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In the Teamspeed Garage: Bentley Continental GT Speed

  #1  
Old 04-24-2008, 11:02 PM
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In the Teamspeed Garage: Bentley Continental GT Speed



In the Team Speed Garage: 2009 Bentley Continental GT Speed
"A Well Heeled Hot Rod"
By Stuart Schwartzapfel, Teamspeed Contributing Editor

Base MSRP: $199,990
Engine: 6.0L W12 Twin Turbocharged
Power: 600HP, 553 foot-lbs of torque
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic with column mounted paddle shifts
Drive Type: Continuous AWD with Torsen Center Differential
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates [City/Highway]: 10/17 MPG

Fast Fact: Inspiration for the GT Speed came from the ‘Speed’ models that first appeared in 1923 and currently fetch top dollar at classic car auctions like Barrett Jackson and RM.

Hey Speed Freaks.

In this my first post as Team Speed editor, I thought I would bring you all something special to read about and gaze upon. Bentley was nice enough to help out with one brand spanking new, Moroccan Blue Continental GT Speed [the most powerful Bentley ever produced] with 1,600 miles on the odometer. I put about 250 miles on this beautiful beast throughout the tri-state area [NY/NJ/Conn] this past weekend and felt like a cross between Ian Fleming and Jay-Z based on the multitude of reactions I got. Comments ranged from “that’s stunning” to “that’s pimp”. Strapped into the Bentley’s luscious, leather-laden accommodations, with their bank vault-like insulation from the outside world, it is easy to forget that you are actually piloting a nearly 16-foot, 5,180-pound [curb weight] British cruise missile. Long story short, people are going to look your way. Regardless of gender, race, or social status, those who crossed my path were wide-eyed and furiously pointing. Many went as far as to congratulate me, provide two thumbs up and generally raise their voice in excitement. On several occasions, I was asked how many times I had “gotten laid” that day.

Yes, the Continental GT is a wonderful car to drive, sit in, listen to and look at; a real gentleman’s express that could easily shuttle you and a guest to Florida in utter comfort [At 13.1 cubic feet, the trunk, or boot, is big enough for a couple of Goodfellas to store dead bodies in]. But, eh hem, we are talking about the GT Speed, a faster, lighter and more highly contented variant that Bentley tells me is quickly becoming a dominant part of the Continental GT-line sales mix. This is good for Bentley considering that the Speed is roughly $25,000 more than a “base” GT. Hey, if your going to go swimming, you might as well get wet. But let’s not forget the extra goodies you get for all that additional cash. How about 600HP [9% more than the GT] and 553 foot-lbs of twist [15% more than the GT]? Not enough? How about a scoot to 60MPH in just 4.3 seconds and a top speed north of 200MPH.

You might be thinking that the GT Speed’s massive heft downplays its staggering levels of power, but you would be wrong. This GT car plows down the road with serious authority. The power is immediate and aggressive but with a linear progression to it that is as smooth as a swig of Johnny Walker Blue. No Lotus Elise-like whiplash here. Not to downplay the wonderfully raw Elise, but the GT Speed is simply not meant to be that extreme in its driving dynamics. My windows were down 90% of the time so I could more effectively listen to the 2-pipe orchestra belting out music as I mashed the drilled alloy gas pedal. But the GT Speed can do more than just go straight. The chassis has been tuned for improved handling characteristics [lowered ride height, uprated spring/damper settings and uprated anti-roll bars for improved agility and body control]. I noticed that as speed increased, the two-tone leather wrapped steering wheel became tighter in my hands while taking turns. This improved steering response comes from the retuned speed-sensitive Servotronic system, solid-mounted front subframe and stiffer rear bushings.

Enthusiasts can tell the GT Speed apart from the base model thanks in part to its dark-tinted chrome matrix grille to the main and lower air intakes. Whoever optioned out my test car chose to stick with the chrome grille finish, a no-cost option that I would not have chosen for a car with sporting pretensions. At the rear, the Speed is differentiated with a black lower bumper valance and wider, rifled exhaust tailpipes. Wider 9.5J 20-inch wheels and bespoke Pirelli PZero tires are standard on the GT Speed. Opt for the more menacing dark tint on these seriously attractive wheels.

Inside, the GT Speed’s cabin is based on that of the Mulliner Driving Specification (an option on the standard GT). It includes a choice of veneers (Burr Walnut, Dark Stained Burr Walnut and Piano Black), diamond-quilted hide seats with embroidered Bentley emblems on the headrests, indented hide headlining, a sports alloy gearlever, three-spoke multi-function sports steering wheel, drilled alloy foot-pedals as well as ‘Speed’ logos embossed on the treadplates. Overall, the aesthetic modifications made to the Speed are subtle but effective in alluding to all that extra power. Fade-resistant Carbon Ceramic brakes are available, but Bentley says the Continental GT and GT Speed are already equipped with the largest brakes of any production passenger car on sale today. So unless you are planning to frequent the track, save yourself the $16,500 and get your kids some braces.

Put simply, the GT Speed is like a well-heeled hot rod from the other side of the pond. Harder edged than the base model but still brimming with refinement and British goodness. All those great interior aromas, thick hides, deep-pile carpets, supple ride quality and miniscule levels of NVH [Noise Vibration Harshness] with 600HP stuffed under the hood for good measure. This formula has worked wonders for brands like AMG and Jaguar and it works for me.

Until next time.















 
  #2  
Old 04-24-2008, 11:50 PM
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I'm not a big fan of the BGT, but they're really going out with a bang. Dr. Dre lives up the street from me and I see him driving his white Speed often.
 
  #3  
Old 04-25-2008, 12:03 AM
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Damn, thats one sweet color combo. I'd rock that...still waiting for some serious seat time
 
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Old 04-25-2008, 12:11 AM
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What a car thank you for sharing with us your thoughts about this wonderful GT. I've seen a couple on the road lately and I must say it does look aggressive and worth it in comparison to the BGT, which is a very common sight over here. Its more aggressive, faster, the interior looks better and best of all I've heard its limited in quantities.
 
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Old 04-25-2008, 12:36 AM
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Awesome color combo! Nice pics also!
 
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Old 04-25-2008, 01:09 AM
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great write up, and car of course.
we need some more teamspeed reviews in the pipelines too.
 
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Old 04-25-2008, 03:37 AM
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Thanks for the great write up! Nice photos and my oh my what a color combo!
 
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Old 04-25-2008, 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Auto Purveyor View Post
Hey, if your going to go swimming, you might as well get wet.
Oh dear, SteveH and Teut are going to be a bit upset.

I did enjoy the review, welcome aboard and looking forward to your future endeavors.
 
  #9  
Old 04-25-2008, 11:07 AM
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Damn, that's pimp! And stunning! Did the car get you laid?

Welcome Stuart. Great review. Looking forward to reading many more.
 
  #10  
Old 04-25-2008, 11:20 AM
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Hah! That interior reminds me of one I configured the other day, mostly as a joke...


That actually looks much better in reality than I thought it would from the website. Crazy.


How comfortable is the back seat? Can adults sit back there?
 

Last edited by nerual; 04-25-2008 at 11:29 AM.

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