Again, if you look at the plain stats of the Bentley Continental GT Speed you’ll struggle to work out what’s changed. The Speed will do 1mph more than the standard car – that’s 208mph rather than 207 – it has 25 more horsepower from the same 6.0-litre W12 engine as the normal Conti with a peak of 659PS (485kW) at around 5,000rpm, while torque is no different, with 900Nm (664lb ft) on tap from 1,500rpm.
The changes drop the 0-62mph sprint by just 0.1 seconds to 3.6 while it’ll hit the tonne in 7.8. With so little changed you have to wonder again, what is the point?
That’s where the other changes come into play. The GT Speed now has an electronic limited-slip diff, there’s also torque vectoring and rear-wheel-steering, the latter a first for any Continental GT. There’s a re-engineered traction control system that Bentley says allows a little more fun to be had in sport mode, too. The brakes, if you opt for the carbon-ceramics, feature the largest discs ever fitted to a production road car – all 440mm of them.
Does it work? In short, yes it does, but there needs to be a little more nuance in the question really. The GT Speed is definitely a lot more leant toward the driver than the standard Conti. Summon all 900Nm at once and the rear will shimmy, revelling in the extra freedom it now has. In sport mode only 28 per cent of the power is allowed to go to the front wheels, which you can feel straight off. Coupled with a slacker traction control system, the big Bentley will now offer up a taste of adjustability. The 48V anti-roll bars have been retuned too, to allow just a little more roll in sport mode. Not horrible wobbling yaw, more the kind of roll your brain expects in cornering, it helps you to understand the car’s movement more, engaging your brain in the process. That allowed weight shift also means the car will move around, taking advantage of that rear bias and diff to hint at a lairy nature.
The problem with the question is it needs to ask where it works. On a track it’s still a 2.3-tonne machine. Sure it feels like a 2.3-tonne car that does things no 2.3-tonne car should, but also half a lap and those brakes will feel hot, and you’ll be straining. On the road it feel like it can be fun, but given it’s the same size as a Kensington flat you hold back, unsure if there’s the space for that fun. What you need really is an old army base, to fling the Speed round with abandon.
That said, this kind of adjustability is something a little new for Bentley. The Speed is keen to go sideways, and on the road it’s sometimes a bit more of a wrestle to extract performance without the back going off for its own fun. The rear-steer helps to dig the car in when you request a turn while the pliability from that new traction control system and diff pairing is very welcome. The steering is weighty while not offering much feel and the front wheels don’t offer too much understeer unless you’re really being an idiot on turn in.
It being a Bentley though, stick the car back into Bentley or Comfort mode and it becomes, a Bentley again. The Conti switches off some all but six cylinders on its W12, sets its damping to waft and just gets on with being very, very, comfortable.