Is 208 mph speedy enough for you?
To quote that 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.”
Of course, Talladega also gave the world those other, equally illuminating speed-focused Ferrell observations: “If you ain’t first, you’re last” along with that pointed, go-for-it refrain “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, trust me, it’s hard not to shout out “Shake and Bake.” But quietly please; it tends to scare passengers.
Bentley proudly boasts that this latest all-wheel-drive GT Speed is the most dynamic road car in the car maker’s 101-year history. And you’ll hear no arguments here; this is the most agile, most fun-driving, most entertaining Bentley I’ve ever steered.
Performance-wise, this newest hunk of burning British muscle can top 208mph, which is still insanely fast. As in 305-feet-per-second fast.
It can also catapult from zero to 60mph in a mere 3.5 seconds which, again, is seriously impressive for a four-seat, super-luxe grand touring coupe that weighs about as much as a Peterbilt.
But what’s really special about this latest GT Speed is the new componentry that allows it to sweep round corners at mind-warping velocities. Like electronic rear-wheel steering to sharpen high-speed handing.
Add to that Bentley’s first application of an electronic limited-slip rear differential. This does a remarkable 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 at 50mph faster than you should be.
And when it comes time to stop in a hurry, this new Speed boasts the largest front brakes currently fitted to a production car. The setup includes carbon ceramic rotors the size of man-holes covers — 17.3 inches to be precise — and 10-piston calipers to do the clamping. There are Boeing 747s with smaller stoppers.
But the headline act here is still that astonishing 6.0-liter 12-cylinder crammed under the mile-long hood. Packing 650 horsepower — that’s 24 horseys up on the regular GT — it’s the last hurrah for this magnificent, 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.
So enjoy it while you can. Which is exactly what I did in a blissful week of Speed-ing, so to speak. Protecting your driver’s license is definitely one of the challenges of shaking and baking in this sublime rocketship.
Much of the GT Speed’s considerable appeal is due to its remarkable duality. Yes, it’s searingly fast in a straight line and through the twisty bits. But it’s also exquisitely 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, eight-speed automatic shifts with the silky-smoothness of a hot knife through warm butter.
From behind the wheel, it’s Bentley uber-luxury as usual. I adored the diamond-quilted leather with suede-like Alcantara center panels covering the seats of our test car. That, and the high-gloss carbon fiber veneer on the dash, the red accent leather trim and the lovely chrome “Speed” badging. Truly gorgeous.
As for pricing, this new GT Speed coupe — it’s also available as a convertible — kicks off at a few bucks short of $275,000. Start loading on the carbon brakes, the ear-bleeding Naim sound system, and the magical 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 US, there’s really nothing to compare with this exquisite, hard-charging Bentley. Shake and Bake indeed.