If you have an interest in cars at the pricier end of the spectrum, the chances are that you are familiar with the offerings from Bentley and more importantly their Continental GT. This particular GT variant adds Speed to the moniker which is a combination that promises to make the journey even more memorable and we can confirm that the latest Continental GT Speed delivers on that promise.
Cosmetically the GT Speed gets slightly more aggressive looks with the grille, lower bumper air intakes, and side sills wearing a Dark Tint finish. Inside the team made a few tweaks but most notably offered a plethora of Alcantara trim on the seats and steering wheel. The exquisite controls all fall right where you’d like them, and the driving position strikes an excellent balance between long-trip comfort and corner-carving stability. Sure the optional three-panel rotating display that switches, between infotainment screen, analogue dials and seamless veneer may have been around for a few years now, but it’s still one of the coolest options you can buy on a new car today.
Like the rest of the Continental GTs, they are perfectly made for two. Yes, there are seats at the back but if the occupants are taller than 5 feet it is not exactly a comfortable spot to be. If you need or want a Bentley with room for four, the Flying Spur is the one for you.
Under the long sleek styled hood sits the work of art known as the twin-turbo 6.0-litre W12 which cranks out 650 hp (485 kW) with torque peaking at 900 Nm. This twisting figure is identical to that of the regular W12, though it now occurs from 1500 rpm to 5000 rpm rather than 1350 rpm to 4500 rpm.
On a side note, if you find yourself wanting a Continental GT with a W12 engine then you have to opt for the Speed as the ‘regular’ GT no longer comes with a 12-cylinder option.
Stomp the throttle from a standstill and you’re met with unexpectedly aggressive yet linear power delivery that sends the 2,281 kg two-door from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.6 seconds as it seeks a top speed of 335 km/h. The aforementioned hand-built power plant is mated to a dual-clutch eight-speed transmission that further expedites the action with a shift-response that, in Sport mode, takes just half the time as that of the standard Continental GT. Tick the option for carbon-ceramic brakes and your stopping power is sublime. The front rotors come in at 440mm – the largest ever fitted to a road car, says Bentley.
The added brawn is brilliantly balanced thanks to a chassis that benefits from a host of upgrades, including all-wheel steering, active all-wheel drive, a three-chamber active air suspension, a 45-volt anti-roll system and, perhaps most importantly, Bentley’s first integration of an electronic rear differential.
The Continental GT Speed is still a big car and likes to be slowed and steadied before you turn into a corner but thanks to all the clever work done on the chassis and with the stability control software, you can get on the power earlier than any other Continental GT ever made.
Tap the ESC button once to unlock dynamic mode, and the limited-slip diff enables the car to playfully tail slide out some of the tighter turns and if you really wish (although we did not try it) you can smash out some full-blown drifts on a race track or even burn some expensive rubber whipping proper doughnuts.
Being a GT you must want to spend a lot of time behind the wheel and you can bet that we loved every moment in the British beast no matter how we were driving it.
It is big, luxurious, comfortable and radically fast. It will devour long stretches of tarmac and not exhaust you but most importantly, the Continental GT Speed is a Bentley that is very much ready and willing to play when the mood hits you. It is quite possibly the ultimate modern GT.
Pricing in South Africa starts at R5,045,000 but add on a few nice options and this price absolutely rockets. The UK demo we were lucky enough to pilot had a list price of around R6,5m thanks to options like the carbon-ceramic brakes, truly mind-blowing Naim sound system, carbon fibre veneer, exterior carbon styling specification and the Touring specification.