It’s about 95 degrees when I find myself in the desert just outside of Las Vegas. I look at the screen on my navigation and notice that I have spent my fourth hour on the road. When the strip was seen over the horizon, I couldn’t help but choose to stay a day or two. No matter, it’s time to dump her and move on. Up to this point, I haven’t driven anything but highways since I left Los Angeles, and I’m curious to see what “speed” can really do.
The “Speed” I am talking about actually ends with the latest Bentley Continental GT Speed, a six figure, W12-powered Grand Tour in the best specification I’ve ever seen. Although it is a mile-stage, there is more to speed than its role as a comfortable GT. It exists as a final hurray for Bentley’s legendary W12 because carmakers have announced plans to phase it out in the coming years to make room for electric powertrains. Honestly, an electric Bentley carries all the money in the world. It will be quieter, more comfortable and faster than before. But before closing the brand’s big displacement chapter, let’s embark on a final road trip to see if Bentley’s speed is the best.
The route was relatively easy. I left my Los Angeles home and headed for Las Vegas. It would take me a little over four hours to get to the city of sin. However, instead of spending the night in some glamorous hotel, my masochist himself chose to drive home the same day, a total of about nine hours on the road and more than 600 miles cover. Determining whether the Continental GT Speed is a great grand tour that is claimed per bit, this trip will definitely give me an answer.
Since I didn’t want to cross the desert in the middle of the night, I decided to start early. I chose to do this in the middle of the week where the traffic from tourists would be significantly less. Since a major highway connects the two cities, fewer people on the road would mean a clearer stretch of road where speed can flex its muscles.
Speaking of muscle, we should talk about GT Speed because it is more than just the latest special Bentley. Yes, it has the same 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 that we know and love. However, it now produces 650 horsepower and 664 foot-pounds of torque. This allowed the 5,000-plus-pound coupe to reach 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds before reaching a maximum speed of 208 miles per hour. Despite their impressive statistics, they do not tell half a story.
The latest is about the GT Speed Hall’s chassis because it employs more clever tactics than ever before to provide a driving experience that it really shouldn’t be capable of. It all starts with the new four-wheel steering system, which allows the rear wheels of the speed to rotate with the front at low speeds and in the opposite direction at low speeds. Improved mobility results in slower and greater stability at higher speeds. Supplement which is a new electronic limited-slip differential for more traction. The star of the show is the new active anti-roll bar system that connects to small electric motors and aims to eliminate the GT’s body roll.
To control that fat body, Bentley gave the new GT Speed the biggest brakes fitted to a production car. The carbon-ceramic discs feature a 440 mm front and 10-piston caliper. Despite their huge size, these composite discs lose up to 72 pounds lighter, unexpected weight than their steel equivalents.
Inside, business as usual for GT Bentley. From bright silver to piano black trim panels, there are endless high-quality materials with different finishes. However, the main attraction of my particular tester was its green skin and Alcantara interior color scheme. With a few hints of beige in the details for a slight contrast, this GT Speed interior was easily one of the best options I’ve seen.
As Los Angeles began to fade into the background and the desert lay in front, GT Speed wasted no time in trying to conquer me. It started with its multiple driving modes. On the highway, comfort mode was king. This sets the Speeds three-chamber active air suspension system in its most forgiving mode. The GT glides on the imperfections of the road at speed, but it does not float. There is no feeling of being disconnected from the road like going to Rolls-Royce. It works for the convenience of speed because it still feels tight and tight, not just disturbed by obstacles.
The second and probably the most addictive aspect of GT Speed was its power. The 650 hp is a lot more than any car, but Bentley’s dual-clutch transmission makes it less expensive. This heavy grand tour speeds up effortlessly, traveling at triple-digit speeds in just seconds. Keep your feet down for a simple overtake and you will immediately see traffic moving in the opposite direction with your rear-view mirror. Although the W12 does not return so high, it does deliver bootload torque at the lower end. As a result, GT does not feel the slightest laziness. Even in its lazy modes, the speed feels eager to push, helping you open the taps.
