It is very rare that you get a week with the key to the fastest production Bentley every made; the Bentley Continental GT Speed. But when it happens you can’t take it for granted, you clear everything you can out of your calendar and enjoy it. Here are my experiences with the car over the week.
Day 1 – First Impressions
The car was dropped off at my home during the day, but I didn’t get a chance to take a look it at until that evening. With my first look at the car parked on my drive; I was shocked by the presence that the car has. It has the deepest and most pearlescent paint work I have ever seen, and looked prestigious top to bottom. The car is pretty big, but the beautiful curves hide the dimensions well, and give it a sleek aerodynamic feel.
Being the GT Speed, the car sits 10mm lower than the standard car and has those massive 21 inch wheels that were wrapped in performance Dunlop winter tyres. The Bentley looks very high class and you just know it is going to be brutally fast.
Not that I expected any less, but looking at the key for this car it is the ultimate in key design, it is built from top quality materials and weighs more than my wallet. The key is a real piece of work, but you never actually have to use it, just keep it in your pocket. Keyless entry and a start/stop button mean you no longer have to fiddle around with the keys, those days have passed.
Every aspect of the car is a thousand times better than your average car, I would be lying if I was to say I wasn’t over whelmed by it. My mind was blown before even moving a foot. I took 20 minutes just to sit in the car and figure out all of the gadgets and luxuries inside. Then I hit the start button on the W12, my ears pricked up as the sound echoed up and down my road, it was clear this W12 meant serious business. I took the car out for my first drive, I had no idea what I was in for, I will explain more about how it drives later, but you can only imagine what 800Nm of torque under your right foot feels like – it could give you whip lash!
Day 2 – Appreciating the Design
We arranged some studio time with the car at Infinity Digital Imaging to capture the car in a pure environment. Detailing the car beforehand made me really start to appreciate the finer details and shapes on the body work of the car.
After rolling the car into the studio and setting it up in the infinity cove, I let the photographers get to work. The goal was to correctly light the car and show the car off for its design in a pure environment. Even after 2 hours of starring at the car in various light setups I was still noticing new details; and, if I wasn’t before, by the end of the photo shoot I was 100% convinced that this is a tremendously good looking and well-designed car and I couldn’t wait to get it back on the road.
Day 3 – Using the Full Force of the W12
Driving a car like this you need to force yourself to be sensible. The Continental GT Speed has a W12 6.0 litre engine that puts out 616bhp, 800Nm or torque, and will do 205mph, 0-60mph in 4.0seconds, and 0-100mph in 9.0seconds. It is easy to get carried away with the GT Speed. After a few days with the car, and being more relaxed with the size and power of the car, I started to enjoy it more and more.
For those of us that love the sound of engines, you can change the car from drive to sport using the gear lever, and the active exhaust system instantly gets louder and deeper. At full throttle the car makes that much noise you would think the world was ending! It’s such a nice low growl that‘s very addictive. The sound alone certainly turns heads.
I took the car out to test it and just enjoy the driving experience. The acceleration of this car is insane, the W12 has relentless torque, once you have planted your foot the car just keeps going and going. On the roads I have no idea when that hard acceleration starts to slow down, or if it does at all.
The GT Speed on test drive came with the £10,405 carbon ceramic brake option. Even in the wet, the brakes are worth their weight in gold. They give great feedback in the pedal and stop like you wouldn’t imagine. The only real way of describing the brakes is that it is like throwing an anchor out of the window! There is no drama in the stability or control of the car though, you simply stop, and then all your organs push against your ribs. In a 2.3 tonne car that should be impossible.
Day 4 – The Experience of Being a Bentley Owner
On Thursday evening I took the car around to some friends and family to show the Bentley off and gauge people’s opinions of the car. Obviously, people were more than happy to be a passenger in the car, as, at least in my circle of friends, it’s not often you get to ride shotgun in a £186,000 car. There wasn’t a single person that wasn’t shocked by the acceleration of the car, you can literally watch the needle flip on the dashboard – it is that fast. People are fascinated by the lush interior, gadgets, and luxuries, they’re keen to learn every detail of the car and they all want their own picture with the car to remember it. There is no doubt that the GT speed holds the “wow” factor.
Everywhere you drive, people look to see who is driving this top end GT car, and even more people turn their heads if the car is growling by in sport mode. People stop and take pictures while you park, and little kids even wave. People all around you enjoy the car and, if they have the chance, are keen to talk to you about it. It’s an expensive way to make friends, but highly effective.
Day 5 – The Finer Details on the Inside
On the way back from the office on Friday, I got caught in 30 minutes of standstill traffic, which gave me some real time just sitting and observing the interior for its true beauty. With a mixture of carbon fibre, super soft leather, and personalised stitching, the Bentley is at the top of its class when it comes to well designed and modern interiors. It has an ultra-luxurious feel with an unspoken sporting edge.
The technology in the GT is fantastic as well. It has an 8 inch display up front, which is the primary interface for the media centre, it can play DVDs, CDs, DTV, Bluetooth, and DAB, and it even has an integrated hand held mobile phone for the passengers. Needless to say that 30 minutes of standstill traffic was very enjoyable and ended way too quickly for my liking.
The GT Speed uses an 8 speed ZF gearbox which is somehow nice and easy to use in the heavy traffic, and instantaneous when pushing the redline on a fast blast.
Day 6 – Living with the Continental GT Speed
In the morning I took the Bentley out to some quiet roads to capture a spot of video with the car. This was a good opportunity to explore the GT’s handling capabilities on some country roads. I couldn’t find a corner that would even challenge the GT. It felt safe and well planted around every bend even when pushing its limits.
I had loads of fun driving this car, windows down, sport mode on, right foot on the accelerator. The Bentley had loads of grip, firstly because of the winter tyre choice, then greatly assisted with its mechanical setup, and further improved by the electronic stability control on the car. At no point did I feel intimidated driving this big powerful car down the winding lanes, it is extremely well poised and unbelievably controlled for the amount of power it has.
In the afternoon I took the fiancée out to look for a new car for her. It’s not very often you pull up at the Ford showroom with a £186,000 car looking for an economical Fiesta. We got some strange looks and prying questions to say the least, but still, everyone wanted a chance to take a look at the car.
This trip meant that I got to put the Bentley on the motorway and test out the Advanced Cruise Control (ACC). ACC will maintain a cruising speed for the car and keep a set time gap from the car in front; it is sold as a comfort aid, not a safety aid. You turn it on, set your target speed and how many seconds gap you would like to keep behind the car in front and you are away. I went for 70mph and 5 second gap. The Bentley’s ACC picks up the car in front of you and gently slows down and speeds up as required. It is a little bit scary when testing it initially, but once you learn to trust it, it is an awesome feature and makes any motorway trip a lot easier, I’m actually saddened to think that I have to live without it.
Day 7 – One Last Drive in a Millionaire’s Car
Knowing the car was going back the next day and that I would no longer have a millionaire’s car on the drive, I had to take the car out and enjoy it for one last day. We had planned a second photo shoot with the car.
Meeting our two photographers, Ross and Pete, and our tracking car driver on a quiet country road we took several attempts at nailing a perfect tracking shot of the GT Speed, as, for me, the real soul of this car is all about out-right speed. Driving up and down the same bit of road for 30 minutes chasing a 4×4 with photographers hanging out of the back you would think it would get a bit boring. But it was quite the opposite, accelerating from standstill is very impressive and I didn’t tire of it at all.
Summary – I need it in My Life
What a week! I had done around 450 miles, used 2 and half tanks of petrol, taken well over 2000 pictures, captured two hours of video, and discussed elements of the car with 50+ people. I enjoyed the week that much my cheeks are aching from grinning like a Cheshire cat all week driving this brute.
The Bentley Continental GT Speed has elegant beauty, deadly performance and top class luxury, there are very few cars in the world that have this compete package, and I doubt many are as nicely assembled as Bentley Motors’.