What is it?
The Bentley Continental GT Speed is a slightly evasive car to define. It does what it says on the tin, being the fastest, most powerful and most driver-focused version of this third-generation Continental GT that currently exists, or that is ever likely to. But it’s not a special, limited-series, 'get-’em-while-you-can' performance derivative, instead slotting into Bentley’s European product line-up as a replacement for the standard Bentley Continental GT W12 rather than alongside it.
The Crewe-based firm’s stated aim for this car was that it be as refined, luxurious, comfortable and usable as any other GT – and also the most agile and dynamic-handling Continental that has ever been built. Quite the ask when you think about it. But this car is also quite the technological departure, being the first GT with four-wheel steering and the first with an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential – and also getting its regular GT-spec air suspension, active anti-roll bars and four-wheel drive system all adapted to produce even greater body control and handling agility than any of its range-mates can muster.
GT Speeds get 22in wheels as standard, their size being necessary for Bentley to offer (as an option) the biggest carbon-ceramic brakes available on any new car in the world. You get whopping 440mm carbon-silicon-carbide discs and 10-piston calipers up front, if you’re prepared to pay for them. They look about ready to stop a bullet train in its tracks, by the way.
Those brakes are also the one place where a GT Speed might weigh less than an equivalent GT W12 or V8; because, in a wider sense, this isn’t a car where Bentley has looked to make gains through ‘lightweighting’ or aerodynamic modifications.
Externally, some new smoked radiator grilles, an optional carbonfibre styling kit, some discreet ‘Speed’ badges and those aforementioned 22s identify the car. Internally, there are a few bold new colour and trim combinations, and a new kind of dark-tinted, ‘engine-turned ‘aluminium decorative trim.
The idea is that this Continental GT loses nothing. It’s simply a faster, more involving, sweeter-handling, better GT – and it can be had as a two-door, four-seat Coupé, or in the two-door, four-seat Convertible form in which we tested it.