- New GT Speed model with 650 horsepower
- GT Speed upgrades include rear-wheel steering and electronic limited-slip differential
- Part of the third Continental GT generation introduced for 2020
True to its name, Bentley's Continental GT is a grand tourer as well as one of the world's preeminent luxury coupes. It treats its driver to an opulent cabin and sublime comfort but can also hustle its ample mass around a set of corners without feeling clumsy. For ultimate performance, Bentley is bringing back the Continental GT Speed for 2022. Last seen on the previous-generation Continental in 2018, the GT Speed boosts the W12 engine's output, adds a few mechanical and electronic bits to increase handling ability, and decorates the interior in sporty materials. Read on for the full breakdown of the 2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed.
The Continental GT is offered with either a turbocharged V8 (542 horsepower, 568 lb-ft of torque) or a turbocharged W12 (626 hp, 664 lb-ft). The GT Speed uses a slightly more powerful version of the W12 with 650 hp. Bentley says the power bump translates to a 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds — a 0.1-second improvement compared to the standard W12. No matter the engine choice, power is routed to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Continental GT Speed's performance gains are more apparent in switchbacks than on the drag strip. It comes standard with all-wheel steering, which allows the rear wheels to turn in the opposite direction of the fronts for more agile handling at low to medium speeds. At higher thresholds, the front and rear wheels turn in sync for a more stable ride. The GT Speed is also the first Bentley to feature an electronic limited-slip differential for putting down power to the wheels with the most traction. Unique to the GT Speed are fade-resistant carbon-ceramic brakes that shave over 70 pounds of mass compared to the normal rotors.
There's really only one word to describe how the Bentley Continental GT Speed feels from behind the wheel: tremendous. Sure, that may not come as a surprise given that the Continental is a big and heavy exotic luxury coupe. But acceleration, for example, is just awe-inspiring. When you plant the right pedal to the floor, you are thrust back in your seat as the twin-turbocharged W12 propels you forward with a sonorous growl emanating from the oval tailpipes. The carbon-ceramic brakes snap you back to reality in a hurry, as if you pulled the rip cord on an NHRA dragster.
But for all its impressive straight-line stuff, the Continental GT Speed is even more sublime in turns. The Conti is easy to place in turns, and even tight corners won't get the body to roll if you're in one of the more dynamic driving modes. Loosen the stability control and the rear end will kick loose, allowing you to perform heroic drifts with ease. Props to Bentley's engineers — there's a lot of electronic trickery going on here to effectively hide the Continental GT Speed's mass.
All of this said, the GT Speed doesn't feel like a total transformation from the other Continental variants. That's because the Continental is a supremely capable machine right out of the gate. The standard V8 model can sprint from zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds, or only a few tenths slower than the top-spec GT Speed. Likewise, the entire lineup comes with an adaptive air suspension, which does a pretty good job of keeping the body flat as you pound around corners. The GT Speed has some benefits for drivers looking to extract maximum performance from the vehicle, but the majority of drivers will be suited just fine by the standard V8 model.
The Continental GT's interior is elegance personified. Swaths of leather, wood and chrome blanket every surface, and details like knurled knobs and diamond-pattern quilted door inserts remind you at every turn that you aren't driving something as pedestrian as a BMW 8 Series.
The GT Speed mixes up the classical-meets-modern motif of the standard Continental with sportier accents. The thickly bolstered performance seats and steering wheel are trimmed in a combination of leather and grippy Alcantara faux suede (which can be swapped out for more leather, if you desire). "Speed" logos are embroidered on all headrests for an increased sense of theater, while the knobs, buttons and air vent surrounds can now be optioned in dark chrome for a stealthy appearance.
After spending a day in both coupe and convertible versions, we think a full leather interior is the way to go. Alcantara on the seats and steering wheel feels sort of the same no matter which car you get it in — Ford Shelby GT500, Porsche 718 Cayman or Bentley Continental GT Speed. The cabin is just a lot more special when it's coated in the rich, quilted leathers draped over the seats in the V8 and W12 configurations. Also, we'd like to officially suggest neck coolers for the convertible. The included neck warmers are great for heating yourself on cool nights, but cold air kissing your neck as you cruise Hollywood Boulevard or tour the south of France in summer? That's luxury we can get behind.
Since Bentley set its sights primarily on upgrading the Continental's performance potential, the GT Speed's tech features and driving aids mirror those of the standard model. Inside the cabin is a 12.3-inch touchscreen with a crisp display and quick reaction times. One of the more impressive items on the options list places the touchscreen on a three-sided spindle, giving the driver the ability to swipe the digital panel away at the press of a button.
On the safety side, we believe the GT Speed, like other versions of the Continental, will come standard with frontal collision warning, automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring. Adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and a night vision mode will likely be available via the Touring Specification option package.
The Bentley Continental GT provides a sense of drama and prestige to the lucky few able to afford it. The new range-topping GT Speed elevates this big luxury coupe's performance without compromising its otherwise regal approach to luxury. However, only drivers looking to eke out maximum performance will find the GT Speed a worthy upgrade — most buyers will find their needs met by the standard V8 version.