The 2023 GT Speed is an explosively fast, ultra-five-diamond automobile with an appropriately corresponding sticker, in this case $385,000 with all options. For your coin, naturally, you ask for the best, and you get the best. Every stitch, every screw, every knob, everything you see and feel all around is hand-built, but that’s just the start.
It comes as a coupe or convertible, with a choice of either a V-8 or V12, both turbocharged. I had the V-12, which could also be called “the furnace.” Time and again on different highways and byways in and outside the county of Los Angeles, I threw it into Sport mode and blissed out at the sound of this machine and its power. My S trim tester arrived to the fleet this year, and it comes with blacked-out exterior trim, a special wheel design, and a sport exhaust system on top of the swank and extras we all expect from this iconic brand.
It’s a cat-like two-door sedan, crouched low, looking as though it’s ready to spring even while parked. ‘Speed’ badging identifies the Bentley DNA stem to stern. A tint has been applied to many of the exterior details that are usually rendered in chrome, adding to the stealthy flavor of its delicious body.
The inside of the Continental GT Speed feels like a well-fitting, high-end suit, and one is overwhelmed with the finery of sight, touch and olfactory goodness. The Speed emblem is emblazoned on the treadplates and the dashboard, and everywhere you look and observe, you see and feel some of the finest crafting money can buy.
You can choose from Bentley’s range of hide and carpet colors and the precision diamond quilting on the doors and the seats is an especially nice touch. Dinamica trim and custom Speed embroidery complete the cockpit, and the graphics in the digital instrument panel are pleasing to the eye.
It’s a good fit up front, not a tight one, especially with the adjustable seats, but the back seat isn’t going to be a pleasant experience for the big and/or tall. My test model fit a guitar, a large suitcase, a small suitcase and a backpack, easy.
Engine and Transmission
My V12 with its 650 horsepower got me from 0-60 in approximately 3.1 seconds, an impressive feat given the vehicle’s 4,296-pound weight. An eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission moves seamlessly through its gears, and brakes stop you instantly when you step on them. The acceleration-handling-braking combo is what makes the GT Speed a pleasure whether you’re just headed to the store, or leaving for a long trip.
You’ve got a 12.3-inch infotainment display planted in the center of your dash, part of a three-sided rotating mechanism including a panel showing three analog gauges indicating time, air temperature and a compass heading. Your third screen shows matching instrument panel trim, creating a seamless look.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come as standard, as do steering wheel-mounted controls. Two optional audio systems are offered – a Bang & Olufsen and a rich-sounding Naim system. The nav sys worked well, no complaints.
It’s politely rumbly and smooth at slow speeds but also a speed demon when need be, with instant responses most notable at higher speeds, when those 12 cylinders roar and spit and rocket you forward.
While I didn’t wind through any mountain roads, entries to freeways saw the car hold its place no matter how fast I was going, and I went fast a lot – you can’t not. Mileage is somewhere near the 20 MPG range city/highway combined. Visibility is satisfactory.
*There is a slight hesitation in the accelerator, especially upon startoffs. It made me question whether I was in gear or not.
*The sound system doesn’t have an equalizer. Rather, it features this odd layout of possible sounds having nothing to do with bass, midrange and treble. A good idea but one that won’t satisfy audiophiles.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and a night vision system are all available – as options, a rather odd phenomenon for a vehicle in this stratospheric price range. But every modern method of keeping driver and passengers safe on the road and in a crash is here, no worries.
Warranty and Maintenance
Bentley’s warranty provides coverage for the vehicle for three years past purchase date, and it doesn’t matter how many miles you put on it. Your first maintenance visit is gratis at 10,000 miles, or one year.
Conclusion: In the world of Bentleys, the Continental GT Speed is positioned squarely at the top, if you’ve got the coin.