The coupé’s sledgehammer performance betters that of Bentley’s £160,000 Continental Supersports, the two-seater that marked the high point of the old Continental range, and will pitch it head to head with the new Aston Martin Vanquish, also revealed at Goodwood.
At the heart of the latest Speed is a significantly more powerful 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 engine, with peak output hiked to 616bhp with 590lb ft of torque — 61bhp and 37lb ft up on the old Speed.
As a result, top speed is lifted 3mph above its predecessor’s 202mph, and its 0-60mph time is cut to 4.0sec from 4.3sec.
In line with the higher performance, Bentley has stiffened the chassis and uprated some hardware in the air-sprung suspension. The result, according to Bentley, is a sportier and more engaging drive, with tauter handling and improved agility.
“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.