EDITOR WES RAYNAL: With AWD and these big ol’ Dunlop winter tires, this 2015 Bentley Continental GT Speed coupe is a snowmobile -- a really fast, expensive snowmobile. Heated seats and steering wheel, of course: Absolutely perfect in this weather. A car I’d drive every day? Sure, why not.
What we have here is Bentley’s fastest-ever production car. With 626 hp, it should be. Bentley says 60 mph arrives in 4.0 seconds. I can’t verify that, what with the snowy roads and all, but I have no reason to doubt it.
Thank the massive twin-turbo W12 for that. Its power/torque is delivered in a smooth, no-hiccup rush. The thing weighs a lot, so the Conti drives nothing like a sports car -- it simply feels too heavy in corners. That’s no complaint -- there’s nothing wrong with an extraordinarily comfortable effortless grand tourer and the GT is definitely that; and it’s one I’d happily drive to LA. This afternoon.
I’d be happy in this car all day in part because this is simply one of the nicest interiors on the market. Everything that looks like metal is metal and the leather is real leather. It’s all superbly finished and well screwed together. The seats are terrific. It really is remarkable in there.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Yes, the interior is gorgeous and every surface is covered with leather or metal. And, yes, it’s got 6.0-liters, two-turbos and 12 cylinders providing a ridiculous amount of thrust. But you wanna know a secret?
The Bentley Continental GT V8 is a ton more fun. Shhh.
Of course, this 2015 Bentley Continental GT Speed coupe has more presence, what with the subtle “Speed” scripts on the front fenders and embroidered into the headrests. And if you’re showing off at the country club, those hints that you dropped a cool quarter-mil on your Bentley coupe may be worth the heavier driving dynamics. It’s not that the GT Speed is slow, of course -- it just feels like the W12 was shoehorned into this car and it upset all the other, more endearing traits. The Conti V8 loves to play, while the W12 GT Speed seems fussier and more serious -- though probably more capable on a high-speed circuit, too.
Our tester had one inexplicable flaw: Pedal placement. The huge, drilled metal brake pedal is so close to the accelerator that any shoe other than a Puma either rubs on the brake or the transmission tunnel (or, in most cases, both). I had the GT Speed on a snowy weekend, and driving the car with winter boots on was nearly impossible. A smaller hiking boot was equally useless; I eventually found a loafer in the closet that let me drive the car smoothly -- for the record, I don’t have unusually large or wide feet, nor have I ever had this much trouble with pedal interference; since the Conti GT Speed is an automatic-equipped car, there’s neither an engineering nor a sport driving reason the brake pedal couldn’t be pushed another inch to the left.
Wes called it on the snow capabilities of the GT Speed, too: Thanks to its hefty curb weight and AWD system, this big luxury coupe is completely at home in winter weather, the only potential limitation being ground clearance.
Thing is, you can get roughly the same interior trimmings, AWD system and gorgeous lines for less money and have more fun in the V8, and you can drive that car with shoes on.
Then again, there’s no such thing as a bad Bentley Continental; your priorities will dictate your selection, and your selection is guaranteed to be extraordinary.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR RORY CARROLL: Though it’s hard for me to separate the Bentley Continental GT from its long list of gross celebrity owners, it really is a good car when you judge it on its merits. It’s big and comfortable, imposing and in its own way, attractive. It’s built for highways and long weekends, even if a lot of them probably end up valet-parked at nightclubs that offer expensive bottle service.
Somehow, the 626-hp, twin-turbocharged 6.0 liter W12 in the Continental GT Speed coupe seemed a little less immediate than the 528-hp 4.0-liter V8 in the last Continental V8 GT S we had in the fleet, but a look at the specs suggests that’s at least mostly in my head. The W12 isn’t substantially heavier than the V8, and it does pack nearly 100 additional horses, so to speak. Then again, it might be down to tuning.
The Bentley was as unbothered by the snowy, icy weather as anything I’ve driven this winter. The combination of good winter tires and a well-sorted traction/stability control system was enough to make me feel very comfortable behind the wheel. That said, if I was making the payments, I’d have a hard time with the idea of flopping my snowy, salty boots in and out of the thing. Though, I guess if I was capable of making the payments, I probably wouldn’t be exposing myself to a lot of snow and road salt.
In Bentley Speed tradition, outstanding performance is matched by an enhanced chassis with upgraded springs, anti-roll bars and bushes, and steering systems.PHOTO BY BENTLEY
Options: Naim for Bentley premium audio system ($7,455); light sapphire paint ($5,600); contrast stitching to diamond quilted areas ($1,070); ventilated front seats with massage function ($1,050); hide trimmed gear paddles ($725); boot carpet ($555); heated, single tone, 3 spoke, hide trimmed steering wheel ($490); deep pile overmats to front and rear ($415),
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