Bentley Continental GT Speed

25 Dec, 2012 10:00am Mat Watson

Our verdict on the new 205mph Bentley Continental GT Speed - the fastest road car Bentley has ever built


Grand tourers are supposed to be able to cross continents, so although other cars will outhandle the GT Speed on Europe’s finest driving roads, none will get you there in such effortless comfort. And should your route take in a section of unrestricted autobahn, very few models will be able to live with the Bentley’s 205mph top speed.

With its 205mph top speed, the Continental GT Speed is Bentley’s fastest-ever production car. But there’s much more to it than that, as we found it’s just as capable at wafting along Britain’s battered and congested roads at 30mph as it is crossing continents at a devastating pace.

Admittedly, the Speed isn’t quite as comfortable as the normal GT. Its air-suspension is lower and stiffer, while the 21-inch alloys are wrapped in just a thin ribbon of rubber. But with the adjustable dampers in their most compliant setting, the GT Speed still glides like a Bentley should.

As you pass through a bustling town centre, you’re cocooned from the hullaballoo of the outside world by the excellent soundproofing. The faint seismic rumble of the massive W12 engine is the only reminder of the power you have at your disposal.

For the Speed, Bentley has tuned the twin-turbo 6.0-litre to 616bhp; the regular W12’s 567bhp clearly wasn’t enough. More telling is the 100Nm rise in torque to 800Nm; so from about 1,500rpm, there’s a tidal wave of thrust that ensures the car lives up to its name.

It’s this low-end grunt that makes the performance so accessible on the road. And while the engine never sings like an Italian V12, even at its 6,000rpm red line, there’s something awe-inspiring about the bassy bellow, which sounds even better with the Speed’s freer-flowing exhaust.

The GT Speed has a traditional eight-speed auto gearbox, and in town it’s far smoother than the twin-clutch box in the Ferrari F12, while under hard acceleration it can still change gears fast enough to satisfy most drivers.

If there is one complaint, it’s that the box changes down too eagerly, even in Comfort mode – strange considering the engine is capable of pulling any gear at pretty much any speed. Still, there are no issues with how the Speed puts its power down out of bends, as the 4WD delivers incredible traction. It steers and handles surprisingly well given its huge bulk, too. Yes, an Aston Martin Vanquish is sharper, but it’s not as nice to sit in.

But for the quilted leather seats and metal dash trim, the Speed is identical inside to the regular model. It’s a similar story on the outside: the black grille, fluted exhausts and larger wheels are the only giveaways that this is the fastest Bentley road car ever. But that’s how it should be, even if it can do 205mph.

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Around Vera/Mojacar in Almeria, Southern Spain is where a lot of European car makers test their cars - Its the only desert in Europe and as I spend a lot of time here I see loads of the cars - JaguarLand Rover, porsches, VWs, peugots etc. - they are well driven usually in a convoy of 2 or 3 - the exception is Bentley where they are driven at excessive speed - breaking speed limits and overtaking on blind corners scattering other cars - having said that I'd still have one :)

Key specs

  • Price: £151,000
  • Engine: 6.0-litre W12
  • Power/torque: 616bhp/800Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph/Top speed: 4.0 secs/205mph
  • Economy/CO2: 19.5mpg/338g/km
  • Equipment: Leather trim, climate control, sat-nav, air-suspension, adaptive damping, 21-inch alloys
  • On sale: Now

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