Bentley has unviled the performance-version of the Continental, the GT Speed. The new flagship Bentley Continental GT Speed will have a 330kph top speed, the highest ever for a production model from Crewe, UK.
The coupé’s sledgehammer performance betters that of Bentley’s Continental Supersports which is based on the previous generation Continental and will pitch it head to head with the new Aston Martin Vanquish.
At the heart of the latest Speed is a significantly more powerful 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 engine, with peak output hiked to 616bhp.
As a result, top speed is lifted 5kph above its predecessor’s 325kph, and its 0-100kph time is cut to 4.0sec from 4.3sec.
In line with the higher performance, Bentley has stiffened the chassis and uprated some hardware in the air-sprung suspension. The result, according to Bentley, is a sportier and more engaging drive, with tauter handling
and improved agility.
“The new GT Speed, with its harder-edged, sportier character, reaffirms the pinnacle positioning of the Continental and broadens its appeal,” says company boss Wolfgang Dürheimer. Bentley maintains, however, that the Speed retains its refined, high-speed cross-country GT abilities.
The ride height is lowered and steering retuned to give better driver feedback. Grip is enhanced by 275/35R Pirelli PZero rubber mounted on standard 21-inch wheels.
New to the Speed is ZF’s more efficient eight-speed automatic gearbox. This is also fitted as standard on the new V8, but the lower-powered Continental GT W12 makes do — for the time being at least — with the old six-speed ZF unit.
Because the ratios are closer together than in the six-speed transmission, the new ZF is also said to improve in-gear acceleration times. As on all Continental models, drive goes to all four wheels through a Torsen centre differential that biases drive in favour of the rear axle.
Bentley hasn’t released a kerb weight for the Speed yet, although Autocar understands that it is close to the current Continental GT W12’s. The previous-generation Speed was about 35kg lighter than the standard W12.
As might be expected, styling changes are subtle and focus on new, dark-tinted mesh for the main grille and lower air intake, and a ‘rifled’ finish for the dual exhaust tailpipes. Bentley has upgraded the Speed’s interior to take the top-level Mulliner Driving specification of leather and trim as standard.
The hottest version of Bentley’s new Continental coupé will be revealed at next week’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, where three of the marque’s favourite drivers — Juha Kankkunen, Derek Bell and Guy Smith — will perform demonstration runs.
Issue: 166 | June 2013
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