Bentley Continental GT Speed

October 2012

picture of car from the front

Imposing looks are best suited to dark colours

Ratings

Overall Rating 9Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 2Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 6Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 7Controls and display

Comfort Rating 9Comfort

Security Rating 8Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • W12 engine has character and is immensely powerful
  • Cabin is superbly designed and constructed
  • Excellent blend of comfort and handling
  • Performance is worthy of a regular supercar

Gripes

  • Exterior styling is a little controversial
  • Rear room is at a premium
  • Running costs likely to be very high
  • Rear pillars reduce visibility

Bentley has a major hit on its hands with the Continental GT, which opened up the brand to a much broader range of customers. Even though it is far from inexpensive in standard form the higher-spec and pricier Speed model was more popular than the standard W12 car in the first generation car, so it is no surprise therefore that there is now a Speed version of the current generation.

The starting point for the Speed is the standard Continental GT, already a definitive large luxury coupe. Primed for performance and long-distance cruising the Continental offers seating for four but with an emphasis on the front passengers. The GT Speed adds a wire mesh grille, unique alloy wheels and a subtly altered bodykit, and is a significant upgrade of the standard car.

Mechanically the GT Speed is largely identical to the standard car with a four-wheel drive transmission to handle the high output engine, a W12 unit of 6.0-litres and twin turbochargers. However, a small number of detail changes to the engine push the power and torque figures up substantially, with a significant effect on performance.

The combination of a compact coupe body, four-wheel drive and a high output engine makes the GT Speed a seriously fast car and, as such, puts it in competition with performance luxury cars outside of the normal customer target. Despite this efficiency has been improved over the old car and the Speed is both more economical and has lower emissions despite being faster.

The GT is also the most versatile car to be produced by the firm in recent years, delivering a high level of comfort but also impressive performance. As well as the powerful engine, the GT has electronically adjustable suspension to cope with cruising or high performance driving. In the GT Speed this is enhanced to offer a sportier set up in Sport mode whilst retaining the comfort levels expected of a car from Bentley.

Our verdict on the Bentley Continental GT Speed

The standard W12 Continental is not lacking in presence or performance but somehow the Speed version offers even more of both. It has the power to blitz the 200mph mark and be stable at such speeds yet it is sumptuously comfortable and easy to drive. It's not a car for all budgets by any means but it is supremely capable and would be a joy to own.

Costs
Costs rating 2

Running costs for the GT will inevitably be high, thanks to the thirst of the 6.0-litre engine, high insurance costs and the price of servicing. Its high carbon emissions will also put it in the highest bracket for excise duty.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 6

For a car of its size, the GT Speed is relatively inefficient in its use of space. The cabin is cosy rather than spacious, although there is no shortage of room for front seat passengers. There are a handful of storage spaces in the cabin and the boot is usefully large.

picture of car from the rear

Discreet details mark out the Speed version over the regular W12

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 7

The layout of the GT Speed is highly impressive, with attractive yet clear displays, well labelled switches and controls and excellent graphics. The major controls are also well designed and easy to manipulate, adding to the relaxing nature of the driving experience.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 9

The level of comfort on offer in the GT Speed is very impressive, from the supportive seats and the relaxed cabin to the low wind and engine noise levels. The adjustable suspension settings also allow the driver to set the car to their own preferences. Passengers in the rear are less well catered for, although the use of individual seats does improve the amount of support.

Car security
Security Rating 8

A desirable car such as this needs protection, and the standard alarm and immobiliser system should prove sufficient to prevent most thieves.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

A high level of active and passive safety system are present in the GT, aided by the standard four-wheel drive system. Standard ESP and ABS systems are backed up by airbags throughout the cabin and a strong safety cell.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 8

The driving appeal of the GT Speed comes from its ability to deal with any sort of driving. The refined powertrain, comfortable ride and low noise levels make it an excellent car for covering long distances with exceptional ease. Despite the changes the GT Speed is virtually as comfortable as the regular car, but it adds an extra level of dynamism. It responds well to inputs and delivers impressive performance with ease. Its main rivals offer varying blends of handling and comfort, but the GT Speed strikes an excellent balance between the two: few drivers would want it to be further in either direction.

picture of car interior

Beautiful interior is a pleasure to use

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 4

The GT Speed is probably too exclusive and expensive to be a family car, although it would take a family of four without any trouble.

First car appeal
First car Rating 1

The GT Speed is out of the range of first car buyers, and its performance and costs would be prohibitive.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 8

The quality of the GT Speed is superb throughout and is in keeping with standard that Bentley customers would expect. Inside, the Speed feels hand made rather than mass produced, and has the right feel for a luxury car. The image of the Speed is almost as strong, taking the peerless Bentley image and making it more accessible. The extra kudos of the Speed above the standard car also seems to hold significant sway.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

Access to the front of the GT Speed is simple, with a long door on each side that opens wide. The low roofline does not present a problem either. Passengers getting into the rear face a more difficult task, as the front seats slide forward a limited amount.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

As standard the GT Speed comes with a high specification audio system, with the option to upgrade to the bespoke Naim system. Although the sat-nav graphics now seem a little dated it all works very well, and auxiliary inputs and DAB radio are all well integrated.

picture of car in detail

Genuine 205mph makes it one of world's fastest 4-seaters

Colours and trim

The exterior of the GT Speed is available in a variety of shades ranging from the lurid to the conservative, but it is the more subtle hues that suit its shape. Inside the trim is of a very high standard, with quality materials in a wide choice of colours.

Parking

The GT Speed is relatively straightforward to park for a car of its size, although the long tail and nose can make it difficult to judge the proximity of the car to other objects. Standard fit parking sensors front and rear take most of the strain however.

Spare wheel

Tyre repair kit fitted as standard, spare wheel optional.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 4.0-litre (500bhp); 6.0-litre (567bhp, 616bhp). Eight-speed automatic fitted as standard. Trim levels: GT, W12 and Speed.

 

Alternative cars

Aston Martin DBS More performance oriented, impressive image

Ferrari FF Four-seat supercar, looks a matter of taste

Porsche Panamera Turbo S Four-seater is more practical but less stylish

Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG Technically incredible but falls behind on style



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October 2012