Bentley's Continental GT Speed is a more aggressive grand tourer

Published: 14 April 2021

► Bentley's GT gains all-out Speed variant
► Speed has 650bhp, rear-steer and e-LSD
► Plus, more details on the Continental GT

Bentley has unleashed the latest Speed version of its Continental GT in both coupe and convertible format. While not the most powerful production car Bentley has ever made, the new GT Speed adds some extra dynamism to the mix for the buyer who wants it all.

Yes, along with a power upgrade and discreet visual changes, there’s more under the skin.

It’s definitely a subtle change outside…

This isn’t a Supersports, remember – Bentley has to balance between outwardly aggressive looks and changing things enough to get you hooked. So, along with badging, the Speed has new carbonfibre door sills, unique 22-inch wheels and dark-coloured accents. The convertible's roof comes in seven colours and there's even a tweed fabric available.

gt speed interior convertible

Inside, the cockpit has been hit hard with the alcantara stick – the suede-like material can be upholstered on the steering wheel and seats. Bentley’s vast customisation options give you a choice of 15 main and 11 secondary leathers for the upholstery, too, and the Speed can be trimmed in a new diamond-patterned aluminium veneer. As for the convertible, the seats have integrated neck-warmers.

Well? Give me the performance specs!

It’s the 6.0-litre W12, turned up to 650bhp and 664lb ft, good for a 3.5sec 0-62mph sprint for the coupe and a 3.6sec sprint in the convertible. Both models can achieve a 208mph top speed. All very impressive numbers, but the power increase isn’t the only upgrade.

gt speed rear

The Speed has rear-wheel steering, for example, allowing for more manoeuvrability at low speeds and stability at high speeds. The punchier Conti also has an electronic limited-slip differential for the rear wheels, allowing for more adjustability mid-corner, and exiting them with as much traction as possible. Or, if you want, you can turn the stability aids off and get drifty. Carbon silicon carbide brakes are introduced with the Speed, too, with 10-piston front calipers and four-piston rears.

gt speed convertible tracking

When and how much?

Prices aren’t exactly known yet, but Bentley boss Adrian Hallmark told us that the new Speed ‘will be launched in the third quarter of 2021 in Europe and the US, then the rest of the world in the fourth quarter.’ He also said to expect the price tag to be ‘around 20% higher than the current 12-cylinder Continental.’

Read more on the Continental GT below.

Bentley Continental GT: what you need to know

Bentley’s new GT is faster, sleeker and now jam-packed with tech, as we saw at its world premiere in the metal at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show.

This new Conti looks familiar…

Quite. The new shape is a heady blend of its predecessor’s creases and fresh cues from the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept we saw in Geneva back in 2015.

The headlights and huge mesh grill are a mix of Bentayga and the aforementioned EXP concept, but the swooping front sills in the bumper look very much like the previous-generation Continental it replaces. The rear features simple oval rear lights and rifled oval exhausts.

Bentley Continental GT 2018 rear tracking

The aluminium body has been shaped using a process that heats the metal to 500 degrees Celsius to deliver sharper creases, and enjoys a weight saving of 80kg compared to the previous model.

The altered proportions come from the Conti's new Porsche Panamera-derived chassis. There's a lowered nose, the front wheels have been moved 135mm further forward and the engine has been pushed back to improve weight distribution.

So it still looks like Blenheim Palace on wheels... next!

Hold on a minute: Bentley promises more detailed changes under the skin.

The new Conti GT features Bentley Dynamic Ride, which uses a 48-volt electrical system to help keep body roll and ride comfort in check.  There are also different drive modes depending on whether you’re wafting down to Monaco for the weekend or taking a hair-raising detour through the Alps.

Bentley Continental GT 2018 headlight

Air suspension is standard, too, while a raft of safety tech means the Conti GT is up to date with the rest of its big grand touring rivals. 

Still absurdly fast?

Oh, absolutely. The refreshed 6.0-litre W12, which is coupled to an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox and all-wheel drive, launches the big Bentley to 62mph in 3.7 seconds, and on to a top speed of 207mph.

There’s even a launch control function if Jeeves wants to take on some rapscallion in an M4 CS and come out on top in a blaze of pomp and circumstance.

Bentley Continental GT 2018 front end tracking

On the flipside, the W12 has cylinder deactivation tech to ensure that you only have the unpleasantness of visiting a fuel station once every 200 miles instead of once every 150.

What about the interior?

The biggest news is the revision of the dashboard, which includes an all-new 12.3-inch touchscreen that revolves from behind a panel of wood veneer, and a digital instrument cluster set.

Bentley Continental GT 2018 interior

Like a fine suit, the Conti’s interior can be tailored to your exacting specifications and uses quilted leather, whacking great panels of wood veneer and metal switchgear by the tonne.

Bentley is keen to point out the ‘diamond-in-diamond’ quilting pattern, which took 18 months to perfect, and that some of the knurled switches have a new pattern ‘for a softer, more refined feel.’

Bentley Continental GT 2018 infotainment

If you’re not in the mood to hear the W12 sing, an ear-destroying 2200W Naim audio system is available, which comes with ‘Active Bass Transducers’ built into the front seats.

Check out our Bentley reviews here

Bentley has introduced two new versions of the Continental GT, and both feature an on-trend downsize engine. Instead of the 6.0-litre W12 lump we’re used to seeing under the bonnet, Bentley’s flagship will also be offered with a 542bhp, twin-turbocharged, 4.0-litre V8. Which isn’t that small at all, is it? It’ll come in cabriolet and coupe flavours. 

Alongside a slightly different – and arguably better soundtrack  – through its quad-pipe exhausts, expect 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds, a top-speed of 198mph and 568lb ft of torque. It’s still a stately home with physics-bending reserves of power, then.

Bentley says the new V8 model will also ride on massive 20-inch, 10-spoke rims – although there’ll be a further nine choices, stretching up to 22-inches in diameter.

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches