
Finally those brakes; they are the largest carbon ceramic brakes fitted on any production car at a whopping 42cms in diameter at the front and 36cms at the rear. These brakes are bigger than most cars wheels and have some extreme stopping power. For a 205mph car that weighs 2,320kg, I can’t recommend this option enough. They are even more impressive than the power of the car, they’re brilliant, and they are quite literally painfully effective.
The combination of the brutal power, elegant handling, and record breaking brakes means that the Bentley achieves the ultimate GT car feel and it doesn’t have to compromise performance over luxury or vice-versa.
What’s it like inside?
Inside the Bentley Continental GT Speed is a whole different league. It has one of the best looking cabins of all time. The first thing that catches your eye when looking into the Bentley is the diamond quilted leather that you can see cut into the seats and the door trims, it gives a real quality and exclusive look to the interior of this premium Grand Touring car.
Sitting inside the car you notice that even the roof lining is covered in luxury perforated leather, the dash is mostly covered in supple leather except for the carbon fibre facias, if you have selected that option on the build list, which for me transformed the look of the interior and gave the car a distinct sporting edge.
Flash materials aside, the car also has some great comfort, entertainment, and technology inside. The heated seats for example have 6 different heat settings; almost one for everyday of the week. The technology on the car is impressive, with an 8” dash mounted premium media centre, you have the option to play CD, DVD, DTV, DAB, MP3 and Bluetooth. It even has its own built in hard drive. For those that prefer to be driven, there is a Bentley designed phone handset fitted in the front armrest that can use its own SIM card or link to another phone via Bluetooth.
Entertainment covered you can also electronically raise and lower the spoiler, adjust the ride height of the car using the air suspension, and electronically adjust the dampers from comfort to sport mode, depending on your mood.
Further technology on the car includes keyless entry and start, making the car a pleasure to get into, and out of, without messing around with keys…they are so last year! It’s not cutting edge technology, but it’s the icing on the cake.
The whole experience of owning a Bentley, especially the Continental GT Speed, is mind blowing, but even the basics are impressive, starting the W12 up alone is a toe-curling experience. From the driver’s seat, it takes just one press of the start button to transform your day from average to exceptional. Starting the car it makes a very imposing growl as you make one of, if not the best GT car you can buy, come alive.
The experience you have driving on the road is phenomenal; the power delivery and handling capabilities are amazing. The GT delivers an astonishingly fast and effortless driver experience, but it can also be calming and relaxed when you don’t fancy unloading all that power, there are not many cars that can do both of these things and to such a high standard.
Bentley’s are prestigious and exclusive cars and you are well aware of this fact the second you get behind the wheel. The exclusive experience of driving around in this Bentley is second to none, you instantly feel privileged to be behind the wheel of such an expensive and well engineered car. Because of these facts people are interested to see the Bentley Continental GT Speed, kids wave, people stare, take pictures, and are keen to comment on the car, even if it goes no further than ‘nice Bentley’.
The GT speed is sold as a high speed, luxury car for long distance driving, Bentley have absolutely nailed these aspects of the car, the power available is incredible, the ride is silky smooth and the luxuries found inside are of the highest quality.
What a package… The Bentley Continental GT Speed has immense road presence and demands respect without even moving a piston. That said, once all 12 of those big pistons get fired up, the brutal power of this beautiful GT car is more than enough to please even the most experienced of drivers. The Bentley is also top of the tree when it comes to refinement and utmost luxury. It seems the Bentley has it all, including a high asking price, but buying a Bentley is a lifestyle choice you either pay for the premium quality or settle for second best.
Bentley Continental GT Speed
- Price: £186,400
- Engine: 6.0-Litre Turbocharged W12
- Power: 616bhp
- Torque: 800Nm
- Transmission: 8 Speeds Automatic ZF
- 0-62mph: 4.0 Seconds
- Top speed: 205mph
- Weight: 2,320kg
- Economy combined: 19mpg
- CO2: 338g/km
Author: Paul Hadley