Car of the Week - 24 June - Bentley Continental GT Speed

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The Bentley Continental GT Speed is our Car of the Week.

Given the choice (in my dreams) would I choose Rolls-Royce or Bentley? That question was put to me a few weeks ago after I drove the lovely RR Dawn and the answer is that I have never seen these cars as like for like and so, even if I was super-rich, I wouldn’t ever be in a position of having to select one over the other.

Rolls-Royce is all about stately majesty while the Bentley inhabits a far more sporty world, based on a deep rooted racing heritage, which makes it more my kind of car.

Rolls-Royce has impeccable manners while the Bentley doesn’t mind ruffling a few feathers, particularly if it happens to be the new, slightly modified, Continental GT Speed. This is a car that is more than aptly named. To say it does what is says on the tin, or rather finely crafted flanks in the case of this superb machine, is an understatement of huge proportions.

It was built for speed and was the fastest two-door coupe in the Contintental stable when it was unleashed on the world in 2012.

Powered by a monstrous 6.0-litre twin turbo W12 engine, which is basically two V6s stuck together, it became a legend almost overnight and now Bentley have made it even faster.

The GT Speed is a heavyweight in every sense of the word. It weighs in at over two tons and yet now has a 0-100kmh time of 4.1 seconds thanks to that brute of an engine which has also been upgraded with a new management system and a small increase in horsepower which now stands at 633bhp with 840nm of torque.

The increase in performance comes more from a revised boost controller which allows maximum torque between 2000 and 5000 revs than the extra horses.

bentley-continental-GT-speed-steering-wheel

Refinements to the engine, transmission and turbo charger have, according to Bentley, resulted in a 13 per cent improvement in efficiency, which might make drivers of this machine feel a little more worthy, but I doubt it somehow.

Externally the car has been tweaked, rather than redesigned, with a reworked front and rear spoiler giving the GT Speed a sharper and more aggressive look, while the signature matrix grille and air intakes have a dark tint chrome finish with the same effect on the front and rear lamps.

The Speed logo on the flanks also adds a nice touch and the whole appearance is completed by gorgeous 21-inch Speed alloy wheels which are unique to this car.

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The interior has also been revised and now looks much sharper with new instrument cluster dials and graphics and a leather sports steering wheel.

The car has the Mulliner interior specification which has also been slightly changed to provide smaller diamond leather quilting on the seats with colour-coded heavy stitching, which is obviously bespoke, and the Mulliner name embroidered onto the headrests.

You are basically surrounded by finest hand-crafted leathers and our test car had a superb carbon fibre and brushed metal trim, leaving you in no doubt that this is a very special car with an impressive motorsport heritage.

And it is that clearly defined link to its racing past which you can feel when you are driving this machine that makes the GT Speed so appealing.

As you would expect from a car that costs in excess of Dh1million the technology is cutting edge and the infotainment system is excellent. One interesting claim from Bentley is that there is so much storage space for your music – 15 gigabytes – that you could drive around the world without hearing the same track twice.

bentley-continental-GT-speed-sideview
Push the ignition button and that awesome engine awakens with a deep baritone snarl that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and the tickover at idle speed is a gorgeous throaty rumble which wouldn’t be out of place in a top of the range American muscle car.

So this GT Speed has plenty of impressive figures which add up to the ultimate luxury performance car with unrelenting power and the way it handles is just as impressive.

It sits 10mm closer to the ground and the suspension system has been adapted to provide a more sporty, agile drive which it delivers in traditional Bentley style with the authority that only comes with a vehicle that has a top speed of 331kmh, not that you will be able to put that to the test unless you know a long stretch of straight road with no cameras and have the courage to keep you foot in.

The GT Speed has always been my favourite Bentley, although they are now producing a Black edition of the this car which adds even more speed, and this latest generation is amazing although I wonder why the changes are relatively minor when compared with the 2014 predecessor. That only suggests that the next edition is likely to be far more dramatic and if that is the case I can hardly wait.

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