The Need for Speed

Bentley’s new Continental GT Speed is a 208-mph love poem to its mighty 12-cylinder engine

2022 Continental GT Speed front

To quote the comedic thespian Will Ferrell from his 2006 NASCAR-themed cinematic romp Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, “America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, badass speed.”

Talladega also gave the world a few other equally illuminating, speed-focused Ferrell observations, including “If you ain’t first, you’re last,” along with the pointed, go-for-it refrain of “Shake and bake.”

Crush the throttle on Bentley’s newest speed demon, the 2022 Continental GT Speed, feel the thrust of its 650-horsepower twin-turbo 12-cylinder, and you too will have the urge to shout “Shake and bake!” But quietly please; it tends to scare passengers.

2022 Continental GT Speed front driving

Bentley proudly boasts that this latest all-wheel-drive GT Speed is the most dynamic road car in its more than 100-year history. The accolade for the speediest Bentley, however, still goes to the limited-run 2017 Continental Supersports, which had a reported top speed of 209 mph.

2022 Continental GT Speed front seatsBy comparison, this newest hunk of burning British muscle can reach 208 mph. It can also catapult from zero to 60 mph in a mere 3.5 seconds, which is seriously impressive for a four-seat grand touring coupe that weighs about as much as a Peterbilt.

What’s special about this latest GT Speed is the new componentry that allows it to sweep around corners at mind-warping velocities—and with the kind of precision the old Supersports could only dream of. Add to that Bentley’s first application of an electronic limited-slip rear differential, which does a great job of distributing all that towering power to the rear wheel with the most grip. It’s a big deal when you’re hurtling around a slippery freeway on-ramp 50 miles faster than you should be.

2022 Continental GT Speed profile driving

When it comes time to stop in a hurry, the Speed has the largest front brakes currently fitted to a production car. The setup includes carbon ceramic rotors the size of manhole covers (17.3 inches to be precise) and 10-piston calipers to do the clamping.

2022 Continental GT Speed dashboard 1But the headline act here is still that astonishing 6.0-liter 12-cylinder. Packing 650 hp—that’s 24 more than the regular GT—it’s the last hurrah for this petroleum-imbibing tour de force. Bentley’s switch to all-electric and hybrid power by 2026 means the W12 is probably not long for this world. Enjoy it while you can, but be mindful of the speedometer—holding onto your driver’s license is one of the challenges of shaking and baking in this rocket ship.

Much of the GT Speed’s considerable appeal comes down to its remarkable duality. Yes, it’s searingly fast in a straight line and through the twisty bits. But it’s also refined, smooth, and serene for those times when you don’t want to play Mario Andretti. Select comfort mode and the air suspension will hoover up lumps and bumps like Mr. Brawny on kitchen spills, while the dual-clutch 8-speed automatic shifts with the silky smoothness of a hot knife through warm butter.

2022 Continental GT Speed rear driving

From behind the wheel, it’s Bentley uber-luxury as usual. Diamond-quilted leather with suede-like Alcantara center panels covered the seats of our test car. Plus, the high-gloss carbon fiber veneer on the dash, red accent leather trim, and chrome “Speed” badging are all gorgeous.

As for pricing, this new GT Speed coupe, which is also available as a convertible, kicks off at right around $275,000. Start loading on the carbon brakes, the Naim sound system, and the rotating instrument display, and you’re looking at well over $300,000. But now that Rolls-Royce has stopped offering its Wraith coupe and Dawn droptop in the U.S., there’s really nothing that can compare with this exquisite, hard-charging Bentley. Shake and bake, indeed.

Power File:

Price: From $275,000

Engine: 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12

Power: 650 hp

Torque: 664 lb-ft

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

0-60: 3.5 seconds

Top Speed: 208 mph

Length/Width: 191/86 inches

Weight: 5,200 pounds (est.)

Why we love it: Because it combines speed with style and true bespoke luxury.

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