Road Test: Bentley Continental GT Speed
The new Bentley Continental GT Speed has lost nothing of its charm.
Beluga. The name of the leather upholstery evokes a world in which a Bentley transports its driver. The luxury brand is rolling out variants of its core product, the Continental GT Speed. The Speed brings a sportier edge which echoes the competitive heritage of the British manufacturer. Its predecessor had impressed us, we were therefore eager for an opportunity to drive the new version.
The styling of the new Continental GT (on the left) is all about continuity, with subtle changes that preserve the unmistakable identity of the luxury coupe. The outer headlight units have slightly shrunk and migrated outward, thus stretching the profile towards the fenders whose crest-line now veers off toward the hood instead of plunging down. In the center of the bonnet, the fold is now more pronounced, the contour of the air intakes more dramatic, more aggressive. At the rear, the lights still echo the elliptical theme of the exhaust outlets, but the boot profile is more affirmed. Overall dimensions have not changed significantly in length; however the 4.80m coupe gains two centimeters in width and height. There is unfortunately not much change in weight: we measured this car at 2379kg with a full tank of gas – with a 57.3% front 42.7% rear weight balance, just 13kg less than the previous model.
Interior design is also in direct continuity with the previous car, the most noticeable change coming courtesy of a new 8 inch touch screen in the center of the dashboard. It is a significant improvement over the previous unit, all expected functions are available, but the graphical user interface and the available functions are falling short of being state-of-the-art. The rest of the interior is true to Bentley’s high standards, a cocoon of silk smooth leather, deep carpets and discrete chrome accents. Assembly fit and finish are perfect, a visual, tactile and olfactory feast. The carbon and piano black decor would not be my first choice, but it is coherent with the spirit of this more athletic version. Fortunately, there are numerous alternatives in the options catalogue. Overall, the Continental GT Speed is divinely comfortable, luxurious but not ostentatious, simply classy.
In spite of the generous dimensions of the GT, space allotted to the rear passengers is tight for an adult of my height (182cm), both in terms of legroom and headroom. The Bentley is far more hospitable than any 2+2 GT on the market. Nevertheless, whisking a couple of friends down to Monte Carlo for a week-end could be an ambitious undertaking unless the gentlemen reserve the rear seats for their better halves, and said spouses are not framed like norvegian beach-volleyball champions. The 358 liters luggage compartment makes up in depth what it lacks in height.