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.