1. There’s Porsche goodness under the skin
Bentley makes grand tourers, right, not sports cars? True, but that doesn’t mean it can’t reach into the Porsche technology cookie jar now and then to make its cars a little sportier. (Both are VW Group brands, and the Conti GT sits on the Panamera platform.)
The Crewe maker has done just that to create this, the new Continental GT Speed. It’s still an incredibly comfortable luxury coupe. But now it’s a luxury coupe able to comfortably eclipse 200mph and drift.
How so? Key to the Speed are an electronical rear differential and rear-wheel steering. The Flying Spur was the first Bentley to get rear-wheel steering (a common feature on Porsches), and the Speed adapts the system for the Conti GT. It promises make the car more stable at high speed and more agile on a twisty road.
The new differential, together with the Speed’s more rear-biased four-wheel drive set-up, should mean this car has it all – more traction and grip in normal driving and easy, controllable slides when you’re just messing around (on your own private test track, obviously).
2. The engine is a 650bhp ‘bargain’
Bentley’s W12 engine is one of its key assets; Bentley makes far more 12-cylinder engines per year than either Ferrari or Lamborghini. For the limited edition Bacalar (just 12 were offered, at £1.5m a pop), unveiled last year, the twin-turbo, 6.0-litre W12 was turned up to 650bhp. That’s essentially the engine in the more affordable new Speed.
Fast? if you’re in any way disappointed with the Speed’s 3.6sec 0-62mph time or its 208mph top speed then Bentley (and probably one or two F1 teams looking for driving talent) would no doubt be interested to hear from you.
3. There’s a bit of racing car magic here
In 2019 Bentley broke a record at the famous Pikes Peak hillclimb in America with a production-spec W12 Continental GT. Though not exactly standard, the car wasn’t crazy either; just a few safety and weight-reduction modifications. So good was it to drive that, with the record in the bag, Bentley even let a few normal people drive it – people like us. And it was a blast: noisy, fast, drifty.
There is, Bentley promises, a little of that car in the new Continental GT Speed.
4. The Speed hasn’t forgotten it’s a Bentley
While there are a few special exterior details on the Speed, it’s inside that you’ll really see where your money’s gone. There’s plenty of sporty, soft-touch alcantara, nicely subtle Speed badging, a unique leather split to the interior trim and diamond quilting to the seats. And while the suspension is firm in Sport mode, the comfier settings preserve the Conti’s strong long-distance credentials.
5. It’s not going to be cheap
Expect a price between £180,000 and £190,000 when the Speed goes on sale later this year.
Bentley Continental GT Speed: £180,000-£190,000 (estimate), 650bhp twin-turbo W12, 3.6sec 0-62mph, 208mph