2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith vs. 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Le Mans Edition

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests
  • Comparison (1)
  • Long-Term

2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Coupe

(6.0L W12 Twin-turbo AWD 8-speed Automatic)
  • 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith

    2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith

    2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith vs. 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed. | December 29, 2013

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Which Is the Best of the Best?

  • Comparison Test
  • 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith Specs and Performance
  • 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Specs and Performance

An executive at Bentley once told us that the company's cars have no vehicular competitors. He said that when the time came for a customer to purchase a new Bentley, they weren't cross-shopping cars, but were debating over the car, a boat or some very expensive jewelry. Or maybe all of the above.

So when Rolls-Royce debuted the all-new, two-door, drive-it-yourself Wraith, Bentley probably didn't flinch. After all, the Bentley Continental GT has so thoroughly ingrained itself in the ultra-luxury consciousness that this upstart coupe from Goodwood seemed little more than another bauble to temporarily distract future Bentley Boys.

But should Bentley flinch at the 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith? It's impossible to tell on paper, so we gathered the most powerful Rolls-Royce ever for a back-to-back drive against the most powerful two-door Bentley makes, the Continental GT Speed.

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith vs 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed

Two Cars for $620,970
For $620,970 you could buy an entire neighborhood in Terre Haute, Indiana; a broom closet in Manhattan; or these two luxury cars. We'd suggest the cars.

The 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed is based around a simply wicked twin-turbo W12 that displaces 6.0 liters and dumps 616 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels. Compared to the standard GT, the GT Speed's also got stiffer springs, adjustable suspension dampers, big sticky tires hugging 21-inch wheels, a 205-mph top speed and a ZF-built eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

The inside of this Le Mans Edition is swathed in dark, quilted red leather contrasted by inky black carbon fiber. It feels like the world's fastest bordello.

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith vs 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed

The all-new Wraith is less familiar. Calling the 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith a two-door version of the company's Ghost sedan is like calling Justin Timberlake a slightly taller Justin Bieber; their missions are similar, but the approach and execution are worlds apart.

The Wraith does share some ties with the Ghost. Both cars share the BMW 7 Series-derived chassis, though the Wraith is nearly 6 inches shorter with a 7.7-inch-shorter wheelbase.

The Ghost and Wraith also share the twin-turbo 6.6-liter V12 power plant. In the Wraith, however, the motor twists the rear tires with an absolutely stupid 624 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque via an eight-speed automatic with GPS capabilities.

And that's just the boring tech stuff that 99 percent of Wraith owners don't care about. The interior of the Wraith is where the real magic happens and is one of the most spectacular structures we've ever entered, knocking St. Peter's Basilica down a spot. The headliner is awash in more than 1,000 twinkling fiber-optic lights that mimic a starry night. The leather on the seats is so buttery and soft it could only come from tiny baby cows raised for veal. The self-closing suicide doors hold the largest single piece of wood in any automobile — a trick that had our carpentry-nerd friends in an absolute tizzy.

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith vs 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed

A Rolls-Royce for Driving
If it's been said once, it's been said a million times: Bentleys are for driving, Rolls-Royces are for being driven in. The Wraith changes that.

Approach a corner in the Wraith the way you would in a sports car and you'll be faced with considerable understeer and intrusive stability control, reminding you of each and every one of the Wraith's 5,381 pounds. Better to treat each corner as you would in a big, classic American coupe: Turn in early and far more than you'd expect, wait for the suspension to set and then power through hard on the throttle. In fact, patience is central to all aspects of wheeling the Roller and one of its more endearing traits.

Please don't confuse this behavior with anything resembling slop. The Wraith doesn't buoy, pitch or bounce over bumps — ever. If you owned one, you'd never vote for a dime of street repairs, as you simply wouldn't notice the asphalt wasn't diamond smooth. What you do notice is the intentional and well-mannered management of mass to enhance the driving experience. Turn left and the body sinks right. Stand on the throttle and the expanse of hood rises in challenge to the beckoning horizon. Sink the brake into the ultra-plush lambswool carpeting (disclaimer: We drove barefoot a LOT) and the Wraith dives forward as it comes to a stop in only 109 feet from 60 mph. That, friends, is control.

Good thing, too, as the Wraith hits 60 in 4.7 seconds (4.4 with 1 foot of rollout as on a drag strip) and clicks through the quarter-mile in 12.7 seconds at 113.2 mph.

But as much as we love the suspension, steering and motor in the real world, we dislike the gimmicky satellite-aided transmission. As you'd expect from a Rolls-Royce, there are no manual transmission controls. Not a problem, says Rolls, as the new transmission talks to the navigation unit to determine the type of road you're on and the type of driving you're doing. It works about as well as you'd expect a system that can't take elevation into account to work and frankly just feels like a normal, confused automatic whenever pushed. Rolls should skip this and just hire the guy who tuned the 2014 Mazda 3's Sport mode.

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith vs 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed

A Seasoned Sports Car
In the same moment that the Rolls driver is waiting for his boat to take a set, the guy in the Continental GT Speed has scrubbed 40 mph off his speed, flicked the car into Manual mode, dropped three gears via the paddle shifter and is already engaging that W12 for a corner exit that will blur the landscape.

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith vs 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed

If the Wraith's defining characteristic is deliberate body motions, the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed's is the echoing screams of enjoyment and terror bouncing around the interior.

This Continental is simply a different level of fast. From a dead stop, the 616-hp W12 digs holes in the pavement as it scrambles to a 4.1-second (3.9 seconds with rollout) sprint to 60 and then flips off the quarter-mile mark in 12.3 seconds at 113.1 mph. Holding the throttle to the floor on a closed course with ample runoff area is easy. With 5,173 pounds of mass and all-wheel drive, it's about as stable as a 747 at takeoff. Trying to use that in the real world is totally different.

Pin it on any road with a corner and you're in too deep before you can remember you have the world's largest carbon-ceramic disc brakes (16.5 inches) up front to save your bacon. Unfortunately, the W12 provides 190 percent of the power you need and approximately zero engine braking. Couple that with extreme mass and extreme speed and you've got a recipe for a car that can drive like a lead-tipped arrow. Mass management and precise power delivery are paramount. The quick-compared-to-the-Rolls steering and the dead-flat suspension lull you into thinking the Bentley is a racecar only to be reminded constantly exactly how heavy and how far forward that W12 really is.

This Bentley wasn't made for tight corners. Get it onto a road/track with sweeping, steady-state bends and the outright grip and blinding speed is frightening. Though, like a much quieter Nissan GT-R, the Bentley has limits so high that it's almost boring when driven at anything resembling a normal speed.

2nd Place: 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith vs 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed

Until recently, the most significant bomb that could be lobbed against the 12-cylinder Bentley Continental GT was that it was little more than a gussied-up Audi, its corporate sibling. Now, however, even Audi has equally expensive, fast and luxurious cars like the RS 7. It's everything you want a Bentley to be, just without the attention.

For those who want the attention, there's a lovely V8-powered Continental in the lineup that will not only save you money (irrelevant at this level), but provides better driving dynamics. We simply can't forgive the W12's off-throttle rev-hanging and nose-heavy demeanor. Not when the V8 doesn't do it. Not when the V8 is only a few tenths slower. Not when the V8 sounds like a demon, while the W12 moans like a vacuum trying to inhale the corner of a carpet.

The Bentley Continental GT was once the finest GT on the market. Now it's a status symbol losing ground to a new generation of hotshots.

1st Place: 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith vs 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed

There's often a fine line between novelty and innovation, and the Wraith falls on the right side of this line every time. Take for instance, the doors that open backward and close themselves. This should be a parlor trick, the type of thing you show off at parties and then quietly curse at when you have to use it while all alone. Instead, it turns out that stepping into the wide section of the opened door is actually the way it's supposed to be done and that self-closing doors are quite handy. Same goes for the umbrella in the door jamb and the starry night headliner.

Features are nice, but where the Rolls-Royce really proves itself is in its exceptional clarity of mission and flawless execution. The Wraith was designed to achieve an experience, and that's exactly what it does. From the first time you open the door, to watching the Spirit of Ecstasy emerge from the hood, to running your toes through 3 inches of ultra-soft wool to powering down the highway without a whisper of noise, the Wraith is an experience.

2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith vs 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed

Some days you want to drive something so impeccably adorned, impressively assembled and visually striking that you accidentally drive across the country. For those days, there's nothing better than the 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

