Motoring review: Bentley Continental GT Speed is faster than your average Beluga whale

 

Price: £151,000
Engine capacity: 6.0-litre, twin turbo-charged W12
Power Output (BHP @ rpm): 616 @ 6,000
Top Speed (mph): 205
0-60 mph (seconds): 4
Fuel economy (mph): 19.5
CO2 emissions (g/km):
338

How fast is fast enough? If you are Bentley the answer to that question is 205mph exactly. That's the top speed of the Crewe-based firm's new Continental GT Speed. It's a staggering turn of pace for a road-going car, even one as luxurious as this continent-crossing grand tourer. The technical challenges alone are mind boggling, before you begin to start to think about where this sort of straight-line speed is actually achievable.

The aerodynamic stresses are incredible. I'm told that at 205mph the side windows are sucked out with such force that the A pillar has had to be reinforced and Bentley had to design special seals to keep the glass in place. Meanwhile at that speed the car is swallowing up somewhere near 4,000 litres of air a second so the firm's engineers have had to incorporate all kinds of chassis and down-force black magic to keep it on the road. This is before you start to think about the uprated suspension springs Bentley has had to fit or the vice-like brakes required to stop it.

There's something even more amazing about all of this though; the GT Speed is still a properly civilised car to drive and spend time in. Its 616bhp engine – up from 576bhp in the standard Continental – is monstrous but it hasn't ruined the car. Don't get me wrong: the GT Speed is still a total weapon and only my caution and its four-wheel drive system keep me planted on my icy test route through the New Forest, but it's still a seriously luxurious and refined four-seater.

Unlike many 2+2 coupés, two adults can actually survive in the back and with a supple suspension and peerless noise suppression its touring manners are terrific. Inside the only letdown on my test model is the beluga hide, which hints at Bentley's bling footballer clientele. I worry I've become complicit in the slaughter of a rare arctic whale, but thankfully it's just named after the caviar, so I'm only guilty of awful taste.

There is one major issue that arises from all the power under the GT Speed's bonnet, though. When you are pressing on with your foot down into a corner there's so much puffed-up air in the engine's intake system that when you take your foot of the accelerator, that air has still got to work its way through the engine. There's a second delay when you take your foot off the throttle and the car continues to surge forward. You soon get used to it, though, and what else do you expect from the fastest Bentley ever made?

Never mind that you can only use a third of the GT Speed's power legally on the road, the Continental is the car that saved Bentley when it was launched 10 years ago and more than 42,000 have been sold since then. The new Speed GT is the apogee of the company's revival and in sport mode – with its throaty roar and pops and crackles on the overrun – it is a wondrous thing. There's just one problem. You could opt for the smaller-engined V8 version from the Bentley stable. It still produces 500bhp and will hit 180mph. In what world do we live when this isn't fast enough? Perhaps I'm missing the point: if you are spending £150,000 plus on a motor you probably want it to be something you can brag about in the pub (or the Michelin-star restaurants pre-programmed into the Bentley's satnav). And the fastest ever Bentley gets some bragging rights. Did I mention it does 205mph?

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are