Full 2009 Bentley Continental GT Speed Review
What's New for 2009
The 2009 Bentley Continental GT Speed receives a handful of new options, including adaptive cruise control, an iPod adapter and a Naim audio system with 13 speakers and two subwoofers. Additionally, a park distance control system is now standard.
The world is full of companies trying to get you to spend more money for "upgrades." From cable packages to fast food, everybody's got something more, and sometimes it seems like the extra cash might not be worth it. The 2009 Bentley Continental GT Speed, however, is a case where spending more is actually worth it. For a mere $25,000 more than the base Continental GT, the Speed boasts much improved handling, a 202-mph top speed and accelerative capabilities that challenge the world's best four-seaters. If you're willing to drop this much money on a coupe, then parting with the extra 25 grand for the Speed should be a no-brainer.
In the world of exotic luxury coupes, attitude and exclusivity are of primary concern. The 2009 Bentley Continental GT Speed has plenty of both. The Speed gains on the already distinctive-looking base GT with uprated 20-inch wheels and a unique darker grille. Inside, the Speed-specific diamond-stitched seating surfaces and available dark-tint aluminum trim conspire with the classic analog instrumentation to create an opulent driving environment. Under the hood, the Continental GT's twin-turbocharged W12 power plant has been massaged for Speed duty, gaining an extra 48 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque that enable the GT Speed to embarrass all but the swiftest sports cars. This upgrade wasn't accomplished by simply turning the turbo boost dial up to 11; rather, all engine internals were re-engineered to reduce mass, including the pistons, connecting rods and even the timing chain.
There's more than just added muscle to the GT Speed as well. The steering was revised to feel noticeably lighter while offering more feedback. This steering tweak, along with standard 20-inch wheels and a revised self-leveling air suspension, results in a Continental that's capable of overcoming the consequences of having so much weight slung over the front axle. The GT Speed is still too large to be considered a canyon carver, but it has a keen ability to thunder down a lightly winding country road with immense confidence.
For those who are prepared to spend a couple hundred grand on a coupe, it's hard to go wrong with a GT Speed. The Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG handles better and matches the GT Speed's acceleration, though it doesn't have that Bentley brand cachet. The fellow Brit Aston Martin DB9 does, however, while also offering stunning styling and a lighter, more tossable body. It lacks the GT Speed's massive power, but for that, Aston counters with the related (and more expensive) DBS coupe. The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti offers an intoxicating Italian soundtrack and a more usable rear seat, but it'll run another $75,000 and likely a couple years on the waiting list. All are immensely capable coupes, but the GT Speed -- upgraded and all -- makes a strong case for itself.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Bentley Continental GT Speed is a premium luxury coupe available in one loaded trim level. Standard equipment includes 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned electronically adjustable air suspension, an exclusive grille, bi-xenon headlamps with washers, an automatically deploying rear spoiler, parking sensors, keyless ignition and entry, a power opening/closing trunk, alloy pedals, a full leather interior with a choice of primary and secondary hides in 17 colors, diamond-stitched seat upholstery, burr walnut trim, multizone automatic climate control with rear-seat controls, 14-way power heated front seats with memory, Bluetooth, a navigation system and a 10-speaker stereo with satellite radio and a glovebox-mounted six-CD changer.
Options include carbon ceramic brakes, adaptive cruise control, upgraded interior veneers, an 1,100-watt 13-speaker Naim sound system with two subwoofers, an iPod input jack, massaging front seats and a rearview camera. There are also a variety of special-order options known as Mulliner Driving Specification that range from dark-tint interior aluminum trim and lamb's-wool carpeting to more exclusive veneers and specialized exterior paint colors.
Powertrains and Performance
Underneath the AWD 2009 Bentley Continental GT Speed's hood is a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged engine with 12 cylinders arranged in the Volkswagen Group's unique W formation. The GT Speed's W12 churns out 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. With the W12 paired to a paddle-shifted six-speed automatic transmission, the GT Speed is capable of reaching 60 mph in a conservatively estimated 4.3 seconds.
The Continental GT Speed comes standard with stability control, antilock brakes and side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2009 Bentley Continental GT Speed's cabin is a standout, even in this rarefied segment. The metal accents, rich wood or aluminum trim and diamond-stitched leather seats will make buyers feel as if they got their money's worth and then some. There's a charming old-world feel to the whole affair, highlighted by push-pull vent controls, a Breitling timepiece and switches and levers constructed of real metal. Unfortunately, the infotainment system is old-world as well -- Bentley hasn't changed it since the GT's 2004 introduction, and it shows in the undersized display screen and nonintuitive interface.
Double-pane side glass blocks wind noise and helps keep the cabin as quiet as a reading room. Interior controls are intuitive enough that most drivers will be able to figure everything out without cracking the owner's manual. There's room for two shorter passengers in back, but only if those in front are in a generous mood; otherwise, the backseat is good for parcels and puppies only. The 13-cubic-foot trunk provides ample cargo space for a car of this type.
The laws of physics were drawn up to prevent things as massive as the 2009 Bentley Continental GT Speed from traveling so quickly. With 600 hp being dropped onto the pavement through all four tires, this 5,200-pound Bentley manages to counteract gravity by accelerating with tremendous thrust. The brakes do a similar job -- just in the opposite direction. That weight and taut chassis make it feel secure when tested on corners, a trait that also owes a debt of gratitude to the car's adjustable and automatic air suspension system. Unlike the regular Continental, the new GT Speed is a much more capable handler, with sharpened steering and better-sorted suspension tuning. The result is a car that feels less nose-heavy, even if it didn't actually lose any weight, and one that's more capable of keeping up with more sporting GT cars.