Vehicle
Model year2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith
Year Make Model2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith 2dr Coupe (6.6L 12cyl Turbo 8A)
Vehicle TypeRWD 2dr 4-passenger Coupe
Base MSRP$284,900
Options on test vehicleUpper Two-Tone Paint, Starlight Headliner, Canadel Paneling, Contrast Interior, Bespoke 1,300-Watt Audio System, RR Monogrammed Headrests, Polished Stainless-Steel Treadplates, Lambswool Floor Mats, Color Matched Trunk Trim, Wraith Package
As-tested MSRP$367,875
Drivetrain
ConfigurationLongitudinal, front engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine typeTwin-turbocharged, direct-injected V12, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)6,592/402
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDouble overhead camshaft
Compression ratio (x:1)10.0
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)624 @ 5,600
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)590 @ 1,500
Fuel typePremium unleaded (required)
Transmission typeEight-speed automatic
Transmission ratios (x:1)1=4.714, 2= 3.143, 3= 2.106, 4= 1.667, 5= 1.285, 6= 1.000, 7= 0.839, 8= 0.667
Final-drive ratio (x:1)2.813
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent double wishbones, pneumatic springs
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, pneumatic springs
Steering typeSpeed-proportional power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)19.1
Tire make and modelGoodyear Efficient Grip
Tire typePerformance front and rear
Tire size, front255/45R20 101Y
Tire size, rear285/40R20 104Y
Wheel size, front20-by-8.5 inches
Wheel size, rear20-by-9.5 inches
Wheel materialPolished alloy
Brakes, frontVentilated disc with four-piston fixed calipers
Brakes, rearVentilated disc with single-piston sliding calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)2.2
0-45 mph (sec.)3.4
0-60 mph (sec.)4.7
0-75 mph (sec.)6.4
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)12.7 @ 113.2
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)4.4
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)2.4
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.7
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)5.0
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)6.8
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)12.9 @ 113.1
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)4.7
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)28
60-0 mph (ft.)109
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON58.5
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.84
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.83
Sound level @ idle (dB)41.1
@ Full throttle (dB)77.6
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)60.0
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsAll things considered, this is a pretty uneventful exercise. In a way it is refreshing to have so few choices/settings (there's simply Drive or Low and traction on or off); however, the Power Reserve gauge replacing a proper tachometer is a bit over the top in my opinion. Traction control is clearly hard at work and I imagine there's a lot of power managment baked into the ECU as well. At any rate, the Wraith is one of those cars that is incredibly good at masking its speed with near-silent operation, buttery-smooth upshifts and a boatload of torque that propels the nearly 3-ton coupe with ease. I found Low to be slightly quicker than Drive and also found a few tenths managing the wheelspin myself with traction control disabled. Instead of consulting the tach for a launch rpm, I had to adapt and use the Power Reserve needle that showed 92%. I guess that means it uses just 8% of its potential to produce just the right amount of wheelspin (more than that lights the tires). It was really unexpected to hear the car shift hard enough from 1st to 2nd that chirped the tires (but only with traction control disabled). Super consistent trap speeds across six quarter-mile passes means it manages/dissipates heat very well.
Braking commentsAnother surprise: These utterly unflappable, amazingly capable brakes! Firm pedal, some dive, but always straight and predictable stops. Here's the shocker: The distances kept getting shorter with each successive stop and the best came on the seventh or eighth from 60 mph. Many sports cars have difficulty stopping in 109 feet so this is an absolutely amazing feat. Whoa.
Handling commentsSlalom: OK, now it feels like the 5,400-pound Roller I expected. Steering has reasonably good response and precision; however, the chassis is just not intended for the slalom test. It feels like a really heavy sedan with soft suspension settings and the momentum of an aircraft carrier. It just takes forever to transition from side to side and eventually it refuses to turn according to the steering input. The electronic stability system (ESC) is adept at correcting to the intended path and it disappears into the background quickly. Skid pad: Same story here, but there's more grip to be exploited here in a steady-state corner. I did find it odd and a little disconcerting that the steering wheel is reluctant to self-center and requires conscious undialing to resume a straight path.
Testing Conditions
Test date11/12/2013
Test locationCalifornia Speedway
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)76.19
Relative humidity (%)20.44
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.91
Odometer (mi.)6,112
Fuel used for test91-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)32/32
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)15 combined (13 city/21 highway)
Edmunds observed (mpg)18.1
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)21.9
Audio and Advanced Technology
Satellite radioStandard
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard phone and audio
Navigation systemStandard
Smart entry/StartStandard doors, ignition, trunk
Parking aidsStandard back-up camera
Adaptive cruise controlOptional
Lane-departure monitoringOptional
Collision warning/avoidanceOptional
Night VisionOptional
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)5,203
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)5,381
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)50.8/49.2
Length (in.)207.0
Width (in.)77.0
Height (in.)59.0
Wheelbase (in.)122.0
Track, front (in.)63.9
Track, rear (in.)65.7
Turning circle (ft.)41.7
Legroom, front (in.)41.5
Legroom, rear (in.)36.9
Headroom, front (in.)39.4
Headroom, rear (in.)37.0
Shoulder room, front (in.)59
Shoulder room, rear (in.)54.7
Seating capacity4
Trunk volume (cu-ft)16.6
Vehicle
Model year2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed
Year Make Model2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed 2dr Coupe AWD (6.0L 12cyl Turbo 8A)
Vehicle TypeAWD 2 door, 4 passenger coupe
Base MSRP$215,000
Options on test vehicleCarbon Ceramic Disc Brakes ($14,990); Limited Edition (1 of 48) Le Mans Edition ($5,455); Carbon-Fiber Fascia Panels, Center Console and Roof Console ($5,280); Convenience Specification ($4,220); Contrast Stitching ($1,865); Seat Ventillation and Massage ($840); Space-Saving Spare Wheel ($630); Deep Pile Carpet Overmats ($390); Gas-Guzzler Tax ($1,700)
As-tested MSRP$253,095
Assembly locationCrewe, England
North American parts content (%)1%
Drivetrain
ConfigurationLongitudinal, front engine, all-wheel drive
Engine typeTwin-turbocharged, direct-injection W12
Displacement (cc/cu-in)5,998/366
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Compression ratio (x:1)9.0
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,250
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)616 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)590 @ 2,000
Fuel typePremium unleaded (required)
Transmission typeEight-speed automatic with console shifter and column-mounted paddles with Sport/Competition modes
Transmission ratios (x:1)I = 4.71; II = 3.14; III = 2.1; IV = 1.67; V = 1.29; VI = 1.00; VII = 0.839; VIII = 0.667
Final-drive ratio (x:1)2.85
Chassis
Suspension, frontDouble wishbone, air springs, adjustable dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearMultilink, air springs, adjustable dampers, stabilizer bar
Steering typePower-assisted speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion
Tire make and modelPirelli P Zero
Tire typeAsymmetrical summer performance
Tire size, front275/35ZR21 103Y
Tire size, rear275/35ZR21 103Y
Wheel size21-by-9.5 inches front and rear
Wheel materialPainted alloy
Brakes, front16.5-inch cross-drilled and vented ceramic disc, eight-piston fixed caliper
Brakes, rear14-inch cross-drilled and vented ceramic disc, single-piston sliding caliper
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)1.9
0-45 mph (sec.)2.8
0-60 mph (sec.)4.1
0-75 mph (sec.)5.7
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)12.3 @ 113.1
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)3.9
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)2.1
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.1
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)4.4
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)6.1
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)12.5 @ 113.2
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)4.1
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)29
60-0 mph (ft.)116
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)65.7
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON63.6
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.86
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.86
Sound level @ idle (dB)47.4
@ Full throttle (dB)76.7
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)64.8
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)1,200
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsToo long on the brakes while also on the throttle for a good launch is counterproductive. There might be a "magic" number of tenths for pedal overlap, but there's no launch control per se either. I managed to find about 0.3 second here. Left in the manual-shift gate it'll still auto-upshift and these shifts are only slightly quicker/more jarring than in other modes. Even with as much cooling as I could hope for on the return to the start line, the trap speeds at the end of the quarter-mile began to slow, revealing only a slight problem with heat building up. It lost about 3 mph between the first and fifth pass.
Braking commentsDespite minimal dive, good directionality and a firm pedal, I was baffled by the inconsistent bite and stopping distances from run to run.
Handling commentsSlalom: Although I can hardly complain that a 5,200-pound car (with 58% of that on its nose) goes through our slalom test at "only" 65.7 mph, I seem to remember the Conti GT (and especially the Speed version) having greater grip and capability. Sure, this is still remarkable, but I was expecting sharper response, especially in the transitions between cones with the suspension in the firmest setting. Steering weight is only a little excessive, but it does remind you of the actual weight of the task you are asking of the car. Skid pad: Again, I thought these cars were able to circle a skid pad at 0.90g or better. Huh. Still a remarkable feat, for sure, but I'm thinking you now need to opt for Super Sport to get the sharpest tool in Continental's drawer.
Testing Conditions
Test date11/12/2013
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)75.75
Relative humidity (%)20.38
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.92
Wind (mph, direction)0.8
Odometer (mi.)8,869
Fuel used for test91-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)49
As-tested ballasted trailer weight (lbs.)46
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)15 combined (12 city/21 highway)
Edmunds observed (mpg)14
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)24
Audio and Advanced Technology
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard with proprietary input
Satellite radioStandard
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard phone and audio
Navigation systemStandard
Smart entry/StartStandard doors, ignition and trunk
Parking aidsStandard parking sonar, optional rearview camera
Adaptive cruise controlOptional
Lane-departure monitoringOptional
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)5,173
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)58.3/41.7
Length (in.)189.2
Width (in.)76.5
Height (in.)54.9
Wheelbase (in.)108.1
Seating capacity4
Trunk volume (cu-ft)12.6
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