Bending the rules…
Vivien Natasen spends a day out with the Bentley GT Speed.
The Bentley Speed is the brand’s fastest production model ever, achieving a claimed top speed of 330km/h. This is achieved through a powerful 626 horsepower twin-turbocharged W12 engine mated with an 8 speed ZF transmission. This monstrous beast propels itself from standing to 100 km/h in 4 seconds, which given its bulk is no easy task.
The exterior of the GT Speed has always been aggressive but the new design changes make the new rocket ship more look more elegant and refined. The body kit is now painted with minor body design amendments that contribute to its distinguished presence.
The Speed title is not a new concept to Bentley with Speed variants dating back to 1925. This car lives up to the standard set by the brand of the Speed moniker setting new benchmarks. Shod with 21-inch alloys, coupled with the all-wheel drive system with a 60:40 bias to the rear, it is as sure footed as a mountain goat.
Bentley chose to showcase this particular vehicle in tough conditions such as snow and mountainous areas, where the robustness and practicality of the design, engine and in fact the whole package comes into its own and its performance and ratings far outstripped many of its competitors. From my discussion with the local dealership in Gauteng, South Africa, it appears that many buyers from other countries in the continent are opting for the Bentley products for this very reason.
One of the things I always look out for in a sports car is the difference between dynamic and normal driving modes. The Bentley never fails to excite the moment the sport modes are activated. With a distinctive change in its exhaust note, in the sportier settings, there is a natural tendency to develop a heavy foot and the W12 is quick to oblige. The deep guttural notes from the mighty 12 potter through twin exhaust pipes are music to any petrolhead ears. The suspension has been significantly enhanced to match the power. Whilst the Speed’s lesser siblings are focused on comfort and supportive rides, the Speed’s suspension is geared towards handling of a proper supercar.
Interior styling is unmistakably Bentley, exuding quality of the materials used to assemble this piece of art. I have had the fortune to visit the factory in Crewe, and seeing how these vehicles are assembled first hand, is an experience in itself. It’s no wonder that more and more owners are visiting the factory to develop their own specification for their car, whilst some of them even then visit during the car’s construction. This kind of practice earns the manufacturers kudos as a proper lifestyle brand.
Back to the interior of the vehicle, the luxury diamond stitching is now a new benchmark in the quality of interior finishes melded with mixes of carbon and other high quality trim finishes. It is a very inviting cabin that doesn’t leave the occupants overwhelmed but comfortable no matter what the driving style is.
The one thing about a Bentley is its sheer presence. On a drive through Gauteng, the car’s persona earns it respect and sometimes envy no matter where we went. The test model was a distinctive new Candy Red with paint colour with a refined black interior, which attracted a lot of attention.
This car occupies a very niche market and I do not refer only to rappers and footballers with too much money to spend. It is a versatile combination of machinery and art that promises its owners a balanced solution of comfortable space for 4 occupants and a handy amount of storage in the boot for those weekend jaunts. Not many competitors can match that. When one brings performance that rivals many in the same price range, then the decision starts to sway in favour of the Bentley.
So whether you are a well-heeled individual looking for a car that is elegant with the performance of a super car and the versatility of a good sedan in the mix, the Bentley GT Speed is a great option. It gets better – the GT Speed also comes in convertible form.