Adding the Speed suffix to the second-generation Bentley Continental GT pumps up top speed by 12km/h over the regular W12-powered Conti GT. With a 330km/h vmax, the Speed is the fastest car Bentley has ever made.
On semi-busy autobahns near Munich on the international launch of the Speed, the big Bentley easily and often powered past 300km/h. At 300km/h you’re covering 81 metres every second. Think about that next time you’re on a footy field. At that pace the Speed remained rock solid, even thundering through sweepers with the speedo needle wrapped past 300. Not only that, but the Speed remained quiet enough to hold a conversation with a back seat PR passenger – though she went strangely silent when we began overtaking cars with a 180km/h differential in velocity.
The Speed is powered by a 460kW/800Nm version of the 6.0-litre W12 fitted to the regular Conti GT. That power figure (produced at 6000rpm) is up 37kW over the normal model and matches that of the McLaren MP4-12C supercar. Oddly, given the power and performance hike, the Speed’s W12 is 12 percent more efficient than the regular Conti GT with a combined cycle consumption figure of 14.5L/100km.
At 1000rpm, the Speed’s twin-turbo W12 makes 500Nm. Double the revs to 2000rpm and it’s making 800Nm, which it holds to 4000rpm. That wall of torque is what propels the 2320kg Speed to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds and 160km/h in nine flat. But it’s the crushing acceleration from 150-250km/h that needs to be experienced to be believed. Acceleration does eventually tail off above 300km/h but only the very fastest supercars keep charging towards the horizon at this pace.
If you need to scrub off big speed, as we did a few times on the autobahn, the optional carbon brakes (420mm front/356mm rear) with huge eight-piston front calipers bite 300km/h in half in only a few seconds.
When you’re not trying to verify the vmax boast, the Speed is every bit as luxurious and comfortable as the regular Conti GT. The ride quality on the standard 21-inch alloys and 275/35 Pirelli P Zero rubber would shame many less focused cars. The Speed rides 10mm lower on massively stiffer springs (45 percent firmer front, 33 percent rear) and yet these changes don’t compromise the drive experience.
In cruise mode, the 8-speed ZF auto shifts are barely perceptible. Plonk the knurled gear selector back into Sport, and the gearbox grabs ratios in less than 100m/s. The only complaint about Sport mode is that it’s too keen to hang onto a shorter gear after you’ve backed off the throttle.
But as far as complaints go, that’s about it. The Continental GT Speed is an everyday supercar and one of the finest cars a lot of money will buy. When the Speed goes on sale in March 2013 it’ll wear a starting price of $450,000, 10 percent more than the regular W12 Continental GT. Bentley expects to sell between 20-30 Speeds annually in Australia.
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