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Driven: 2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible. Image by Bentley.

Driven: 2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible
Is this Speed version the most impressive of all the W12-powered Continental GT Convertibles?

   



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2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible

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As the name suggests, the Bentley Continental GT Speed is the high-performance version of Bentley's already pretty high-performance Continental GT. The power increase and four-wheel steering have already impressed us in the coupe, but now it's the turn of the drop-top convertible to go under the microscope. Is this now the Continental of choice?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible
Price: 234,400
Engine: 6.0-litre W12 turbocharged petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power: 659hp
Torque: 900Nm
Emissions: 320g/km
Economy: 20.0mpg
0-62mph: 3.7 seconds
Top speed: 208mph
Boot space: 358 litres

Styling

The changes to the Continental GT Speed are subtle, with dark-tinted headlight clusters and some darkened brightwork, including the grille and the 12 graphics in the side vents. The car also comes with its own 22-inch alloy wheels, as well as some Speed badges on the flanks. Options include a set of carbon-fibre skirts and an Akrapovic exhaust with different tips. But aside from that, the Continental GT Speed looks just like any other 12-cylinder Conti, and there's something nice about that. The Continental is already a good-looking car, and the Speed isn't trying too hard.

Interior

One of the most impressive features of any Bentley is the cabin, and the Continental GT Speed doesn't disappoint. The Speed model comes with unique duotone upholstery that uses hide and matching Alcantara, which features on the seats, centre console and steering wheel. And like the exterior, there are subtle Speed badges dotted around.

Other than that, the Speed's cabin is much the same as that of the standard Continental, with beautiful leather and a choice of pristine veneers, as well as a massive central touchscreen. It's a screen shared with the latest Porsche models, although it comes with some bespoke Bentley graphics. The system works well, as you'd expect, and it's nicely integrated with the digital instrument display, which is based on Audi's impressive Virtual Cockpit cluster. And for those that prefer the analogue look, the cluster can be switched to two dial displays, customers can have a screen rotation system that swaps the screen for a set of dials inlaid in the veneer.

But while the technology is great, it's the handcrafted quality of the materials that impresses most. The leather seats feel beautiful and the switchgear is all finely crafted. That said, our test car's bonnet release handle came off when we tried to see the engine, which might raise a few quality and durability questions.

Practicality

Officially, the Continental GTC is a four-seater, but that's only on paper. In the real world, adults will struggle to get comfortable in the back seats unless those in front are quite short, and although access isn't too difficult, the two-door design means entry and egress aren't quite as glamorous as they would be from the front. That said, the back seats make a very useful parcel shelf, and space in the front is plentiful, even with the fabric hood up. There's even a sensibly sized boot, with 358 litres of capacity. That's almost as much as you get from a Volkswagen Golf.

Performance

The Speed versions of the Continental come with a slightly upgraded version of the 'standard' 6.0-litre W12 engine. Producing 659hp and 900Nm of torque, it's an absolute monster that feeds all four wheels via a recalibrated eight-speed automatic gearbox. Despite the car weighing more than 2.4 tonnes, it'll get from 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds. The sprint from 0-100mph takes just eight seconds, and the top speed is a heady 208mph.

But the figures aren't what impresses most. It's the way the Continental GTC Speed achieves them with so little fuss and so little drama. It glides its way towards the horizon as if it's merely jogging, but there are Porsche 911s that can't hope to keep up. It's a wondrous thing to drive, although it feels more genteel and more refined than the lighter V8s available lower down the Continental range. Whether that's a positive or not depends on your outlook.

Of course, it isn't especially economical. The official figures suggest it'll do 20mpg, and although that might be possible (or even beatable) on a long run, you're looking at something in the teens most of the time. Especially if you want to use all that performance.

Ride & Handling

As well as adding more power and retuning the suspension, Bentley has also fitted the GT Speed with a clever new four-wheel steering system that is designed to reduce the turning circle and improve agility, as well as upping high-speed stability. The system works really well, and it makes the GT Speed more impressive in corners than anything else in the Bentley range. The steering is well-weighted, the response is immediate and the grip is seemingly endless, while the all-wheel steering pivots the car through the bend. It's imperceptible to the driver, but that's part of what makes it so good. As far as you're concerned, it just turns tighter and grips for longer than its less powerful siblings.

But despite its sporty credentials, the GT Speed still rides well. It feels stiff and heavy at times, especially in Sport mode, but in the Comfort setting it just soaks up every lump and bump. It's uncanny, and it makes the Continental exceptionally good over long distances. If you're planning to cross a continent any time soon, the Continental is the car to use.

Value

With prices knocking on the door of 250,000, the Continental GTC Speed is hardly cheap. In fact, it's significantly more expensive than the coupe version, and you don't get much extra for your money. But the asking price includes posh leather upholstery and the usual goodies such as satellite navigation, climate control and a digital instrument cluster. It's hardly a prison cell.

The thing is, nobody is going to buy a completely basic Continental, and much less a GTC Speed. Spec one of these up and you're looking at 275,000 plus without even trying. Whether that represents value depends on your priorities, but the fact remains that cars such as the BMW M8 Convertible will go just as quickly for considerably less money.

Verdict

The GTC Speed might be thirsty and it might be expensive, but it's an absolutely staggering car. For years, we've thought the best Continentals were fitted with the lighter V8 engine, but this car has made us question the wisdom of that, such is the breadth of capability on display. And losing the roof only makes it that bit more dramatic. As an aristocratic grand tourer, there's nothing better.



James Fossdyke - 29 Jul 2022



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2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible. Image by Bentley.2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible. Image by Bentley.2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible. Image by Bentley.2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible. Image by Bentley.2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible. Image by Bentley.

2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible. Image by Bentley.2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible. Image by Bentley.2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible. Image by Bentley.2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible. Image by Bentley.







 

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