“The new GT Speed, with its harder-edged, sportier character, reaffirms the pinnacle positioning of the Continental and broadens its appeal,” says company boss Wolfgang Dürheimer.
Bentley maintains, however, that the Speed retains its refined, high-speed cross-country GT abilities.
The ride height is lowered and steering retuned to give better driver feedback. Grip is enhanced by 275/35R Pirelli PZero rubber mounted on standard 21-inch wheels.
New to the Speed is ZF’s more efficient eight-speed automatic gearbox. This is also fitted as standard on the new V8, but the lower-powered Continental GT W12 makes do — for the time being at least — with the old six-speed ZF unit.
The eight-speed ’box is credited with helping get the Speed’s fuel consumption and CO2 emissions down by around 12 per cent compared to the GT W12, which equates to around 19mpg and 338g/km.
Because the ratios are closer together than in the six-speed transmission, the new ZF is also said to improve in-gear acceleration times.
As on all Continental models, drive goes to all four wheels through a Torsen centre differential that biases drive in favour of the rear axle.
Bentley hasn’t released a kerb weight for the Speed yet, although Autocar understands that it is close to the current Continental GT W12’s. The previous-generation Speed was about 35kg lighter than the standard W12.
As might be expected, styling changes are subtle and focus on new, dark-tinted mesh for the main grille and lower air intake, and a ‘rifled’ finish for the dual exhaust tailpipes.
Bentley has upgraded the Speed’s interior to take the top-level Mulliner Driving specification of leather and trim as standard.
The hottest version of Bentley’s new Continental coupé will be driven by Juha Kankkunen, Derek Bell and Guy Smith at the Festival.
There’s no word on pricing yet, although the order book will open at Goodwood, with first deliveries of the car scheduled for October.