Full 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Review
What's New for 2013
The Speed version of the 2013 Bentley Continental GT debuts. It has a higher-output version of the GT's 12-cylinder engine complemented by an eight-speed transmission.
Twelve-cylinder loyalists rejoice. The Continental's new V8 might be the more logical choice given its similar acceleration and better fuel economy, but sometimes only the "most" will do. For 2013, the "Speed" version of the Continental GT has arrived with an even more potent version of the car's W12 engine. The GT Speed boasts 616 horsepower, a rise of 49 hp compared to the regular GT with the W12 engine. To aid in that endeavor, Bentley has also given the car a new eight-speed transmission (rather than the six-speed in the standard 2013 Continental GT) plus revised suspension tuning and 21-inch wheels.
The expected levels of opulence and craftsmanship remain blissfully intact, from the GT's elegant design to its impeccable materials. The Continental is also one of the few exotic cars in this category that offers all-wheel drive. Unfortunately, most of the drawbacks associated with the regular Continental GT -- minuscule rear seats and astronomical option prices -- stay put as well.
In comparison to the GT Speed, the 2013 Aston Martin DB9 can't keep up in a drag race but it is a much more nimble-feeling car to drive. A 2013 Maserati GranTurismo still turns heads with its seductive styling, and its rear seat is a little roomier. Finally, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG matches the GT Speed's power, though it doesn't feel as exclusive as the Bentley. In the end, shopping for an exotic grand touring car like this can come down to emotion more than regular car-buying logic. And getting to happily claim you have a 616-hp Bentley in your garage seems mighty OK by us.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed comes standard with 21-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive air suspension, keyless ignition/entry, automatic xenon headlights, heated and power-folding mirrors, a power trunk lid, front and rear parking sensors, quilted and perforated seating, heated and power front seats (14-way driver and 12-way passenger), front seat memory functions, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and dual-zone automatic climate control. The standard eight-speaker audio system includes a CD player, satellite radio, an iPod interface, Bluetooth and voice-controlled features. A navigation system is also included.
An optional Convenience package adds adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera and valet key (also available individually). The Le Mans Specification package is offered with bespoke 21-inch wheels and "Le Mans" Edition plaque, clock face, headrest embroidery, exterior badging and sill plates. To that, contrasting stitching to seats, doors and steering wheel may be added at an additional charge.
Stand-alone options include a six-CD changer, an ultra-premium Naim audio system (includes CD changer), integrated garage door opener, ventilated and massaging front seats, a heated steering wheel and carbon-ceramic disc brakes.
And, as with all Bentleys, buyers can choose from a dizzying array of exterior and interior colors, wheels, embroidery, stitching, piping and wood or metallic trim. The truly discerning buyer can also specify customized "Personal Commission" items -- for a price, of course.
Powertrains and Performance
For 2013, the Bentley Continental GT Speed is equipped with an upgraded version of the standard twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine. It generates 616 hp and 590 pound-feet of torque. At our test track, the GT Speed accelerated from zero to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. The EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 14 mpg combined (12 city/19 highway).
The 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed comes standard with stability control, traction control, antilock brakes, side airbags for all seats and a driver knee airbag. In Edmunds brake testing, a GT Speed (with optional carbon-ceramic brakes) came to a stop from 60 mph in 116 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
As with any Bentley, the Continental GT Speed's cabin features only the finest available materials. From supple leather that covers most surfaces to the rich wood veneers crafted in Bentley's dedicated hand-crafted woodworking shop, and available carbon fiber, the interior pays homage to old-world craftsmanship that truly defines "world class."
High-tech convenience contrasts with old-world charm, however, keeping the Continental GT competitive with its contemporaries. The infotainment touchscreen interface is clear and its operation intuitive, and the instrument panel features a sharp digital display flanked by legible analog gauges. That said, some of the buttons and switches aren't as clear or easy to use as some competitors. The Speed's shift paddles seem an afterthought, and the controls on the steering wheel are awkward to use.
Front seat comfort is excellent, but rear-seat adult passengers are still right to criticize, as space is still quite tight. We guess these rear quarters will more often carry the overflow from the 13-cubic-foot trunk than passengers, though.
If you're looking for an exquisitely crafted grand touring automobile for your daily drive or weekend road trips, the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed is for you. Its superior visibility, tomblike silence, buttoned-down ride and composed handling make driving incongruously effortless and involving. The Speed's ride quality could be seen as a little too firm depending on your priorities, however, as the 21-inch wheels and tires can bang off big pavement irregularities, and the stiff suspension can get jittery.
The star of the show, however, is truly the turbocharged W12. With 590 lb-ft of torque available almost immediately, stomping the gas pedal will result in awe-inducing acceleration. A torrent of propulsion is available anywhere in the rev range, and it pushes the car to extralegal speeds with ease. Through turns, the GT Speed is capable enough, but the car's uncommunicative steering and hefty, front-end biased weight are always there to remind you that this isn't a sports car.