The Continental GT is Bentley’s ultimate grand tourer, and the Speed is the ultimate Continental GT. It’ll hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and top out at 205 mph. But this car’s impressive specs don’t tell the whole story. With a Bentley, it’s all about how good it makes you feel.
(Full disclosure: When Bentley offered me a Continental GT Speed for a week, I couldn’t turn it down. For that week, I had it made. This is the best car I drove all year.)
This is Bentley’s highest-performing Continental GT. Up front, there’s a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 that puts out 650 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. All that torque is available down low in the rev range from 1,500 to 5,000 rpm, and the power is routed through an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive. It’s enough to get this coupe, which weighs more than 5,000 pounds, to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.
Stopping and cornering are handled just as skillfully. Bentley fits the GT Speed with the world’s largest production disc brakes, an accolade it shares with the Lamborghini Urus. Massive 17.3-inch front discs bring this beast down from speed quickly. To help with handling, the GT Speed is equipped with an electronic limited-slip differential and a rear-wheel steering system.
None of this comes cheap, of course. The GT Speed starts at $274,900 including a $2,600 gas-guzzler tax and a $2,725 destination charge. On top of that, my tester was loaded with $62,910 in options, bringing its final price to a whopping $343,135.
For a six-figure luxury GT that weighs as much as a half-ton pickup, this thing hustles when you throw it into a corner. The GT Speed comes standard with an electronic anti-roll system called Bentley Dynamic Ride that controls body motions when cornering, to the point that it makes any sloppiness nearly nonexistent. This cornering ability is enhanced by the limited-slip differential, which shuffles torque between the rear wheels to give you the best power delivery based on your level of grip at each corner. You can honestly feel the active diff helping you, as if someone is pushing you through each turn. This agility is further enhanced by the rear-wheel steering system that works so well it makes the Speed GT turn like a car half its size.
That monster of an engine, though, is a true marvel. With all that power and torque, accelerating feels like you’re going into warp speed. It’s almost scary quick, and the power feels limitless. Cars next to you at a stoplight disappear from the rear-view mirror in mere seconds.
When it comes to just cruising around, it doesn’t get any better than a Bentley. For as quick and brutal as it can be when pushed, the Continental GT Speed is so smooth and quiet that you almost forget all that horsepower just a pedal blip away. Turn the drive selector knob to Comfort, and the GT Speed is as cushy as an old American land yacht, billowing softly over road imperfections.
The Continental GT Speed is a rolling statement and has a presence that can’t be ignored. This particular one is also quite possibly the reddest car I’ve ever seen in my life. The exterior is painted in what Bentley calls St. James Red, accented by black trim around the headlights, exhausts, lower door trim, badges, grille, 22-inch wheels, and carbon fiber lip spoilers at the front and rear.
The interior is even redder – and for me, it’s too much. Nearly every part of the cabin is covered in a shade of red called Hotspur, accented by white trim. This treatment wouldn’t look out of place in a 1980s Cadillac Sedan DeVille. The red headliner just makes it that much more outrageous.
Of course, in proper Bentley fashion, the Speed’s interior is immaculately detailed. From the deep-pile carpeting of floor mats that wouldn’t look out of place in a home, to the suede on the roof and seats, Bentley knows how to do luxury. The heated seats and thick heated steering wheel will coddle you, the Bang & Olufsen sound system will wow you and the multi-color mood lighting will relax you. But it’s not all perfect.
The Bentley Rotating Display on the dashboard goes from showing the infotainment touchscreen to three auxiliary gauges to a carbon fiber panel at the touch of a button. But it’s honestly just a gimmick, and an expensive one, at $6,490. Plus, the multimedia system needs work. Bentley borrows the tech Porsche used to use in the Panamera, and it takes a long time to boot up. A car that costs this much should not have a last-gen infotainment system; there should be nothing but cutting-edge tech in here.
Low-profile tires can make a car ride rough. Not so here. Even though the Continential GT Speed rides on 22-inch black wheels wrapped with low-profile tires, the suspension does a good job of soaking up the bumps, especially in comfort mode. The downside? Not much of a sidewall on the tires. And with how bad the streets are in a lot of areas, a pothole can catch you off guard and give you a flat. Which is exactly what happened to me one night.
In a vehicle like the Bentley Continental GT Speed, the bad stuff is minutiae in the grand scheme of things. This car is an experience. From the moment you walk up to it, the GT Speed makes you feel special. And while there are other big-money competitors out there, the Bentley Continental GT Speed’s combination of power and luxury is on a whole ‘nother level.