It's worth noting that this will be among the last Bentley cars to have the iconic W12 engine, as the British carmaker will cease hand-building 12-cylinder engines in April 2024, in order to focus on producing a fully electric model lineup by the start of the next decade.
Phasing out the W12 engine, which has been produced in Crewe, England for the last two decades, will allow Bentley to expand its line of engines used for plug-in hybrids.
Meanwhile, this third-generation model builds on a long tradition of Speed variants.
Originally introduced with the highly-acclaimed, first generation Continental GT Speed in 2007 – itself inspired by the 3.0-litre Speed models of the 1920s, the latest GT Speed is said to represent the ultimate combination of luxury and performance in a Grand Touring package.
It has an uprated version of Bentley’s 6.0-litre W12 TSI engine, delivering 659ps or a 4% increase of 24ps over the current W12 model – whilst maintaining 900Nm of torque.
This results in a top speed of 335kph and 0-100kph in 3.6 seconds.
In Sport mode, the twin-turbocharged W12 has been tuned to keep the engine in the power band longer by up-shifting later, or downshifting earlier.
This creates a more eager response to the driver’s throttle inputs.
The dual-clutch, eight-speed transmission shift is twice as fast in Sport mode as in the standard W12 model, in keeping with the Speed’s ethos.
To maximise fuel efficiency, the model benefits from Bentley’s Stop-Start technology where the engine rests not only when the vehicle is stationary, but also at near-to-stop speeds.
Meanwhile, the Electronic All-Wheel Steering enhances the dynamic nature of the Speed in Bentley and Comfort driving modes.
This is even more apparent in Sport mode, as the steering combines with Bentley Dynamic Ride and an electronic limited slip differential for a level of agility unlike any other Bentley road car.
At low and medium speeds, the GT Speed’s rear wheels are steered in the opposite direction to the front wheels to aid a rapid change of direction, noticeably increasing the feeling of nimbleness.
The steering feels sharper and with a quicker ratio, and a commensurate increase in steering feel provides even more driver confidence.
At high speeds, the rear wheels steer in the same direction as the front, to improve stability.
The system is significantly more active on the GT Speed than it is on the Flying Spur, where its primary purpose is a reduction in turning circle and enhanced high-speed stability.
Featuring Active All-Wheel drive, the traction control and torque distribution has been recalibrated in all driver modes.
For the first time in a Bentley, an electronic rear differential (eLSD) is used to deliver better traction in adverse road conditions.
Key chassis technologies that deliver body control and ride comfort with no compromise, are Bentley’s three-chamber active air suspension with adaptive damping, and Bentley Dynamic Ride – the 48V active anti-roll control system that Bentley pioneered on the Bentayga and third-generation Continental GT.
This innovative system features powerful electric motors within each anti-roll bar to resist body roll.
Meanwhile, an option is a fade-resistant Carbon Ceramic brake system where 10-piston front callipers and four-piston rears supply incredible braking force.
The carbon ceramic material also saves over 33kg of weight (all of it un-sprung mass) and produces extremely low levels of brake dust, helping to maintain the fresh look of the 22-inch Speed wheels.
As for the exterior, Speed models add a Dark Tint radiator grille and lower bumper grille, as well as more sculpted sports sills, a Dark Tint radiator matrix and discreet Speed badging in chrome on the front fender.
Also, “Jewel” versions of the fuel and oil filler caps are standard, while illuminated Bentley treadplates to both sills are a nod to the Speed’s performance credentials.
In the cabin, there are Speed embroidered headrests, and a duotone colour split handcrafted in hide and matching Alcantara, which is also applied to the steering wheel.
The interior can be personalised with a choice of 15 main and 11 secondary hide colours, as well as the use of leather in lieu of Alcantara for the Speed colour split.
Bentley’s Diamond in Diamond quilting is included as standard.
A range of veneers are available in GT Speed, starting with Piano Black veneer as standard.
Customers can also choose Crown Cut Walnut, Dark Stained Burr Walnut and Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus at no extra cost, with three open pore options (Dark Burr Walnut, Crown Cut Walnut and Koa) available as options.
As with all Continental GTs, the Speed offers four seats and grand touring luggage capacity of 358 litres.