First Drive: Bentley Continental GT Speed

Jay Nagley

When the Bentley Continental GT first appeared, I was not completely overwhelmed. It was hugely fast and completely dependable (unlike previous generations of Bentleys, whose reliability was not always in proportion to their price), but it felt a bit too similar to a VW Phaeton for a £120,000 GT.

Hence, when the GT Speed arrived in our office, I was not knocking people over in my rush to get to the keys. However, when I did take it out, I have to admit to being converted. The Speed adds a layer of visual drama to the basic car – especially inside with the quilted leather sports seats. It also raises the level of performance from "excellent" to "rocketship": even 2350kg cannot blunt the effect of 600bhp and 553lb/ft of torque.

However, the most surprising change is how much more dynamic the car feels. Nothing this heavy is ever going to handle like a Lotus, but it changes direction with real alacrity. For the first time, the Bentley does disguise its sheer bulk and can be driven as a (very large) sports car, rather than just aimed at a straight piece of road.