What's New for 2010
The 2010 Bentley Continental GT Speed remains unchanged, except for the addition of some color and styling choices as part of the new Series 51 option.
Time is money, and for the super wealthy, this adage could take on even more significance. However, in the case of the 2010 Bentley Continental GT Speed, the price may be too far outside the realm of reason. Compared to the base Continental GT, the Speed model's added horsepower only results in a 0.4-second improvement in 0-60-mph acceleration and a top speed that is only 4 mph higher. Handling is greatly improved, but quite frankly, the $25,000 premium is a hard pill to swallow.
When you also take into consideration that the Continental GT Speed's appearance is nearly identical to the regular GT, its appeal takes yet another hit. The base shape has been around since 2003 and is looking a bit dated when compared to some of the hotter ultraluxury coupes from Europe. This year sees only a minor addition, the Series 51 option package that adds only cosmetic changes.
True enough, the GT Speed is an excellent grand touring car at its core. It produces far more power than most drivers will ever need, and the luxurious cabin isolates occupants from the outside world's harshness. However, when compared to newer ultraluxury coupes, the Continental GT Speed's appeal wanes. Models like the Aston Martin DB9 and Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG look sharper and deliver similar, if not better, all-around performance. On its own merits, the Continental GT Speed will still impress those with discerning tastes. But we're starting to look forward to what kind of a comeback might be in store for the next full redesign.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Bentley Continental GT Speed is a premium luxury coupe offered in a single, well-appointed trim level. Standard equipment includes painted 20-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned electronically adjustable air suspension, an exclusive grille, bi-xenon headlamps with washers, an automatically deploying rear spoiler, rain-sensing wipers, power door latches, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition and entry and a power-opening/-closing trunk.
The list of standard features gets even longer with cabin treatments that include a full leather interior with a choice of primary and secondary hides in 17 colors, diamond-stitched seat upholstery, burl walnut trim, multizone automatic climate control with rear-seat controls, 14-way power heated front seats, memory functions, Bluetooth, alloy pedals, 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, a 1,100-watt 13-speaker Naim sound system with two subwoofers, an iPod input jack, massaging front seats, upgraded interior veneers and a rearview camera. There are also a variety of special-order options known as Mulliner Driving Specification that range from more exclusive veneers and lamb's-wool carpeting to diamond-quilted seating surfaces and specialized exterior paint colors.
New for 2010 is the Series 51 option of preselected interior treatments. This add-on takes its name from the year 1951, when the first official Bentley styling department was established. This package adds exterior "51" badging, 20-inch polished wheels and special cabin treatment. The latter includes three-tone color schemes, unique upholstery with contrasting piping/stitching and exclusive wood veneers.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the Bentley Continental GT Speed is a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged engine with 12 cylinders arranged in the Volkswagen Group's unique W formation. This W12 power plant produces an impressive 600 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. Even more noteworthy is that all of this torque is on tap at just 1,700 rpm. A six-speed automatic with steering-column-mounted paddle shifters is the only transmission available, and it sends power to all four wheels.
Despite its hefty 5,180-pound curb weight, the Continental GT Speed is claimed to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. Top speed is reported at 202 mph. As expected, fuel economy is decidedly low, registering an EPA-estimated 10 mpg city/17 highway and 13 combined.
The 2010 Bentley Continental GT Speed comes standard with stability control, antilock brakes and side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers.
Interior Design and Special Features
Much like the exterior, some parts of the Continental GT Speed's interior are beginning to show their age. A need for a refresh is most evident in the electronic display screen, which is small by more contemporary standards, as well as the non-intuitive controls. The GT's overall interior design manages to stay fresh, though, while materials and craftsmanship are beyond reproach. Metal accents, rich wood veneers, supple leather surfaces and near flawless stitching are timeless Bentley hallmarks.
Wind and road noise is reduced to near silence thanks to plenty of sound insulation and double-paned side glass. Front seat comfort is excellent, befitting a car of this stature and price, but rear seat passengers will find their quarters much less accommodating. Rear headroom is limited, as is legroom. The trunk's 13-cubic-foot capacity is respectable for this class of car, though owners are still likely going to use the rear seats for cargo overflow.
One advantage the 2010 Bentley Continental GT Speed has over the regular GT is its revised suspension tuning, which results in sharper handling. The additional 48 hp doesn't hurt either, but the gains in acceleration are much less significant. The suspension's sport tuning allows the GT Speed to at least keep up with other European competitors, and its livelier steering adds a bit more confidence and feedback. The Speed is still hampered by a nose-heavy feel and a massive curb weight, though. Well-heeled drivers looking for greater performance may want to consider upgrading to the Supersports model.