2008 Bentley Continental GT Speed: Refinements Bring 600HP
Stunning Coupe Finds Enhancements for 2008
Bentley was among the notable brands bucking the green trend at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show with the 600HP Bentley Continental GT Speed, based on the 552HP Continental GT and also serving as our introduction to minor changes to the GT for the 2008 model year. In these days of extreme environmental concern, the extra power comes with steady improvements to both fuel economy and emissions. Five years on from its September 2002 Paris introduction, the Continental GT is still breathtaking. The 2008MY updates are mostly under this near-flawless metal skin.
The updated range gets a new top model, for those preferring an even more spirited drive than the GT very capably offers, in the Continental GT Speed. The GT Speed, so named in homage to special Bentleys developed in the 1920s, takes tweaks to the shared 6.0L twin-turbo W12 engine to deliver 600HP to create Bentley’s first 200-plus-mph production car. The GT Speed’s 600HP may be the most inspiring result of this year’s engine modifications, but several apply to both models. The engine, whether GT or GT Speed, gets a new crankcase design, more efficient catalyst and exhaust systems, lighter-weight single chain drive camshaft, and a new engine management system and faster response cam sensor. The GT Speed also takes lighter-weight con rods, new pistons with anodized compression ring grooves, and a recalibrated version of the new engine management system.
Supporting the extra capacity and spirited nature, the GT Speed chassis setup is tuned for more aggressive driving and improved agility. Ride height is lowered, wheels are wider twenty-inchers, ceramic brakes are available, and there are uprated spring/damper settings and anti-roll bars, retuned speed-sensitive Servotronic steering, and stiffer rear bushings. All Continental GTs get updated ESP, but the GT Speed has a dynamic mode with a “more progressive” intervention while the GT gets a Sport Traction mode. The GT changes to low-friction dampers for a smoother ride on rough roads; the GT Speed’s ride quality is said to be similar to the 2007 GT.
The fuel penalty of having the power to get to 60mph in 4.3 seconds for the GT Speed or 4.6 seconds for the GT is 10mpg city and 17mpg highway EPA rating, numbers both improved over 2007. Carbon dioxide emissions, expressed in grams per kilometer, are 396g/km. While improved over last year’s 410g/km, the number is dramatic compared with the 115g/km that the 109HP diesel-powered Ford Focus ECOnetic boasted. Of course, the GT and GT Speed are rolling works of art and not good-looking toasters.
In the looks department, minor changes mostly apply to both models. Along with a more vertical grille with more square edges and chromed bezels around the headlamps, there is an all-new lower bumper with a wider central air intake. The GT Speed gets the same grille and bumper, but with a dark-tinted chrome matrix grille in the main and lower air intakes. Being Bentley, bright chromed grilles can be specified at no cost. In the rear, the GT Speed takes a black lower bumper valance to hold wider, rifled exhaust tailpipes. The GT Speed also gets multi-spoke twenty-inch wheels, available with a dark chromed finish.
Aside from new features, the interior is unchanged. The GT Speed is standard with the Mulliner Driving Specification trim and its diamond-quilted hide seats, three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, and drilled alloy foot pedals. The word “Speed” only appears as a logo on the sill plates. New or updated features for the range include a revised Bluetooth system with more memory and improved, more intuitive functionality and a new optional rear-view camera parking assist.
With such a gorgeous exterior and sumptuous interior, a color palette that includes sixteen exterior and seventeen interior standard colors available (and the ability to special order nearly any color in any rainbow), and power and authority to spare, it’s difficult to criticize poor fuel economy or emissions. They are on par with similar models, continually being improved, and there simply is no room for thinking of such things behind the wheel of automotive beauty like this.