The road cleared as soon as I crossed Barstow, CA. It also helped that there was nothing but an open desert between it and the next small town. It presents the perfect opportunity to stretch the legs of speed and test the demands of high-speed stability. As soon as I picked up the speed, I learned that the GT’s power is a bit like a two-edged sword. This coupe was like an irresistible force at very high speeds, aided by its heavy weight and clever handling elements. It would be shortened to say stable. However, the flip side of it is that you don’t feel too much speed. Triple-digit speeds feel as stressful as doing 50 miles per hour on the freeway. The GT does such a great job of masking the wind and street noise that you don’t get the full thrill of opening it.
After those wide-open throttle went out of my system, I lowered things and settled for the rest of my long drive. This presents a good time to poke around the interior of the GT. The first thing that strikes you about the interior of this coupe is how many buttons there are. The whole center console is covered in physical control, and I liked it. I have said it many times, but I would always prefer this type of switchgear to the latest touch-sensitive panel found in a growing number of new cars.
The GT’s Dash has a huge 12.3-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity in the center. While Bentley’s native infotainment system is stunning to look at, I found it a bit cumbersome to use and opted to stick with smartphone-based systems. One thing I found a little unusual is that CarPlay did not use the full width of the screen. Instead, you are stuck with a small rectangle to the left of the panel.
After more than four hours on the highway, I chose to leave the Las Vegas Strip behind on the horizon. I pulled into a stretch of desert next to a huge gun range to take some pictures. This is the first time I’ve gotten a good look at the GT Speed, and even in its bug-obscured state it was stunning. While this is Bentley’s highest-performing model, they didn’t do everything in the styling department. They can easily make it look performance-based by plastering it with over-the-top arrow material and carbon fiber. Instead, they chose to exercise some restraint.
Although the GT Speed has more aggressive front and rear bumpers, they are excellent. Additionally, the motion seems to favor muscular swelling rather than extra sharp lines, which means its design will probably age quite well. My tester also features a darker version of the standard 22-inch wheels with gloss black trim and speed, which is awesome to look at. However, the best part about this GT Speed was, of course, its paint. It’s called Cambrian Green, and in most light conditions it can look black, offering plenty of sparkle in the desert sun.
Once I finished flipping over the beautiful look of this car, I headed to Las Vegas for a quick meal. Despite being on the road for many hours, I did not feel tired. Thanks to the GT’s excellent suspension and sound isolation, I felt refreshed driving through the strip. Despite its significant footprint, the GT’s speed shrinks around you as it passes through traffic and with low enough torque to move mountains, it’s easily the fastest car on the road wherever you go.
After wandering around for a while, I became anxious to get back on the road. I didn’t want to stop running GT. Of course, it would be nice to be in Vegas. But, it was better to drive more miles in one of my favorite cars of the year.
On the way back across the desert and about seven hours down the road, I noticed some errors in the GT. The honeymoon stage was worn out, and I thought more critically about this car. One of the strange errors was its driving position. I thought I was sitting too high up in the cabin, but after messing with the controls, I realized my seat would never go down again. Secondly, a strange creek coming from the transmission shift lever, every time I caught it, it made a very un-bentli sound, reminding me of its plastic construction.
Nitpick aside, the GT speed in this desert race has made for an extraordinary companion. With a base price of around $ 275,000 and a tested price of $ 350,000, there’s a lot of work to be done to justify the GT Speed’s price tag. However, it does add some value when you consider it in context. If you want to keep going to the upmarket, you’ll want to look at a Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost as I drove to San Francisco earlier this year. It will cost you around $ 500,000 for a sporting luxury experience Although they are very different cars, they attract a lot of the same buyers and GT certainly did not leave me wanting more.
Fortunately, more than what GT claimed. It has a comfortable GT and a perfect driving experience for a proper sports car. I was glad it was my companion for my two desert runs. It’s hard enough to build a luxury car and a sports car, but Bentley is in a league of its own because it blends these two personalities seamlessly. When you are behind the wheel you can feel a high level of engineering behind the scenes creating your driving experience. And while Bentley’s electrified future will undoubtedly be great, it is currently building some of its best cars.