There is no denying that Bentleys are some of the finest cars that money can buy (if you’re loaded enough to afford one). They are fast, comfortable, luxurious—you name it. But the qualities that make them well-built automobiles also become drawbacks when it comes to tackling mountain roads. Simply put, you don’t drive a porky Bentley if you want to have the same thrill as a featherweight Mazda MX-5, for example. But the crew at, uh, Crewe thinks that it now has a car that can be just as fun in the corners as it is on expressways.
It’s called the Continental GT Speed. On the face of it, it’s not exactly compact like a proper sports car should be. The fact that Bentley proudly mentioned the four seats and the 358L of trunk space means that the automaker envisions the driver to share the fun with three of his or her friends. And that fun starts with the clever all-wheel steering system. At low to medium speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front to reduce understeer by helping the car’s nose quickly change direction. At high speeds, the rear axle is steered in the same orientation that increases stability especially on wet tarmac.
The Continental GT Speed’s air suspension is fitted with adaptive shock absorbers and a clever motorized anti-roll system called Bentley Dynamic Ride. Each sway bar has built-in electric motors, which can instantaneously provide up to 1,300Nm of torque to counteract any form of excessive body roll, which then improves cornering stability. Also helping out is the electronic limited-slip rear differential that allows the GT Speed to rocket out of bends with greater grip.
All this technology is important as the 650hp twin-turbo W12 engine is quite a heavy powerplant for something that needs to handle better. The front suspension has to carry the burden of steering a car that’s really designed to eat up the miles in long, straight stretches of road. That weighty motor is probably the reason why peeking behind the GT Speed’s 22-inch wheels are 10-piston front and four-piston rear brakes with optional carbon silicon-carbide discs.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper Bentley without the highly configurable interior. Customers who don’t like the Alcantara accents on the steering wheel can opt for leather instead. And speaking of hides, there is a staggering selection of 15 colors for the main trim and 11 hues for the secondary trim. The center console can apparently be coated in what the automaker calls “new dark tint engine turned aluminum.” We don’t know what that means. What is clear is that quilted seats and embroidered headrests are standard equipment.
We’re not quite sure how the Continental GT Speed’s technical improvements will work in practice. After all, the standard car already has a curb weight of 2,244kg, and it can be assumed that this faster one isn’t substantially lighter (if not the same). Perhaps, everything is relative in the world of Bentley. And it’s probably enough that the GT Speed will handle better than anything in the automaker’s stable.