2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Review

By: Jesse Taylor

Bentley Continental GT Speed Bentley Continental GT Speed Bentley Continental GT Speed
Bentley Continental GT Speed Bentley Continental GT Speed Bentley Continental GT Speed
Bentley Continental GT Speed Bentley Continental GT Speed Bentley Continental GT Speed

More powerful 'Ultra' Continental GT is Crewe's fastest ever

2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Review
Bentley Continental GT Speed


Bentley Continental GT Speed 

In 40-degree heat, at its 330km/h v-max, the second-generation Bentley Continental GT Speed requires 4000 litres of air to be crammed through its grille every second to keep its 460kW/800Nm twin-turbo W12 engine from overheating. Bentley knows this because one of the durability sign-off tests for the new model was to run at v-max around Italy's Nardo speed bowl in stinking heat. For an hour.

Little wonder then, that the single-figure  temps encountered on the Speed's international launch in Munich posed no problems for Bentley's fastest-ever car. Traffic on the unrestricted autobahns was the biggest factor in keeping our pace down but we did wind the speedo needle well beyond 300 on a couple of occasions. At that searing pace, the Speed, which makes eight percent more downforce than the regular Conti GT, was stable and fuss free.

With 460kW at 6000rpm, the Speed produces 37kW more power than the normal W12-powered Conti GT, and matches the power output of the MY2013 McLaren MP4-12C supercar. The mighty engine makes 500Nm at 1000rpm and maximum torque (800Nm) plateaus from 2000-4000rpm. The 330km/h top speed is 12km/h up on the regular car.

The Speed is fitted with an eight-speed ZF automatic which is now being rolled out across the rest of the Continental range, replacing the six-speeder. The transmission features a skip-shift function (dubbed Block Shift), which allows you to jump right from top gear to third without rifling through each ratio. Our only criticism of the 'box, and one of very few levelled at the car in general, is that in Sport mode, the software holds onto shorter gears too long after the throttle has been lifted. Left in normal mode, there are no such issues.

Sitting 10mm lower than the regular Conti GT with significantly firmer springs (45 percent front, 33 percent rear), the Speed hides its 2320kg mass when the road gets twisty. There's a fraction more steering feel than before and endless grip from the 275/35ZR21 Pirelli P-Zero tyres.

Though the focus is on speed, this new flagship Continental model doesn't compromise the everyday usability of the big coupe. Despite firmer suspension, the Speed is no teeth-rattler and the ride
shames many less-focused luxury cars. It's easy to drive at normal speeds - the optional carbon ceramic brakes (420mm front/356mm rear) provide consistent feel and refuse to squeal, regardless of whether they are cold - and the cabin is gorgeous.

The first-gen Speed was a global success, averaging 50 percent of all Continental sales in its four full years on sale. Given how accomplished the second-generation model is, you'd expect similar success for the new car. Bentley predicts local sales of between 20-30 cars annually after the Speed hits showrooms next March at $450,000.



2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed


Engine: 5998cc W12, DOHC, 48v, twin turbochargers

Power: 460kW @ 6000rpm

Torque: 800Nm @ 2000-4000rpm

Gearbox: 8-speed automatic

0-100 km/h: 4.2sec (claimed)

Top speed: 330km/h (claimed)

Price: $450,000


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