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New Bentley Continental GT Speed lands. Image by Bentley.

New Bentley Continental GT Speed lands
Power’s up to 659hp, top speed to 208mph, chassis is sharpened to make the Conti GT Speed great to drive.
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2021-05-05: First drive: Bentley Continental GT Speed

What's all this about?

Well, this one wasn't entirely unexpected, but that doesn't make the news that the Speed moniker is making its way onto the third-generation Continental GT for the first time any less enjoyable. It follows on from a similar high-power model of the Bentayga, although this Conti has got even more horsepower chops than the Bentley SUV.

How much power are we talking?

Fully 659hp, an increase of 24hp over the, um, 'standard' W12 motor you'd find elsewhere in the Conti's range. Torque is unchanged at 900Nm but, even so, with a 0-62mph time of 3.6 seconds (0.1s quicker than a GT W12 Coupe) and a top speed of 208mph (+1mph), it's enough for the Speed to fully deserve its epithet.

Mind, it's not the most powerful Continental yet to see the light of day, as that honour still goes to the second installation of the Supersports series, which had a gigantic 710hp at its disposal when it launched in 2017. Nevertheless, the new Continental GT Speed should be a cracker to drive.

In what way?

The Continental GT Speed is fitted with Electronic All-Wheel Steering, something the Flying Spur has employed to good effect to boost its agility. However, Bentley says the Speed's set-up will be a more active part of proceedings than it is on the Spur, while both the traction control and the torque distribution of the Active All-Wheel Drive system have been recalibrated to make the car more rear-biased in most situations. There's an electronic rear differential (eLSD) for the first time on any Bentley Continental, the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox shifts twice as fast in Sport as the same unit in the W12, and optional carbon-ceramic brakes can shed another 33kg of unsprung mass from the GT Speed's sizeable frame.

It also employs much of the tech already seen on the Continental range, like 48-volt Bentley Dynamic Ride active anti-roll bars and three-chamber air suspension with adaptive damping, while a set of bespoke 22-inch alloys (bright silver as standard, Dark Tint or Black Gloss finishes as options) should have some chunky rubber on them to further aid grip. In terms of styling, note the Dark Tint grilles up front, meatier side sills, 'Jewel'-effect fuel and oil filler caps, and chrome 'Speed' badges on the front wings. Inside, a bicolour split of leather and Alcantara is specific to the Speed, with a choice of 15 primary and 11 secondary hues to choose from. The racy Alcantara makes its way onto the steering wheel, while more Dark Tint themery can be had with an engine-turned aluminium centre console in the finish. There are 'Speed' logos embroidered onto the head restraints, there's a 'Speed' decal on the passenger dashboard, and all the hide features plush diamond-in-diamond quilting.

Right, and is that our lot for now?

Yes, although we'll let Dr Matthias Rabe, the member of the board for engineering at Bentley Motors, just have his say: "The new Continental GT Speed represents the very pinnacle of performance grand touring. This new model is the most powerful expression of Continental GT values, exciting and dynamic, with unique Speed detailing to enhance the ownership experience and offering customers more control over the character of the car.

"The world's most luxurious grand tourer is now truly more capable than ever before, with a new sportier edge which will appeal to performance-focused drivers. The Speed is the latest chapter in the Continental GT story, helping Bentley customers to create their own extraordinary journeys."

Expect prices to be about 20 per cent more than those of the Continental GT W12 when the Speed goes on sale in Q3 of this year, so around £192,000 or thereabouts.

Matt Robinson - 23 Mar 2021

2021 Bentley Continental GT Speed. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Continental GT Speed. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Continental GT Speed. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Continental GT Speed. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Continental GT Speed. Image by Bentley.

2021 Bentley Continental GT Speed. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Continental GT Speed. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Continental GT Speed. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Continental GT Speed. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Continental GT Speed. Image by Bentley.    - Bentley road tests
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