Bentley reveals 208mph Continental GT Speed

23rd March 2021
Bob Murray

Speed: it’s a word close to Goodwood’s heart and also part of Bentley’s vocabulary, and now it’s back as the badge on the fastest Continental GT – petrol powered of course. Crewe might be readying its transition to an all-electric line-up by 2030 but there’s still time to revel in the delights of a mighty 12-cylinder engine.

The Continental GT Speed coupe, with convertible sure to follow, is unveiled today and goes on sale from around September priced at 20 per cent above a regular Conti GT, so expect a tag of around £190,000.


Worth it for what’s likely to be the W12’s last hurrah? Tweaks to the turbos have lifted power by 24PS to 659PS (485kW), still with 900Nm (666lb ft) of torque, so this 2.7-tonne two-door four-seater should be a tad brisker than the regular GT. You’re right, it’s a very modest boost, the W12 still falling short of the 710PS (522kW) developed by the Conti GT Supersports of 2018. But then 208mph and 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds isn’t exactly hanging around.

For the biggest clues to what Bentley is badging as “the ultimate performance-focused interpretation of the world’s benchmark luxury Grand Tourer” you have to look underneath. Biggest change is the adoption of four-wheel steering, already familiar from the Flying Spur, and an electronic diff lock at the rear. 

The result is claimed to be greater handling agility with the bonus of more high-speed stability, all with the same comfort and refinement from the air-sprung suspension. A faster-responding auto ‘box should enhance the sporty feel while the carbon ceramic brakes are said to have been newly engineered for this model.


The biggest design difference is new twin-spoke 22-inch wheels, gloss black like all the other trim parts on the car, while 3D-effect sills are equally new and cool looking. The subtlety of the elevation to Speed continues with new style of mesh grille while inside changes are confined to pedals and trim details. Plus plenty of Speed insignia of course.

All very enticing then, but is this really the swansong for the W12 engine, of which Bentley has built 100,000 examples? “I wouldn’t call it a swansong just yet,” Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark tells us. “There is life in it yet. But today this is the pinnacle of the brand, the cleanest W12 we have ever built.”

It is unlikely to be getting any cleaner: Hallmark is quick to rule out a plug-in hybrid version of the W12; there’s just not enough room to squeeze everything in. But it could get more powerful, and surely a farewell W12 Supersports is on the cards even though engineering chief Matthias Rabe is adamant the new Speed “doesn’t need more power”.


What else is coming from the company which, with a record order bank, has seemingly mastered Brexit and beaten Covid-19? There are nine new product actions this year. A convertible Speed, as mentioned, is likely but the big Conti news soon will be the first plug-in hybrid version, using the V6 petrol-electric drivetrain from the Bentayga.

It won’t be as fast as the new GT Continental Speed but for some Bentley buyers it might be more in keeping with the times.

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