Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

Sticking with the Volkswagen Group’s MSB platform, the GT Speed carries over the same three-chamber, adaptively damped air suspension as the regular GT and the same eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and electronically controlled active four-wheel drive system, all of which run recalibrated software to deliver a more sporting focus. It has the Bentley Dynamic Ride 48V active anti-roll bars that come as an option on lesser GTs, but they run with even more extensively retuned settings.

Those clever anti-roll bars need to work even more cleverly because, unlike any other GT to date, the GT Speed also features a four-wheel steering system adapted from that of the Bentley Flying Spur. It works via a secondary steering rack acting on the tie rods of the multi-link rear axle, but its tuning is very different here. The system not only aids manoeuvrability at low speeds by shortening the car’s effective wheelbase, but it also moves the GT’s centre of yaw forward and away from the rear axle, allowing the chassis to pivot much closer to its middle when cornering. The four-wheel steering system’s effectiveness, Bentley says, is as much to do with the aggressiveness with which it turns those rear wheels as it is the angle to which it turns them.

The GT Speed’s other technological first is an electronically controlled torque-vectoring rear diff, which is in fact a planetary axle drive teamed with a pair of clutches. This can behave as a fully open diff, as a 50:50 locking unit, or even to overdrive the loaded outside rear wheel when the electronics deem it appropriate. It not only improves traction but also gives the rear axle – and, by extension, the driver’s right foot – much greater influence over the handling balance and cornering attitude of the chassis.

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The four-wheel drive system could support a rear-wheel-drive-only mode, Bentley says. In Sport mode it biases some 70% of torque to the rear axle by default, and more at times. But Crewe’s engineers opted for an actively managed torque distribution that might even shift the balance of drive forwards and aft two or three times during the full course of a corner, in order to variously mobilise and then stabilise the rear axle and manipulate the mass, momentum and attitude of the car without you even knowing it’s happening.

The Speed is powered by a lightly overhauled version of Bentley’s Cheshire-made 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12, which makes 24bhp more than in a regular GT W12, so 650bhp but the same 664lb ft. Iron discs are standard, while the optional carbon-ceramic discs fitted here are the biggest used by any current production car. Alone, they save some 33kg of unsprung mass – if you have them.

The test car weighed 2279kg on the MIRA scales, so 16kg less than the Bentley Continental GT W12 Coupé we tested in 2018 but clearly still a very weighty, very ‘Bentley’ luxury operator.