I like Bentleys. However, upon taking delivery of Crewe’s latest ‘Speed’ iteration of the familiar Continental GT, ‘like’ immediately turned into ‘I’m not giving this back’. The visual impact from the somewhat subtle changes made to this new update have turned a nice-looking car into an extremely attractive and rather purposeful beast.
Excessive body kits and ludicrous wings are for peasants, and the subtle folds one sees here actually serve a purpose. Let me explain. This is the fastest car Bentley has ever produced. Seek out a suitable stretch, a pilot with the appropriate undercarriage and this flying B will show you 206mph. That, quite frankly, is ridiculous. And now I need one. I applaud the person who decides that a car which already sports a mighty 6 litre W12 engine, finds it necessary to bolt on a whacking great turbo charger. And not just one, but two of the sodding things.
With a pressing appointment in the Midlands, the decision was taken to completely ignore the Bentley’s splendid ‘Continental’ moniker and stick to some of the UK’s more familiar mix of A and B roads. Some of which felt hilariously inappropriate for the graceful brute (oxymoron essential). Due to time constraints, the endurance of a little motorway monotony was inevitable, and realistically, a good initial test. I suspect this is where many happy customers will be putting in the miles.
Refinement is essential, but a vehicle with tyres as vast as the Bentley’s has no right to be so quiet on our ageing, noisy infrastructure. Due to extensive sound-proofing and its double-glazed glass, conversations can be had in whispers at seemingly unprintable speeds. With adaptive cruise control engaged, high-end Naim audio system gently permeating the cabin, and the beautifully crafted, diamond-quilted hide seats supporting, the UK’s motorway network morphs from dreary chore into a congenial cruise. Such is the wonderful detachment one experiences from the general hubbub outside when piloting Crewe’s latest continent crusher.
The cabin is beautifully laid out and the materials and workmanship are, as expected, second to none. From the Bremont time piece, to the intricate, contrasting cross stitching, I relish the detail. One too many beauty shots later and we’re in danger of being a little tardy for our impending engagement. Thankfully, people tend not to dawdle when they glimpse the imposing, ever so slightly aggressive-looking GT Speed in their mirrors and with a considerable amount of time now liberated, we left the simplicity of three lanes and ventured on to the more challenging, twisty and sometimes downright unforgiving lanes to see if the big girl could disguise her considerable heft.
Slot the machined gear stick into sport, and the corresponding audio sorcery now ensuing from the rear of the car is not only delicious, but also serves to remind you what such an action means, and to perhaps ponder the sanity of said decision on the slightly damp, gravel-strewn, diminutive B road which lies ahead.
The GT Speed is a large car and these lanes vary from tight to single track. But such a glorious soundtrack tends to rouse my inner hooligan, and wrestling control from the eight-speed gear box via the paddles behind the steering wheel, it seems forward route planning is now essential. No sooner has one buried the proverbial loud pedal deep into the thick carpet and experienced the unfathomable shove that only the most elite engineering can produce, you’ve already arrived at a distant bend far sooner than anticipated, with which the big Bentley is now somehow negotiating with a haste that seems mechanically impossible. The four-wheel drive system is unstoppable. Even on these roads with a heavy right foot, the traction control system’s interference is minimal. The carbon ceramic brakes fitted to our car would, no doubt, stop a large house and, once familiar with that initial bite, elicit the sort of confidence one needs when venturing off piste, shall we say.
The grip, stopping power and outright batshit pace delivered from such a substantial luxury GT is deeply impressive. Whether it be zero fatigue mileage consumption or suspension set to hot hatch for breakfast, the Bentley Continental GT Speed is a wonderful machine with looks to match. Listing specs and numbers a tad boorish? Bollocks, this is the GT Speed: 626 bhp, 820Nm of torque @1700rpm, 0–60mph in four seconds, 206mph (yes, worth repeating).
For those not schooled in the way of the torque, achieving that figure at such low rpm results in the power to shift planets with a mere glance at the throttle pedal. And while we’re talking technicals, let’s put that 0–60 time into perspective: this car weighs well over 2 tonnes. Shifting all that metal, plus the dozen cows that make the cockpit such an amenable place, is a triumph.
I like this car. It’s got my name on it.
Check the Bentley website for more information on the Continental GT Speed www.bentleymotors.com.