Speed is as synonymous with Bentley as luxury or craftsmanship. After all, going racing was the first thing Walter Owen Bentley and his brother Horace Mulliner Bentley did after founding their car company over a century ago. The automaker won Le Mans four years straight in the late 1920s and still has a racing team to this day. But the primarily luxury- and comfort-focused Continental GT and Flying Spur road cars that make their way out of Bentley’s Crewe, England factory’s front doors today, while swift, have vanishingly few tangible links to that racing past. Well, except for one: The Bentley Continental GT Speed.
More Power, More Speed
As its name implies, the Speed is the fastest and most capable version of the Continental you can buy, and for 2022 Bentley is doing a lot more than just giving its flagship more power. But, as you might have guessed, there is still more power. The top-dog normal Continental GT with the twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 makes an already pretty hefty 626 horsepower and an almost Satan-pleasing 664 lb-ft of torque. (A twin-turbo V-8 engine also is available with 542 hp and 568 lb-ft.) While the new Speed has no more torque than lesser W12 Contis, it now has 650 horses in the stable.
Bentley says this means the new GT Speed can ruffle its feathers and sprint from rest to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 206 mph. However, the last “normal” Conti GT we tested with the W-12 made that same sprint in 3.3 seconds, so we’re pretty bullish on that 3.5-second number; on a perfect day in ideal conditions, the 2022 Continental GT Speed should throw down quicker numbers with ease.
This Big One Can Dance
But now in its third generation, the Continental Speed is about so much more than just straight-line speed. The eight-speed automatic transmission is now twice as quick at its business of shifting and the rear-wheel steering that first made an appearance on the new Flying Spur has been added to this mightiest of all Contis. However, unlike in the Flying Spur (where the rear-axle steering’s main purpose is to effectively tighten the turning circle), the Speed’s rear-wheel steering is set up to enhance agility and performance.
At low speeds, the rear wheels turn opposite the fronts for quicker, more immediate directional changes. Bentley says this, in combination with a quicker ratio steering rack, gives the Speed a feeling of “nimbleness” that should far exceed that of the standard models. At high speeds, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels (in-phase, as it’s known), virtually stretching the car’s wheelbase and granting extra stability. Massive silicon carbide brake rotors handle the stopping, and they peek out from behind Speed-exclusive 22-inch wheels.
The Speed also gets an electronically controlled limited-slip differential on the rear axle. A first for any Bentley, the e-LSD works hand in hand with the stability control systems, Bentley’s Dynamic Ride system (read: electronically controlled active anti-roll bars), and the air suspension to try and maximize traction out of corners and in any weather condition.
Three driving modes change the character of the new Speed. Bentley and Comfort mode are tailored toward a more relaxing driving experience—you know, for those tortuously lengthy runs from London to Zürich. Sport, on the other hand, is for slicing down an alpine pass. In Sport a majority of engine torque is sent to the rear wheels, the suspension firms up, and the stability control systems are backed off to give the driver more control of their almost three-ton GT.
Outside, the Speed gets a blacked-out grille, some unique fender vents, new carbon fiber side skirts, and unique “Speed” badging to differentiate it from your run-of-the-mill (if you can really call it that) Continental GT. Inside, there is a mix of luscious primary and secondary leathers that can be customized 15 and 11 different ways, respectively, as well as Alcantara accents for an extra dose of “special.”
Deliveries will start in the fall, and while Bentley isn’t talking dollars and cents at the moment, we expect it to be a pretty penny more than the $220,000 the automaker charges for the standard Continental with the W-12 engine. Expect to hand over around closer to $260,000 when pricing is finalized later this year. But, if the new Continental GT Speed really interests you, we think you’re capable of speeding right past that speed bump.
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