Bentley Continental GT Speed

On Speed

The need for speed was felt by Dieter Losskarn in the fastest Bentley ever. The British Power Coupé Continental GT Speed is an absolute dream to drive.

A perfect symbiosis of impressive performance and luxurious comfort.

In 2002 the Bentley Continental was the first model in the new era of the iconic British brand. Founded in the early 20th century by Walter Owen Bentley the company was acquired by the mighty Volkswagen group in 1998. The Germans did not only retain the Britishness of the traditional car maker, but developed a new car in only four years. Based on their Phaeton platform, but with an entirely new robe of alluring lines and inspired by the Bentley DNA, the Continental GT was born.

Now I am in the third generation of the GT, in its Speed version. Which is the fastest streetcar in Bentley’s 102-year history.

So luckily the Conti GT didn’t follow the current widespread downsizing trend in the car industry. It’s even more powerful and agile than the GT W12 it is based on. And it is the first Bentley, that can actually drift quite easily. But that would obviously be too vulgar for the gentlemen’s brand to mention. Though they put in more elaborate wording: ‘The owner has the choice of balancing steering and throttle to achieve effortless and advanced yaw angles'.

ENGINE

6.0-l. twin turbo W12, paired with an 8-speed dual clutch auto,

four-wheel drive & four-wheel steering


POWER

485kW and 900Nm

TOP SPEED

335 km/h

Mainly responsible for this immensely improved driving pleasure are the new four-wheel steering, an electronic limited-slip differential and a much larger rear bias for the four-wheel drive system. Turning the upper classy Ben into a bit of a sophisticated hooligan.

When pushing the start button initially the sharpest Conti ever sets of in Bentley mode, somehow subdued. But in ‘Sport’ mode things change. The dashboard Toblerone rolls into view. As a congenial gimmick you can have it with a digital instrument panel, push it again and it turns into a traditional one. In Sport up to 90% of the power goes to the rear axle.

The 2.2 tons feel like nothing on my favourite windy coastal road Clarence Drive. But, I must admit, I am very happy about those ceramic brakes. The biggest ones (440mm) ever used in a street-legal automobile. And on Clarence Drive I remember that the Speed comes topless as well. That would definitely add to the aural pleasures already provided by the W12 powerhouse under the hood. And despite its rigorously increased sportiness this Ben is still surprisingly comfortable. The most desirable in the current line-up.

And as in all my recent car pieces, the same question pops up: What will the future bring? Well, as with other glorious internal combustion engine powered rides, their time is limited. The first fully electric Bentley is expected for 2025. From 2030 all Bentleys will be electric. And since May this year Bentley’s mentor in the vast Volkswagen family is Audi, not Porsche anymore. So all future Bentleys will have electric e-tron platforms.

Let me quickly go back to Clarence Drive with the Conti GT Speed, to enjoy this glorious W12 one more time.

TECH SPECS

Bentley Continental GT Speed

Engine

3.7-l. six-cylinder turbo, paired with an 8-speed auto PDK

Engine

6.0-l. twin turbo W12, paired with an 8-speed dual clutch auto, four-wheel drive & four wheel steering

Power

485kW and 900Nm

Top Speed

335 km/h

0-100km/h

3.6 seconds

Battery capacity

93 kWh

Price

from R 5 045 000

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