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Friday 12th October 2012

Driven: Bentley Continental GT Speed

"You've got a dual personality - I hate both of them!" growled John Cooper Clarke - does the new GT Speed run the same risk?



One approaches any car billed as having a ‘dual personality’ with some caution. All too often this leaves a car stranded between two marks, unclear of quite what it’s supposed to be. Bentley goes to great lengths to pitch its new Continental GT Speed – the new flagship variant of the footballers’ favourite – as both a rewarding supercar and an effortless luxury cruiser. We know the GT, revised in 2010 with sharper styling, is the consummate long-distance device in either V8 or W12 form, but those claims of sports car dynamics seem optimistic given the 2,320kg kerb weight.

Because the standard one is underpowered...
Because the standard one is underpowered...
The rest of the spec sheet makes for more encouraging reading though. The Speed gets an extra 50hp compared to the ‘entry’ W12 model, lifting power to 625hp, while peak torque of 590lb ft is available from 2,000rpm. The four-wheel drive system favours the rear axle with a 60:40 torque split while an eight-speed ZF auto ’box aids both acceleration and fuel efficiency. The Speed rides 10mm lower than the existing W12 while the springs and anti-roll bars have been stiffened and there’s significantly more negative camber; it’s such changes that are said to endow the Speed with its sportier nature.

Bragging rights
The objective of this first taste of Bentley’s fastest ever production car, then, is to ascertain just whether or not its sporting pretentions translate into genuine sporting ability.

Mighty W12 gets that bit mightier
Mighty W12 gets that bit mightier
The Speed variant of the original model – introduced in 2007, some five years after the arrival of the standard car – eventually accounted for half of all GT sales, so this latest version arrives hot on the heels of the updated GT and is of paramount importance to Bentley (which has become the world’s most prolific manufacturer of 12-cylinder engines, impressively).

Bentley quotes some remarkable performance figures for the Speed; 0-62mph is dispatched in 4.2 seconds while the top speed is 205mph. Can you think of a heavier production car that’s capable of hitting 100mph from standstill in 9.0 seconds flat?

Fat tie brigade
There’s no doubting the Speed’s straight line performance, nor the way in which that twin-turbocharged engine delivers huge overtaking potential in any of the lower six ratios. With a ride quality that’s both cosseting and controlled over all but the roughest of surfaces and decent suppression of wind and road noise, the Speed is a more appealing device for covering ground than most forms of air travel.

The 2,320kg elephant in the room...
The 2,320kg elephant in the room...
That’s true of the standard W12, though. Move the gear selector back into Sport mode, which sharpens throttle response and opens exhaust valves as well as selecting a more aggressive gearshift map, and the GT takes on a different persona. With the adaptive dampers in the firmest of four settings, the chassis is similarly primed to tackle a demanding stretch of road. The Speed responds better to being hustled than you imagine, for it’s not quite the barge its kerb weight suggests it’ll be. In the wet conditions that blighted our time with the car, the levels of confidence inspired by its surefootedness were deeply impressive.

Big boy
The Speed never manages to overcome its mass, though, so although it doesn’t kick and scream its way reluctantly along a twisting stretch, nor it doesn’t cry out for more.

Set-up is noticeably more aggressive
Set-up is noticeably more aggressive
The weight over the front end blunts direction changes and the driver contact points offer neither support nor meaningful insight into grip levels, but the gargantuan 405mm steel front discs and eight-piston calipers do at least shed speed effectively and consistently.

One slightly disconcerting characteristic, particularly on really demanding roads, is a stickiness to the throttle upon lifting off. The Speed continues to surge forward for a split second, which is both alarming upon first acquaintance and disruptive to your flow.

Boys from the black stuff
There is pleasure to be had from edging the Speed towards its limits, but it remains a much more adept Autobahn stormer than back road blaster. An aspect of our test car’s sumptuous cabin summarises the Speed quite neatly; carbon fibre trim sits awkwardly alongside dark wood, and it’s the black stuff that feels out of place.

Culture clash with the interior trimmings?
Culture clash with the interior trimmings?
Although the new Continental GT Speed isn’t quite two cars in one, it’ll certainly be a hit with those buyers for whom bragging rights matter. Rather than dual personalities, we’d be much happier to hear that Bentley has produced a stripped-out, single-minded version of the new GT, as it did with the original model in the shape of the Supersports. If Bentley chooses to base such a car on the nimbler V8 model, we’ll be banging down the doors at Crewe for a test drive.

 



BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT SPEED
Engine
: 5,998cc, W12, twin-turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed ZF automatic, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 625@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 590@2,000rpm
0-62mph: 4.2 sec
Top speed: 205mph
Weight: 2,320kg
MPG: 19.5
CO2: 338g/km
Price: £151,000

Dan Prosser
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Author Discussion

HeMightBeBanned

Original Poster:

220 posts

65 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
The petrolhead in me is disappointed that I just can't get excited about the Conti GT, in any of its many guises.

KevinA4quattro

6,087 posts

167 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
To me it typifies the Bentley 'raison d'etre' of being a gentleman's sporting carriage in that it is luxurious and fast at the same time.

Would I own one - No.

AyBee

6,325 posts

89 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
A car that serves it's purpose very well, it's just a shame about the depreciation curve and footballer image come with it frown

mickers70

65 posts

67 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
Dear PH ers here are the keys to a W12 Conti'.................... who'd throw them right back ?

