We're wowed by one of the fastest luxury coupe's in the world.
The Speed is the result of owners requesting a Continental GT with a harder edge. So, is it a success? Undoubtedly. The enhancements don’t detract from the standard car’s cosseting abilities, but they add a lot more driver appeal and simply incredible performance. Of course, this comes at a huge cost. The price is massive, the economy dismal and the emissions highly eco-unfriendly. But the Speed is an amazing machine and one of the best-ever Bentleys.
Everything about Bentley screams excess – but here’s a car that takes this philosophy to new heights. With a 600bhp 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 engine, the Continental GT Speed has 48bhp more than the ‘basic’ model and is the first car in the firm’s history to officially claim a 200mph top speed. It also costs an extra £17,000 – taking the price tag to £137,500.
We’ve already sampled the mighty machine in Europe (Issue 979) but is it as impressive on UK roads? Thanks to bigger air intakes plus new con rods and pistons, the W12 now produces a huge 750Nm of torque from only 1,750rpm. That’s enough for a 4.3-second 0-60mph time, a 202mph top speed and the ability to accelerate from 50-70mph in a mere 2.3 seconds.
As you might suspect, huge performance is available throughout the rev range. The engine makes little more than a muted roar, yet the Bentley travels at what seems like warp speeds. With the world’s largest carbon ceramic brake discs (an option at more than £9,000), the newcomer stops incredibly well, too.
It never feels less than enormous around corners, though, and you are well aware of its two-tonne weight as soon as you turn into a bend. But once there, it sticks to the tarmac, the four-wheel drive providing massive grip and the uprated and lowered suspension controlling body roll brilliantly. While the steering lacks feel, it is accurate, and overall this car is far more invol-ving to drive than its standard stablemate. Although the ride is a touch firmer, revised anti-roll bars mean the Speed is never flustered.
Visual changes are subtle. Stylists have added lower, wider air intakes and a squarer, more upright grille, and the tailpipes are larger, too. The brakes are wrapped in gorgeous 20-inch rims. Inside the surprisingly practical 2+2 cabin are diamond-stitched leather seats and a turned-aluminium dash. Comfort is guaranteed, with excellent high-speed cruising ability – but it would be even better if you did not have to stop for fuel so often.
Use the performance and economy will dip into single figures: we struggled to get much more than 17mpg, even during gentle driving. And CO2 emissions of 396g/km mean a £400 road tax bill. But then, this is one of the most extreme Bentleys ever.