Bentley has unveiled its all-new Continental GT Speed, and is claiming it is the “most capable, performance-focused Bentley ever.”
The Crewe outfit has placed a real emphasis on the way the new car handles compared to its regular Continental sibling, with the chassis engineers throwing the veritable kitchen sink at the GT Speed to ensure it can attack a twisty road in a manner that belies its 2244kg kerb weight.
A suite of chassis technologies aimed at improving the car’s dynamics have been introduced, and Bentley believes the sum of all these new parts is a car that lives up to the name.
There’s a new four-wheel steering system and a recalibrated, quicker steering rack that is said to drastically improve the car’s agility.
At slow and medium speeds, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction to the fronts, effectively shortening the wheelbase and increasing reactiveness.
At high speeds, the rear and front wheels steer in the same direction, improving high-speed stability.
These two features work in conjunction with another of the GT Speed’s new party tricks – an electronic limited-slip rear differential.
This is the first time a Continental has been fitted with an eLSD, and according to Bentley, the differential has “increased lateral capacity, improved longitudinal stability, enhanced on-throttle adjustability and delivers better traction in adverse road conditions.”
The manufacturer also says that in “Sport” mode the GT Speed’s eLSD starts paying dynamic dividends, drastically improving turn-in on corner entry and helping to get the power down on corner exit.
Bentley’s three-chamber active air suspension with adaptive damping makes a return in the GT Speed, as does “Bentley Dynamic Ride”, a technology first introduced on the Bentayga and regular Continental GT.
This 48V active anti-roll control system utilises electric motors located within each anti-roll bar to help to fight against body roll. In its firmest setting, the motors inside the roll bars can produce 1300 Nm of rigidity in 0.3 secs, ensuring the car stays flat and composed when cornering.
A newly calibrated Electronic Stability Control (ESC) System takes advantage of all these new features and depending on the mode, it will allow the driver to extract as much performance as possible from the vehicle while still providing a safety net.
The GT Speed isn’t just about handling though, Bentley has also turned up the wick of the car’s thumping 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12, which now produces 485kW and 900Nm (18kW more than then regular Continental GT).
This gargantuan power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission that shifts gears twice as quickly as the regular Continental GT, which uses the same gearbox.
And depending on the mode, the colossal grunt from the motor can be deployed differently across the front and rear axle.
In Comfort mode, power is distributed evenly across the axles, with an emphasis placed on grip and stability, while in Sport mode, kilowatts are sent rearwards, which could make for a whole lot of fun.
Bentley claims the culmination of this stonking power, AWD grip and fast-shifting gearbox is a set of performances figures that sound more akin to something red from Maranello.
0-100km/h is taken care of in just 3.5 seconds, and if you can find a stretch of road long enough, the GT bruiser will continue charging on to a top speed of 335km/h.
The engineers haven’t forgotten about stopping either, and to help reign in some potentially mega speeding fines, the GT Speed scores a set of massive carbon-ceramic brakes, with whopping 10-piston callipers up front and four-piston callipers at the rear.
Wrapping around the huge brakes is a set of bespoke 22-inch “Speed” wheels finished in bright silver. However, the option of a dark tint or black gloss finish is also available.
Inside, the interior of the GT Speed is exactly what you’d expect of a Bentley – endlessly opulent and eminently customisable.
The press photos show a car with gorgeous red and black leather and Alcantara seats, carbon and piano black accents, and an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel.
However, we’re almost certain the interior and exterior specification of just about every GT Speed ordered will be different from the next.
Local pricing and availability for the Bentley Continental GT Speed are yet to be announced, and there’s no word on when the rapid GT will be landing on Aussie shores.
But with the car expected to be going on sale in Europe in Q3 of this year, we reckon a local launch before the end of the year is possible.