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
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

    Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

    £120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

    Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

    £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

    £24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

    Recruitment Genius: Magento Front End Web Developer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore