We caught a glimpse of the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but the details were still a little scattered. Bentley has been planning an official debut of its new flagship performance coupe at the Moscow Motor Show on the 29th of August, but it chose to release the information on this upcoming model a little early.
We just got our hands on the full press release from Bentley and we are rather impressed with what this ultra-luxury car builder has done with this coupe, on the surface. What really matters is what’s down deep inside the cracks and crevices of this super coupe.
With this new information in hand, we are prepared to give you a full look at the upcoming sports coupe a full week before it ever hits the international auto shows. We’ll also pit it against like models – though there are few cars like the GT Speed – and let you know which looks better on paper.
Click past the jump to read our full review on the 2013 Continental GT Speed.
The outside of the Continental GT Speed does a great job combining Bentley class with “Get outta my way” aggressiveness. The elegant shapes of the Continental GT Speed are derived from the standard Bentley DNA, including the dual-circle front lights, bulging wheel wells, and classic Bentley grille. The grilles on this new GT Speed are not the typical chrome plated, as they have a dark tint. The lower grille and air intakes pay a tribute to the Le Mans-winning Bentleys from the 1920s and cap off the front appearance of this luxury sports coupe.
The Continental GT Speed screams “stay out of my path” by the way of its short-for-a-Bentley hood, shallow-raked front fascia and windshield, and its fastback rear end. Its side profile is far and away the most telling of this car’s speed-greedy personality, as it sits right on the border of the sports car realm without quite crossing over into that area. This is a balancing act that requires great care in craftsmanship.
Bentley used advanced super-forming technology to create the fenders, which is a system that uses high heat and pressurized air, as opposed to hard molds, to create the shapes. This gives the body a fluid and flawless look that is unrivaled. The entire body is formed from aerospace-grade 5083 aluminum alloy.
The signature fat fenders are filled by 9.5J x 21-inch ten twin-spoke rims. You can rest assured that Bentley took care of you with the rims, as these are exclusive to the 2013 GT Speed. The rims are available in a smorgasbord of color options, ranging from bright paint to dark finishes.
The rear of the 2013 GT Speed features a set of rifled exhaust tips that are integrated with the rear bumper. Helping add to that sexy rear end is a chrome border around each taillight lens.
For buyers that just don’t think a Bentley is good enough as is, you can now opt for a “Classic Pack,” which adds in carbon-fiber front bumper grille strakes, a front splitter, side sill extension blades, and a rear bumper diffuser. This package also includes carbon-fiber mirror cowls and 21-inch “Elegant” wheels in a black finish.
You can get the GT Speed in the standard 17 colors available on any Continental model, but you can also opt for about 100 additional paint options. You can even go as far as sending the car to Bentley’s Bespoke department for some custom work, which Bentley put on display at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours.
On the inside, Bentley again toed that fine line between luxury and sport. The designers at the boutique automaker definitely knocked this one out of the ballpark. You’ll be sitting on some of the softest and most supple cow’s hide while you whip this big coupe `round back roads. Polished veneer inserts and cool-touch metals just polish off the amazing attention to detail put into the GT Speed.
The 2013 GT Speed will come standard with Bentley’s Mulliner Driving Specification. This typically optional addition includes diamond-quilted perforated leather seats, door trims, and rear quarter panels. Indented leather rests above your head, affixed to the headliner and you can even opt for embroidered “Bentley” insignias on the seats.
On the dashboard, you will notice a plethora of overlapping circles. These are officially known as “engine spin” and has roots in the “Old Number One,” which is the Speed Six that earned two Le Mans 24 Hour titles. You can get this “engine spin” feature in a bright aluminum or in dark-tint aluminum, which matches up perfectly to the dark tint on the front grilles, tying the inside and outside together.
There are 17 different colors to choose from on the inside. On the 2013 GT Speed, you can also opt for dual-color splits. You can also get contrasting stitching throughout the entire car, even the steering wheel.
Oh, Bentley just didn’t load up the interior with beautiful leather and metal trim, it also packed the GT Speed with an array of technological features. First thing you’ll notice is that there is an all-new 8-inch touchscreen on the bottom of the center stack, which displays the GT Speed’s audio system, telephone, ride settings, and navigation information. Also new is a 30 GB on-board infotainment system with DVD- or hard-drive-based satellite navigation.
The standard sound system in the GT Speed will be an 8-speaker variant with Balance Mode Radiator technology – an advancement that combines the low-frequency performance of traditional speakers with the wider directivity, shallow profile and sound quality of a flat-panel speaker. It boasts unique flat-panel speakers that pump out supremely clear audio across the full spectrum of sound. An 11-speaker Naim system is an optional feature on the GT Speed.
There are multiple music-storage mediums for the GT Speed. You can opt to connect your iPod straight to the GT Speed’s stereo system, put CDs in the CD changer, insert an SD card, or load up to 15 GB of music directly onto the car’s hard drive.
Technology was never an area that Bentley fell short on, but they definitely added more to the pot with these additions.
At the heart of the new Continental GT Speed, Bentley has put in an updated version of the company’s 6-liter, 48-valve, four-cam, twin turbocharged W12 engine. In the new model, this engine delivers a total of 616 HP at 6000 rpm and a peak torque of 590 lbs-ft. This amount of power is enough to deliver supercar performance numbers: a 0 to 60 mph sprint in 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 205 mph (329 km/h).
The engine is mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission featuring intelligent adaptive control software to ensure the perfect combination of speed and refinement. This new system also helps lower the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by about 12%. The new GT Speed is also offered with a permanent all-wheel drive system, employing a central Torsen differential that ensures huge levels of grip and stability whatever the road or weather conditions.
Fuel and Emissions
The W-12 engine under the GT Speed’s hood is not only powerful, but relatively clean and efficient. It gets a very respectable combined 19.5 mpg. It’s CO2 emissions are rather acceptable too, at 338 g/km. Both of those numbers are really not something you are too concerned about if you are considering a Bentley, but they can give you piece of mind.
The GT Speed has to again find that healthy balance between sporty and comfortable when dealing with its handling and it looks as if Bentley achieved this. The GT Speed retains its basis suspension setup from last year – aluminum double-wishbone front and trapezoidal multilink rear – but there is one revision. This revision is to its air-springs and damper, which give it better agility and control, as it limits pitch, roll, and heave.
The GT Speed’s self-leveling system is always keeping a close eye on the ride height and dampers, and makes adjustments as needed. Bentley engineers also dropped the ride height of the GT Speed 10 mm (0.393 inches) to help lower its center of gravity. Stiffer suspension bushings translate a little more road feel to the cabin without compromising comfort – a tall task to achieve.
The electronic stability control (ESC) was revised to work more efficiently with the new engine management system. It also carries over the “Dynamic” mode from the last rendition of the GT Speed, allowing for a little more tire smoldering, if you please.
The Bentley is propelled via an all-wheel-drive system that helps enhance its handling capabilities. Keeping an AWD car in a good steering line is a common complaint and Bentley addressed this by tuning the AWD system to allow 60 percent of the engine’s power to the rear wheels. This eliminates the understeer issues that haunt AWD cars, while allowing the driver to better control the GT Speed via throttle feathering.
The GT Speed comes standard with disc brakes all around, of course. The front rotors measure 405 mm (15.94 inches) in diameter and are ventilated, and the ventilated rear rotors measure 335 mm (13.19inches). Squeezing the pads onto these discs are cast-iron 8-piston calipers. You can opt for additional braking performance by opting for the 420 mm (16.53-inch) rotors on the front and 356 mm (14.01-inch) rotors on the rear. These optional rotors are cross drilled carbon silicon-carbide (CSiC) and save 20 kg (44 lbs) over the standard brakes. To boot, these CSiC do not fade with heat and Bentley claims that they will last the life of the car under normal driving conditions and double brake pad life.
Bentley definitely went above and beyond to make sure that this 5,115-pound GT Speed handles and stops like a sports car.
Pricing and Availability
Deliveries for the new Bentley Continental GT Speed will begin in October 2012. Prices will begin at $220,725, which includes a $2,725 destination charge and a $3,000 gas-guzzler tax.
Carbon Ceramic Brakes
Naim Audio System w/11 speakers
Hand-threaded stitching on seats
Liquid-Metal Exterior Paint Finish
When people say Bentley, others automatically think of Rolls Royce as being the obvious competitor. Still, in this case, we couldn’t find a Rolls Royce model that delivers the same level of performance. The previous generation took on models like the Aston Martin DBS, so it would be a logical assumption that the new Vanquish would be a direct competitor for the new GT Speed. The fact that these two models were launched on the same day was no accident!
Expect the Vanquish to have a sportier appearance when compared to the GT Speed, even if it only delivers a total of 565 HP to go up to a top speed of 186 mph.
Impressive power level
Great performance numbers
Looks very good
FULL SPECIFICATION DETAILS OF THE CONTINENTAL GT SPEED, BENTLEY’S NEW PERFORMANCE FLAGSHIP
Full technical details of Bentley’s new performance flagship
Fastest production Bentley ever, 205 mph (330 km/h) top speed
Exhilarating supercar performance from uprated 625 PS (616bhp) W12 engine and eight-speed transmission
575 PS (567 bhp) GT and GTC also receive eight-speed transmission
12% improvement in fuel economy and CO2 emissions for GT W12
(Crewe, England. 22 August 2012). Bentley is releasing full technical details of its exciting new 205 mph (330 km/h) all-wheel drive performance flagship ahead of its official international show debut at the Moscow Motor Show on 29 August. The new Continental GT Speed is the fastest road-car Bentley has ever produced and orders are being taken now, with deliveries scheduled to start in October 2012.
Powered by Bentley’s iconic 6-litre twin-turbo W12 engine, the GT Speed develops 625 PS (616 bhp) at 6000 rev/min – up 50 PS versus the standard Continental GT - with 800 Nm (590 lb.ft) of torque available from 2000 to 5000 rev/min (up 100 Nm) for instantly accessible high performance. Coupled with a new ZF eight-speed close-ratio automatic transmission and state-of-the-art engine management software, the GT Speed despatches the zero-to-sixty sprint in 4.0 seconds (0-100 km/h in 4.2s), reaching 100 mph (160 km/h) from a standing start in just 9.0 seconds. In-gear acceleration is equally breath-taking.
In the Bentley Speed tradition, outstanding performance is matched by an enhanced chassis with up-rated springs, anti-roll bars and bushes, a lowered ride height (by 10mm front and rear) together with re-tuning of the electronically controlled damping and steering systems.
However, this newest, most powerful addition to the Continental stable still displays the refinement and suppleness that makes a Bentley unique. Even the exhaust note, deeper and more exhilarating under hard acceleration, remains civilised and refined during high-speed cruising.
Its all-wheel-drive system, biased 60:40 in favour of the rear, offers reassuring stability and the potential to access the prodigious performance all year round in virtually any weather conditions or road surface.
Subtle signature design cues distinguish the GT Speed from its stable-mates, including exclusive 21-inch, ten-spoke alloy wheels, dark-tint matrix to the radiator shell and lower bumper grilles and ‘rifled’ exhaust tailpipes. Inside the handcrafted cabin, the Speed models are specified exclusively with the Mulliner Driving Specification, featuring quilted, perforated leather and bright metal detailing plus a broader choice of optional technical finishes. This now includes the exclusive-to-Speed dark tint aluminium as well as carbon fibre. The result is a highly distinctive, contemporary, sporting, luxury coupe.
The 575 PS (567 bhp) W12 powertrain of the Continental GT coupe and GTC convertible models also benefits from enhancements made to the more powerful GT Speed. In addition to the new engine management system and eight-speed transmission, all W12 engines now feature an energy recuperation system. Together, these deliver a 12% improvement in fuel economy and CO2 emissions across the GT W12 range and a 10% improvement for the GTC W12.
GT Speed – sophisticated technology for extreme performance
As the fastest production Bentley ever, the new Continental GT Speed reaffirms the legendary W12’s status as an engine of extreme performance. Developing 625 PS (616 bhp) at 6000 rev/min and 800 Nm (590 lb ft) of torque from 2000 rev/min, the twin-turbo, 48-valve, 6.0-litre W12 is now fitted with the very latest ME17 engine management system. Capable of performing 180 million individual calculations per second, the new system delivers enhanced turbocharger control, outstanding torque management and improvements to driveability. In addition, a revised Sport mode provides a sharper throttle with faster response for effortless acceleration at all speeds.
The W12 engine is mated to a ZF eight-speed transmission for the first time. Designed to handle the extreme levels of torque generated by the W12, the transmission cuts acceleration times by ensuring that the engine is always at the ideal speed for peak torque delivery. This state-of-the-art transmission also features “Block Shifting” technology, capable of shifting directly from (for example) 8th gear to 4th gear for instantaneous response and thunderous acceleration.
The combination of the new transmission and the uprated engine results in breath-taking supercar performance. The sprint from 0-60 mph takes just 4.0 seconds (0-100 km/h in 4.2 seconds) and the relentless acceleration continues to a top speed of 205 mph (330 km/h). 0-100 mph is dispatched in a mere 9.0 seconds – a level of performance akin to the previous generation Continental Supersports, and almost a full second quicker than the updated 575 PS Continental GT.
The exhaust system of the new GT Speed has been developed from the free-breathing, low back pressure design first used on the Continental Supersports Ice Speed Record car. The new exhaust produces a sportier, more intense baritone sound under hard acceleration without sacrificing a relaxed, refined and quiet tone during cruising conditions.
Up to 12% efficiency improvement for all two-door Continentals
Powertrain developments have not been restricted to the pursuit of outright performance. Bentley’s engineering team has also focused on enhancing efficiency, and the power and torque increases for the new GT Speed are accompanied by an improvement of up to 12% in fuel economy, range and CO2 emissions across the two-door model range.
The new eight-speed transmission delivers six per cent of the total efficiency gain. The eight close-ratios ensure that the engine operates in its most efficient range during relaxed driving, while the very latest software developments ensure that gear changes are both fast and imperceptibly smooth.
The new transmission, together with the ME17 engine management system, is fitted to the standard Continental GT and GTC models from now.
The W12 engine features recuperation for the first time, delivering a 1.6 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions alone. Recuperation is a technology involving precise control of the vehicle’s electrical system and alternator to allow flexible generation of electricity. The output of the alternator is increased during low engine load conditions, for example when decelerating, with the excess electrical energy stored in the car’s battery. When the engine is then under load, the alternator output is reduced, increasing overall engine efficiency while the battery provides the previously stored energy to compensate.
Reflecting the improvements in efficiency, the Continental GT and GT Speed now feature a combined cycle fuel economy of 19.5 mpg (14.5 litres/100km) and CO2 emissions of 338 g/km (subject to certification) – outstanding figures for a 12-cylinder grand tourer. Meanwhile, the GTC has a combined cycle fuel economy of 19.0 mpg (14.9 litres/100km) and CO2 emissions of 347 g/km.
The efficiency improvements also benefit the performance of the standard GT and GTC models. The standard 575 PS GT now takes just 4.3 seconds to accelerate from zero to 60 mph (0-100 km/h in 4.5s) with 100 mph (160 km/h) reached in 9.8 seconds from a standstill. The performance of the Continental GTC is equally exhilarating – 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds (0-100 km/h in 4.7s) and 0-100 mph (and 0-160 km/h) in 10.3 seconds.
GT Speed – lowered, uprated suspension for agility, comfort and refinement
The new Continental GT Speed features significant changes to both chassis hardware and software for a sporty, engaging drive that matches the formidable powertrain. Aluminium double wishbone front suspension and a trapezoidal multi-link rear setup are retained, but now feature revised air suspension springs and dampers for improved agility and body control, with roll, pitch and heave all reduced for a more agile driving experience.
The self-levelling system constantly monitors ride height and damping according to road conditions, and positions the car with a ride height 10mm lower than the standard Continental GT. Bentley’s chassis engineers have also fitted stiffer suspension bushes for sharp, communicative handling and uprated anti-roll bars to optimise the handling balance.
Software changes are also wide-ranging, combining to use the revised suspension hardware to deliver an exciting but refined experience. Steering and suspension control systems receive revised calibrations.
Sophisticated stability control, optimised for driver involvement
The Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system has been optimised to work perfectly in tune with the new ME17 engine management system for outstanding driving performance. The ESC system retains the “Dynamic Mode” setting that allows increased wheel slip at higher speeds, with engine torque reinstated more quickly after a system intervention. Together, these systems give the spirited driver more opportunity to exploit the full potential of the new chassis setup and higher power output. Steering feel and feedback to the driver are both improved, while careful tuning of the Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system means minimal degradation in ride comfort despite the uprating of the suspension components.
Outstanding stopping power across the Continental range
In line with the standard Continental models, the new GT Speed is fitted with 405 mm diameter front and 335 mm rear ventilated, cast iron brake discs and eight-piston callipers as standard for outstanding stopping power. The boundaries of braking performance can be further extended by specifying 420 mm front / 356 mm rear cross-drilled Carbon Silicon-Carbide (CSiC) discs as a cost option. Providing a 20 kg weight saving over the standard brakes, the fade-free CSiC discs last the lifetime of the car under normal driving conditions, while brake pad life is doubled. ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Hydraulic Brake Assistance, Drag Torque Control and aquaplane detection are all fitted as standard.
All-wheel drive – a performance car for all seasons
For all Continental models, the new eight-speed transmission feeds the famous Bentley wave of torque to a permanent all-wheel-drive system which retains the 60% rear / 40% front torque split first introduced on the Supersports. Allowing the spirited driver to control the car’s line and balance using the throttle, the rear-biased torque split minimises understeer during hard cornering and varies torque between the front and rear axles for optimum grip. Meanwhile, the all-wheel drive system provides reassuring grip and traction in all road and weather conditions.
Sculpted coachwork with signature Speed design cues
The iconic Continental GT has a form that expresses the same balance of power and elegance, exhilaration and endurance that is provided by its exceptional powertrain. The classic Bentley DNA is evident through the sensual powerline that runs the length of the car, meeting the sculpted rear haunch.
Advanced superforming technology uses high temperatures and pressurised air to shape the front fenders into exquisite, unbroken curves in extremely durable aerospace-grade 5083 aluminium alloy. The latest body construction techniques deliver crisply defined feature lines and form to every area of the exterior design. The flowing lines and curves – inspired by the original 1950s R-Type Continental – create highly distinct surfaces, bringing the feel of a truly coachbuilt car to the Continental family.
For the GT Speed, these elegant shapes are enhanced with a suite of signature design cues. A new 9.5J x 21” ten twin-spoke wheel design is exclusive to GT Speed, available in bright painted or dark tint finishes, and fitted with 275/35 ZR21 tyres. Dark tint radiator matrix and front bumper grilles enhance the air intakes that pay homage to the Le Mans winning Bentleys of the 1920s to give the front of the new GT Speed a more aggressive, sporting look.
