If you want 12 cylinders, then you've got to spring for the Speed.
Not only is the Bentley Continental GT the most accessible non-SUV model available from the brand, but it also fulfills a dual role within the Bentley stable, being affordable on one end of the scale, and being a performance halo for the brand in the case of the Bentley Continental GT Speed.
In case you missed out on the details of the Speed, it uses the GT's W12, dials up outputs by 24 horsepower to 650 hp overall, and broadens the torque curve to occupy more than half of the available rev range. Then, the chassis gets active anti-roll bars, rear-axle steering, and a torque-vectoring rear differential that will apportion almost all of the 664 lb-ft of torque to either of the rear wheels. But all of that comes at a price as the Speed is more than $50,000 dearer than the regular W12 was.
We say 'was' because you can no longer buy a regular Continental GT with a W12 engine. That's right, from the 2022 model year, if you want 12 cylinders, you need to spring for the big daddy of the range.
CarBuzz spotted the omission of the standard W12 from the Bentley website, and after reaching out to Bentley, the discontinuation of the standard model was confirmed. A Bentley representative told us that “GT Speed and GT Speed Convertible are the only way to get a Continental with the W12 for 22MY.”
If we're entirely honest, the news isn't exactly surprising. Despite the huge improvements made to the chassis of the Speed, the enhanced turbochargers only yield 24 hp extra and no torque benefit. The 0-60 mph sprint has only been cut by a tenth of a second, now at 3.5 seconds for the coupe and 3.6 seconds for the convertible. The Speed doesn't rewrite the rulebook in a way that necessitates keeping two W12-powered derivatives around, and if given the choice between the two, we'd always pick the Speed. The performance benefits are hugely impressive, and yet it doesn't compromise any of the comfort or luxury associated with the Continental GT.
For 2022, the Continental range will still comprise of three models with two body styles available for all three, coupe and convertible. The GT V8 and GT Mulliner are both powered by the same 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 542 hp and 568 lb-ft. The two are differentiated in style and luxury, with the Mulliner being a more bespoke creation with design elements like a Double Diamond matrix grille and fender vents, satin silver detailing, and 22-inch trim-specific wheels with self-righting Bentley badges. Inside, luxurious appointments include diamond-in-diamond quilting that takes 18 months to complete and requires 400,000 stitches. The Continental GT Speed will now take its place at the head of the lineup, with the first US deliveries taking place this fall. The coupe is priced from $274,900 while the convertible has a price tag of $302,400.
Bentley assures us that before the Bentley brand changes over to hybrid and electric vehicles only from 2026, the W12 will be looked after. It remains a popular engine with Bentley customers, and the brand will invest heavily to ensure efficient technologies are an integral part of the engine.