The Bentley Continental GT V8 makes so much more sense than the W12. If you like your grand tourers as excessive as possible, though, the appeal is understandable, particularly if your W12 Conti of choice is the new GT Speed.
It features a tickled version of that 6.0-litre beast of an engine, with the power output climbing from 626 to 650bhp, while the torque remains as is at 664lb ft. 0-60mph now takes just 3.6 seconds, an improvement of two tenths, and the top speed is 208mph. That’s 6mph more than a standard W12 Continental, and 1mph higher than the W12 Flying Spur.
The uplift in performance isn’t the only thing the Speed has over its ‘lesser’ stablemates. Bentley has also given the car a rear-wheel steering system which is “significantly more active” than the setup found on the Flying Spur, and a new electronically-controlled limited-slip differential.
Set it to Sport mode, and the Continental GT sends more power to the rear the normal W12 does, while the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox shifts cogs twice as quickly. The electronic stability control can easily be turned off if preferred, but when left on, it intervenes much later than it used to. As before, there’s a three-chamber air suspension setup and active anti-roll bars powered by a 48-volt subsystem.
The Continental GT Speed’s huge iron brakes can be swapped for optional carbon ceramics, lopping 33kg from the car’s unsprung mass. The vast rotors are squeezed by 10-piston calipers at the front and four-pot calipers at the rear.
The stoppers live under 22-inch wheels bespoke to the GT, which have been added along with tweaked front and rear bumpers plus sportier side skirts.
Inside, there’s the inevitable increase in Alcantara use plus some ‘Speed’ badging, but as with all of Bentley’s models, how it looks is very much up to you. There are 15 main leather hides to choose from, and a dizzying range of dashboard veneers on offer. Crewe’s legendary leather quilting comes as standard.
The price is unknown, but to give you an idea of how much it might cost, the standard W12 starts at £159,000 and can easily be specced beyond £200,000. It’ll be launched in the third quarter of 2021.