Zod

27,058 posts

145 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
mickers70 said:
Dear PH ers here are the keys to a W12 Conti'.................... who'd throw them right back ?
Depnds what you mean. If you gave me one, I'd sell it and put the money into something I liked. If you offered me a swap, I'd say no.
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mickers70

65 posts

67 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
Zod said:
mickers70 said:
Dear PH ers here are the keys to a W12 Conti'.................... who'd throw them right back ?
Depnds what you mean. If you gave me one, I'd sell it and put the money into something I liked. If you offered me a swap, I'd say no.
They could have the key's to my '99 Passat estate , what'cha got that you'd keep yikes

SturdyHSV

4,231 posts

54 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
Zod said:
Depnds what you mean. If you gave me one, I'd sell it and put the money into something I liked. If you offered me a swap, I'd say no.
That's fairly easy to say with an Aston V12 Vantage to your name wink

If given the keys would I go for a drive? Yes, to feel the poke. Would I swap it for my Monaro? Nope. Now if they wanted the Clio...

Zod

27,058 posts

145 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
SturdyHSV said:
Zod said:
Depnds what you mean. If you gave me one, I'd sell it and put the money into something I liked. If you offered me a swap, I'd say no.
That's fairly easy to say with an Aston V12 Vantage to your name wink

If given the keys would I go for a drive? Yes, to feel the poke. Would I swap it for my Monaro? Nope. Now if they wanted the Clio...
It just doesn't hold any appeal for me. If someone gave one to you and you had a chance to sell it for close to list and buy something else (no option to use the money for any other purpose), would you take it or sell and get something else?

kbird

221 posts

94 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
Just bought a V8, its a massive step on from the W12. Try one, then make your judgment.......

British Beef

730 posts

52 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
I do not understand where 2.3 tonnes goes in a sports coupe 2 + 2, fair enough the engine and drive train are as beafy as they come but 2.3tonnes is knocking on for the weight of a Range Rover!!

sad61t

549 posts

97 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
kbird said:
Just bought a V8, its a massive step on from the W12. Try one, then make your judgment.......
Any chance of it appearing on the PH Carpool list? Then you can give us the details on why the V8 is the PH car to (dream to) have. Would be on my 'last car before the petrol ban is enforced' list for sure.

635csi

99 posts

58 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
sad61t said:
kbird said:
Just bought a V8, its a massive step on from the W12. Try one, then make your judgment.......
Any chance of it appearing on the PH Carpool list? Then you can give us the details on why the V8 is the PH car to (dream to) have. Would be on my 'last car before the petrol ban is enforced' list for sure.
+1, very interested in this car

sa_20v

3,848 posts

118 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
Drove the V8 the other week - beautiful noise and impressively fast for something that weighs so much.

Earl'Dingleberry

170 posts

27 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
WTH is 2.3 tonnes in this? Is it armoured?

kbird

221 posts

94 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
635csi said:
sad61t said:
kbird said:
Just bought a V8, its a massive step on from the W12. Try one, then make your judgment.......
Any chance of it appearing on the PH Carpool list? Then you can give us the details on why the V8 is the PH car to (dream to) have. Would be on my 'last car before the petrol ban is enforced' list for sure.
+1, very interested in this car
How does the PH Carpool List work? Idiots guide needed please!

Quick pic;



sa_20v

3,848 posts

118 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
Earl'Dingleberry said:
WTH is 2.3 tonnes in this? Is it armoured?
Double-glazed windows, armchair like seats etc. Don't worry though, the Continental GT3 is only 1200kg and a road going version is in the offing! biggrin

Dr S

3,346 posts

113 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
kbird said:
How does the PH Carpool List work? Idiots guide needed please!

Quick pic;


Gorgeous. After my GT was stolen earlier this year I am still hankering about what to buy next. In Summer I was close to go down the Italia route but with Winter approaching and the (male logic derived) need for 4WD, the GT is back on the list.

I read all the positive comments on the 4.0 but am a bit concerned I'd miss the full fat W12 experience. How do you get along with this?


kbird

221 posts

94 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
635csi said:
sad61t said:
kbird said:
Just bought a V8, its a massive step on from the W12. Try one, then make your judgment.......
Any chance of it appearing on the PH Carpool list? Then you can give us the details on why the V8 is the PH car to (dream to) have. Would be on my 'last car before the petrol ban is enforced' list for sure.
+1, very interested in this car
Just sent an email to carpool@ph to see if they're interested in featuring a 'lorry'!

kbird

221 posts

94 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
Dr S said:
kbird said:
How does the PH Carpool List work? Idiots guide needed please!

Quick pic;


Gorgeous. After my GT was stolen earlier this year I am still hankering about what to buy next. In Summer I was close to go down the Italia route but with Winter approaching and the (male logic derived) need for 4WD, the GT is back on the list.

I read all the positive comments on the 4.0 but am a bit concerned I'd miss the full fat W12 experience. How do you get along with this?
Drive a W12 back to back with a V8, they're chalk and cheese, even the original Speed was vague compared to the V8. The MY13 W12 with the 8 speed box might be better but I think it will still feel front end heavy. The V8 is just a better drive, more agile and just as quick

sneaky schnell

1,201 posts

92 months

[news] 
Friday 12th October 2012 quote quote all
AyBee said:
A car that serves it's purpose very well, it's just a shame about the depreciation curve and footballer image come with it frown
In fairness, the footballer image is only perpetuated by journalists who can't be bothered to think of anything original to say.
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