This Bentley Continental GT Speed is much like the standard Continental GT but adds, you guessed it, speed – and lots of it. The car now has a higher top speed, faster 0-60mph time, stops more quickly, and handles better, but is it better than the standard car? We hopped inside and took it to the streets of Hampshire for a full road test review. 

Design

The Bentley Continenal GT Speed doesn't look markedly different than the standard Continental GT, but if you look closely you'll see a few tell-tale signs that reveal its status as the flagship in the range. Up front, the car comes with exclusive 21-inch, ten-spoke alloy wheels and a dark-tint matrix to the radiator shell and lower bumper grilles. Round the back it features 'rifled' exhaust tailpipes and chrome rear lamp bezels.

Still not particulary flashy, then, but the Speed is the first Continental GT to feature a model badge, a consequence of Bentley customers wanting onlookers to know they're driving a Bentley with bells on. Here, they take the form of a pair of 'W12' adornments -- one on either side. 

Inside, the Bentley Continental GT Speed comes as standard with the high-end Mulliner Driving Specification, which has to be purchased as an option on the standard Continental GT. The Mulliner spec brings with it diamond-quilted, perforated leather on all four seats, door drims and rear quarter panels. The ceiling, meanwhile, is clad in indented leather and you can specify a GT Speed-exclusive dark tint aluminium finish to the dashboard.

Practicality

The Bentley Continental GT Speed may be one of the most powerful grand tourers on the planet, but it's one you can easily use every day. The rear seats are a little on the small side, but it's completely fine for short-ish journeys. The boot offers ample room, too -- 358 litres to be precise, which is about as much room as you get in a standard family hatchback.

Up front, the GT Speed is comfortable ans spacious, but there isn't a great deal of room for stashing your things. There's some space in relatively shallow door bins, and you can perch your mobile in a cubby ahead of the gear selector stick, but for anything else you may need to splash out on the optional central storage case, which doesn't come cheap at £420. 

Performance & Handling

The Bentley Continental GT Speed is about as powerful a grand tourer as you'll ever find. It uses the same 6-litre twin-turbocharged W12 engine as found in the standard GT and GTC, but here it's been cranked up to 11. The engine produces a prodigious 616bhp and 800Nm of torque, all of which is fed seamlessly through a new ZF eight-speed close-ratio automatic gearbox.

Unsurprisingly, the GT Speed gets out of its way pretty well. It'll do 0-60mph in 4 seconds dead (or 0-62mph in 4.2) and it'll keep slicing its way through the air until it reaches 205mph. Its in-gear acceleration is just as impressive as its standing start performance. Floor the throttle at any speed and it'll kick down a few otches and launch itself forward with such alacrity you'll do well to contain your excitement.

What's most impressive, perhaps, is the way the GT Speed puts its power down. We've driven countless performance cars with far less power that struggle to accelerate under their own brute force – Jaguar XKR-S, we're looking at you. In contrast, the Continental GT Speed is extremely composed and stayes glued to whatever surface is below it. 

It's staggering under braking, too. Our test car was fitted with the optional 420mm front and 356mm rear cross-drilled Carbon Silicon-Carbide discs, which cost a whopping £10,200 on top of the base price. They work well, though -- strong, resistant to fade and they're even guaranteed to last the lifetime of the car under 'normal' driving conditions.

Handling in the GT Speed, meanwhile, is admirable. Its suspension has been dropped by 10mm, which helps it stay flat and composed through bends. A few b-road liberties revealed surprising agility, but we weren't able to find the absolute limits of the car's cornering ability. We paid a visit Thruxton race circuit in order to discover how far it could be pushed but the surface was covered in ice and snow, so slow and steady was the order of the day. That said, the fact that we were on the track in those conditions at all was testament to the GT Speed's capabilities.

When not being driven hard, the GT Speed rides exceptionally well, soaking up even the worst pothole judder.

Economy & environment

The GT Speed pays lip service to Mother Nature. Its W12 returns a fairly impressive 19.5mpg and Bentley claims it'll emit 338g/km of CO2. Those are better figures than you'll get while driving a Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2, plus the Bentley is significantly more powerful and has a higher top speed.

Equipment & value

The Bentley Continental GT Speed has no shortage of equipment -- much of it optional, most of it pricey. As standard, the car comes with the same 8-inch touchscreen as the standard GT, which includes a 30GB hard drive for storing maps and ripping CD audio. It's been updated slightly, however, and will now let you add personal points of interest, so if you spot something interesting by the roadside, you can add it to the nav for reference.

The GT Speed features an eight-speaker sound system as standard, though audiophiles can upgrade this to an 11-speaker Naim for Bentley system. Both sound great, though the Naim audio setup has the edge (and so it should, seeing as it costs £5,365 extra).

A wealth of other options are available including, but not limited to massage seats (£350), Bluetooth with privacy handset (£330), rear view camera (£865), TV tuner (£865), heated steering wheel (£350) and boot carpets (£290).

Safety

The Bentley Continental GT Speed has never been crash tested by Euro NCAP, so we can't tell you how safe it is in the event of a collision. However the car has the usual array of safety technology features including driver and front passenger airbags and front and rear side and thorax airbags. Bentley also makes a driver's knee airbag, though this feature is only available to North American customers.

Verdict

The Bentley Continental GT has always appealed to a small minority of well-to-do motorists who want performance, comfort and exclusivity. The Speed edition will appeal to an even smaller subsection that want even more. It's incredibly fast, delivering its astonishing grunt with savagery when required but without sacrificing any of the comfort and convenience you'd expect from a Bentley. Some might argue it's not quite as thrilling a drive as rival supercars in the same price bracket, but if you want a 205mph grand tourer that seats four and commands immense respect without being too flashy, it's difficult to beat.

KEY SPECS
Model tested: Bentley Continental GT Speed
Engine: 6-litre twin-turbo W12
Power: 616bhp
Torque: 800Nm
Acceleration: 0-62 in 4 seconds
Top speed: 205mph
Economy: 19.5mpg
Emissions: 338g/km CO2
Price: £150,000
Score: