Bentley Continental GT Speed hybrid is luxury brand's most powerful road car yet

The convertible could be the finest way to dry your hair

With Bentley having consigned its W12 engine to history, the British luxury car company has introduced a hybrid replacement, debuting in the new Continental GT Speed. But a Toyota Prius this is not.

The new model — the fourth-generation Continental GT, according to Bentley, as it uses 68 per cent new parts — features a plug-in hybrid powertrain based on the Volkswagen Group’s 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine.

That V8 produces up to 584bhp on its own but is accompanied by a 187bhp electric motor mounted within the casing of the eight-speed automatic gearbox for a maximum system output of 771bhp and 738lb ft of torque, making the new Continental GT Speed the most powerful roadgoing Bentley ever built.

A grand tourer with a 208mph top speed

Bentley calls the new GT Speed an “ultra performance hybrid”, and the claimed figures back this up: it is claimed to accelerate from 0-60mph time in 3.1 seconds, on the way to a 208mph top speed.

Bentley Continental GT Speed

The powertrain is set up so that the electric motor fills in the engine’s torque curve, offering consistent performance whatever the gear or revs. However, below 87mph the new GT Speed plug-in hybrid can run on electricity alone for up to 50 miles at a time (will be less in the real world), if you don’t use any more than 75 per cent throttle. That means it’s possible to be frugal as well as fast, depending on the driver’s whim.

Energy for the motor is drawn from a battery with a usable capacity of 22kWh, mounted behind the rear axle (to help with a perfect 50:50 weight balance).

With a name such as Continental, you’d expect long-distance driving to be a breeze, and the total range for combined petrol and electric running is a claimed 534 miles.

All the chassis trickery

Emissions are quoted at a tiny 29g/km, which means it’s the most affordable Bentley ever from a tax point of view, though of course drivers hammering the car or not topping up the battery won’#t get anywhere near that figure. Those who can plug in at home (and one would expect most Bentley owners to have off-street parking) will be able to recharge the battery in two and three-quarter hours using an 11kW AC wallbox. Owners may find hotels have suitable charging facilities, too, helping reduce local emissions while on holiday.

While the car can be topped up via a wall socket, there are two energy recovery modes and a battery recharge setting to replenish the battery while on the move, for use later (such as around town or in a fated zero emission zone).

Built on a new electrical architecture, the Continental GT is fitted with a wealth of high-tech safety and chassis features. Air suspension with dual-chamber springs is standard, joined by dual-valve dampers that offer a range of ride quality adjustment between comfort and sportiness.

Bentley Continental GT Speed

At the racier end of the spectrum, there’s a 48-volt anti-roll system for hard cornering, while four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering with torque vectoring (braking of individual wheels to help a car hug apexes) and an electronic limited-slip differential (to distribute torque to individual wheels) should help shrink the big coupé around drivers who want to explore its limits.

To mark the arrival of the new-generation GT, the car’s styling has been revamped. The most obvious change is new single-unit headlights with “eyebrow” daytime running lights. The matrix LED main lamps feature 120 pixels to create a bright beam at night and the detail design of the lamps is intricate.

The rest of the car receives a cleaner look, and there’s a new 22in wheel design and a new colour added at launch called Tourmaline Green, which is a modern — and rather more vivid — interpretation of the company’s classic Bentley green.

Bentley Continental GT Speed

Subtly enhanced looks outside and in

Further back, the oval tail lights incorporate LED points that are meant to simulate the effect of molten lava when illuminated, while a redesigned boot lid is designed to boost downforce without the use of an additional pop-up spoiler.

Meanwhile, the cabin has the usual sumptuous appearance and hand-crafted finish that’s become a familiar Bentley trait. Mulliner will be on hand to create bespoke finishes for deep-pocketed customers, but as standard there’s a new reinterpretation of Bentley’s quilted leather upholstery, and Gravity Grey hide offers a new look for the cabin.

Bentley Continental GT Speed

The 20-way adjustable seats can be had with a Wellness mode that features heating and cooling, plus a postural adjustment mode that will help with comfort on longer trips.

Have it without a roof instead

As well as a new Continental GT Speed, Bentley has also revealed the open-topped GTC Speed. It has the same powertrain and exterior updates as the coupé, while its canvas folding roof can be operated at speeds of up to 30mph, opening in 19 seconds. The 0-60mph time for the GTC is 3.2 seconds, while the top speed is limited to 177mph.

Bentley Continental GTC Speed

Production of the plug-in hybrid Bentley Continental GT Speed and GTC Speed begins in Crewe shortly, with first deliveries due in Q3 of 2024.

Related articles

Latest articles