At the rear of the car, new rifled exhaust tailpipes are fitted exclusively to GT Speed and are complemented by chrome rear lamp bezels that are also introduced on Continental GT and GTC models. Also fitted as standard to all 6.0 litre Continental models are new W12 badges located below the muscular power line on the front fenders. Beneath the bonnet, the twin turbocharged intake manifolds of the Speed model are uniquely powder-coated with a black finish. GT Speed treadplates complete the set of exterior design cues.
Mulliner Styling Specification in polished carbon fibre
All two-door Continental models may also be specified with the striking Mulliner Styling Specification package option. Available as a dealer-fit accessory, the “Classic Pack” comprises a range of styling features finished in carbon fibre that accentuate the car’s iconic shape, including:
Front bumper grille strakes
Side sill extension blades
Rear bumper diffuser
Complementary features include carbon fibre door mirror cowls, the finishing of the standard rear spoiler in carbon fibre and the fitment of the -*21” “Elegant” wheels in a unique black finish.
As well as the 17 exterior paint finishes available as standard to the Continental models, a range of almost 100 additional paint options is available including solid, metallic, pearlescent and satin finishes. Further extending the art-of-the-possible, Bentley’s specialist paint team can also create bespoke exterior colours to precisely match customer requirements.
GT Speed - distinctive, hand-crafted, contemporary, sporting luxury cabin
Despite the GT Speed’s sporting overtones, this grand tourer retains a hand-crafted interior created using only the finest natural materials. Soft, supple leathers, polished veneers and cool-touch metals combine with the meticulous craftsmanship for which Bentley is renowned to provide a cabin of exceptional quality.
As standard, the new GT Speed is specified with Bentley’s luxurious yet sporting Mulliner Driving Specification, which features diamond-quilted, perforated leather hides to all four seats, door trims and rear quarter panels. The cabin headlining is finished in indented leather hide, while optional embroidered Bentley emblems can be specified for the headrests.
The sports gear lever has a classic knurled finish, while the driver uses drilled alloy sports foot pedals. The unique Bentley “Jewel” filler cap is provided as standard, as are Dark Stained Burr Walnut or Piano Black veneers.
With its gleaming, geometrically precise overlapping circles, engine-turned aluminium – also known as ‘engine spin’ – has indelible associations with Bentley sporting success. The dashboard of ‘Old Number One’ – the Speed Six that won two Le Mans 24 Hour races – is crafted from the same material. With such a pedigree it’s natural that Bentley offers two engine spin options for the fascia and consoles – one in Bright Aluminium and the other, unique to the Continental GT Speed, in Dark Tint Aluminium. Its understated shade perfectly complements the dark tint chrome radiator and bumper grilles.
Alternatively, the more recent Bentley Le Mans success is reflected in choosing the Carbon Fibre option for fascia, roof and centre consoles, its satin finish specially developed to reduce unwelcome reflections.
Seventeen different hide colours are available and as with the rest of the Continental family, the interior of the GT Speed can be specified with duo-tone colour splits, including one split previously exclusive to GT V8. Contrast stitching throughout, including to the steering wheel, is also available.
ADVANCED INFOTAINMENT TECHNOLOGY
A new feature of the advanced 8-inch touchscreen, 30GB on-board Infotainment system is the addition of satellite navigation “Personal Points of Interest”. This allows the user to save places of their choosing (e.g. a specific restaurant) into the system.
The touchscreen displays the car’s audio system, telephone, ride and comfort settings and navigation information, which uses both the hard-disc drive and a DVD player to access route data.
An eight-speaker sound system is offered as standard employing the latest Balanced Mode Radiator technology. These unique compact, flat-panel speakers provide exceptional clarity across the audible spectrum and a very wide frequency range. The 11-speaker Naim for Bentley system – created exclusively by British audiophiles Naim – is available across the Continental range.
Music can be played and controlled directly from an iPod® as well as from a six-disc CD changer, SD card reader or directly from the car’s hard-disc drive, which can store up to 15GB of music. DAB digital radio is also available in regions where the infrastructure supports it.