The Car of Your Dreams
We don’t usually get the chance to review cars that cost as much as a three-bedroom house in many parts of the country. However, when duty calls – in the form of a Bentley Continental GT Speed dropped off in our driveway for evaluation – we’re obligated to take the challenge if nothing else but for the sake of any future mega-lottery winners out there.
For starters, they don’t call what is the top version of Bentley’s plush and capable line of large coupes “Speed” for nothing. That’s because it packs a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 engine (it’s like two V6s joined at the crankshaft) that puts 616 galloping horses and 590 pulse-pounding pound/feet of torque to the pavement.
The W12 enables the car to reach 60 mph in a sudden 4.0 seconds, which we were all too happy to confirm given any open stretch of asphalt during several days of testing an eye-popping St. James Red Continental GT Speed coupe. It also boasts a top speed of 206 mph, which we instead chose to take on faith for the sake of preserving our driving privileges.
A host of performance minded upgrades, including a lowered ride height, a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system and retuned electronically controlled suspension and steering systems give the Continental GT Speed otherworldly handling abilities, particularly when the latter are set in full sport mode. Whether negotiating a sweeping highway on-ramp at full launch speed or darting in and out of tight twisty curves, the car feels much smaller and lighter than its sheer bulk (it tips the scales at just over 5,000 pounds) would otherwise indicate, remaining stable, yet playful, at every turn.
Otherwise, the Continental GT Speed is executed with passion and perfection to afford a level of pure luxury that’s unsullied by an obsession with bells and whistles that tend to define more common high-end models these days.
The car comes wrapped in curvaceous styling that’s a departure from the (Volkswagen owned) British automaker’s more-traditional sedans and assures prime valet parking spots. Two pairs of oval headlamps flank Bentley’s signature mesh grille treatment, reaching up and into muscular front fenders. A long swooping hood with pillarless rear windows extends a long way into a tallish rear-end that features LED taillights. A deployable trunk spoiler slickens the car’s already exemplary aerodynamics at higher speeds.
As with most coupes there may be a dearth of rear seat legroom, but the Continental GT Speed’s handcrafted interior is both opulent and attractive, with diamond quilted perforated leather upholstery, drilled racing-style pedals and a knurled gear selector, which is a work of art onto itself. Our tester included contrast stitching with embroidered Bentley “Flying B” emblems front and rear, carbon fiber trim and leather-covered shift paddles on the steering column. Prominent round aluminum air vents are operated via yacht-like plungers, with an analog clock courtesy of upscale timepiece maker Breitling sitting atop the dash.
For the few and fortunate able to own one, the Bentley Continental GT Speed can be a more accommodating substitute for an Aston-Martin, Maserati or Ferrari among those who might find slipping into a low-slung sports car to be something of a chore.
As such it affords the best of all possible worlds, but one has to pay dearly for the privilege of owning one. At a starting price of $217,000 (not including a stiff $2,725 destination charge), the Speed is some $40,000 costlier than the base V8-powered Continental coupe with “just” 500 horsepower, and $18,400 more than the standard W12 model with 567 horses. While we might not otherwise recommend a vehicular upgrade that would otherwise cover the cost of a new car, this is not a mode of transportation for the budget conscious. The price bump could be considered money well spent for those having the deepest pockets.
We should all be so lucky, right?