Bentley Continental GT Speed: car review – The Guardian

Posted: Sunday, March 27, 2016

Price: £156,700
0-60mph: 4 seconds
Top speed: 206mph
Economy: 19.5mpg

“Is that a Rolls-Royce?” asked the unsmiling boy. “No,” I grinned. “It’s actually a Bentley Continental GT Speed.” He looked unimpressed. “It’s the fastest-production Bentley ever to come out of the factory in Crewe.” Still nothing, maybe a slight nod. He wandered off. My wife said: “Why do you bother showing off to a 12-year-old?” Little turd, I thought.

We’d driven to Broadstairs, Kent, on the Kent coast to watch my teenage daughter play football. They’d been heroic, but had lost 14-1. Now, on the way home, hunger pangs had set in and for my amusement we’d taken this magnificent super car to a drive-thru McDonald’s. But the lane was too narrow, so we’d had to get out. More unsmiling people stared at us. Maybe we deserved it, driving a car like this.

If you had access to a private runway, this Bentley would do 206mph. Floor the throttle and you hit 60mph in 4 seconds, keep pressing and you top 100mph in 9 seconds. I didn’t do that, but even at low speeds you can blip the throttle and relish the throaty roar of its huge twin-turbocharged W12 626bhp engine. It’s truly breathtaking, but I was soon overtaken by angst. Driving a car built for such unattainable speed is an exercise in relentless goal denial. Tantalus would have been right at home cruising at 70mph (a third of the Bentley’s top speed), but for the rest of us each journey is a lesson in acceleration self-abnegation.

Inside story: the sumptuous interior is so comfortable you could cruise all day.

Inside story: the sumptuous interior is so comfortable you could cruise all day. Photograph: James Lipman

But once you accept the abstinent nature of your relationship, there is still so much to admire. It has size and heft – the wheels are gigantic 21inchers – yet it is so beautifully sculpted it actually appears quite discreet – though clearly not if you get it in this shade of garishness.

There’s an unexpectedly sensible boot (it easily passes the golf club test) and it has four proper seats. Being a two-door it does require some lower-spine suppleness to clamber into the back. The interior is wonderful: a straight A-grade throughout, and with its deep swoops and glinting organ-stop controls the dashboard is a work of art in itself. At its centre is the infotainment screen. It’s clear and easy to use, but curiously lacking in information. Radio stations are hard to track down, and the trip computer doesn’t reveal the car’s economy or range. That might be because it only does a shameful 20 miles to the gallon.

Power is fed through a refined eight-speed auto to all four wheels. Thanks to the electrically assisted speed-variable steering, control is light and precise. But at speed (well, at 70mph) it settles happily into itself. Quiet and yet devastatingly compliant, this monstrously endowed Bentley is curiously calming, and driving it leaves you unflustered. You don’t arrive drenched in sweat, ticking with nervous energy. It’s more like visiting a spa; a luxury cruise through life which makes even a 14-1 drubbing seem beside the point.

Email Martin at or follow him on Twitter @MartinLove166


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