New Bentley Continental GT Speed is built for bends

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The most rapid of Bentleys have always lived up to their names when it comes to straight-line performance, but the latest Continental GT Speed has been crafted for corners as well.

Key to the big Brit’s new-found agility is a raft of upgrades to its steering, all-wheel-drive system, and stability control technology.

To begin with, the Continental GT Speed has all-wheel steering for the first time. At lower speeds, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction to the fronts and provide more rapid direction changes and a tighter turning radius. The steering ratio is also faster than before, giving the driver an even greater sense of involvement. At high speeds, the rear wheels steer in the same direction as the fronts, improving lane-change stability.

The all-wheel drive system’s traction control and torque distribution has been recalibrated. In normal driving the torque split is 50:50 front to rear, but switch to Sport mode and more grunt is sent to the rear wheels, where a new electronic limited slip differential is fitted. Bentley claims that the new diff gives better traction in slippery conditions, but keen drivers will be glad to hear that it provides more on-throttle adjustability as well. Further tuning of the Electronic Stability Control in its dynamic mode allows “the experienced pilot to set and alter the cornering stance of the car at their discretion.” In other words, this appears to be a Continental that can power slide.

Aiding the ability to spin up the rear wheels is an enhanced version of the 6.0-liter W-12 engine. Now packing 659 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque, the Continental GT Speed is appropriately speedy. Zero to 60 mph takes 3.5 seconds, and top speed is 208 mph. The dual-clutch eight-speed transmission has been fettled for faster shifts. In Sport mode it changes gear twice as fast as a standard Continental GT.

The GT stops as well as it goes, with powerful new Carbon Silicon Carbide discs and 10-piston calipers. The new brakes are 73 pounds lighter and produce less dust than conventional versions.

Visual updates to the GT Speed are quite subtle, with the most noticeable being new 22-inch wheels. The radiator and lower bumper grille are black, and the car wears deeper sills and Speed badging. Open the door and you’ll see illuminated Bentley treadplates as you step into the two-tone cabin. Acres of leather and Alcantara adorn every soft surface, while a dark tint-turned aluminum is applied to the center console. Piano black wood veneer is standard with a choice of six further woods to trim the dashboard. Buyers can pick from 15 main and 11 secondary hide colors as well.

The Continental GT Speed is expected to cost $274,900 when it goes on sale at the end of 2021, with the order books open now.

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