Bentley Motors blends tech and coachbuilding in the 2022 Continental GT Speed

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bentley motors stand Make the best of the old world and the modern era. For more than a century, the automaker has been at the forefront of automotive luxury and performance, and while it has continuously adapted to change through the years, the classic, tactile coach building has always remained as part of its ethos.

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This romanticized view of automotive manufacturing seems almost at odds with our current level of technological advancement and the demands of the modern luxury consumer.

If Bentley has mastered anything, it’s keeping up with the times while sticking to classic hits. The best example of this is the 2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed, a powerful two-door grand tourer unlike any other car on the road today.

Nuts and bolts

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image credit: alex kalogiani

The Bentley Continental GT is the two-door sibling of the four-door Bentley Continental Flying Spur sedan. Although they share many elements, the GT is much more than half the version of the larger car, and differentiates itself in design and performance, among other factors.

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The centerpiece of the GT is the 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine, a massive power unit with a unique exterior in this age of shrinking (or really missing) engines. This signature system churns out 650 horsepower for speed, which is a bump up to 24 hp from the standard Conti GT W12. It puts out an impressive 664 pound-feet of torque and is sent through a dual-clutch eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Power is sent through all four wheels while an advanced chassis system harnesses it.

Mike Sayer, Head of Product Communications, Bentley Motors Ltd. told Nerdshala, “Our chassis engineers have an incredible array of technology at their disposal, giving the car a real duality in ride and handling, and the use of Drive Dynamics Control. controlled by the driver.” Nerdshala. “To diversify the chassis, we use three-chamber air springs, which allow for three different spring stiffness. In Sport mode, one chamber is used in each air spring, which is the higher spring. Provides stiffness. In comfort, solenoid valves bring all three chambers into play, while providing a soft spring, at low pressure. We then add the Bentley Dynamic Ride – our 48V electric anti-roll control.”

This iteration of the Speed ​​brings some new technology to the GT for the first time, most notably an electronic rear differential and rear-wheel steering.

As for the E-Diff, it distributes torque in the rear angle to give balance and control during turn-in while driving sportily. Rear-wheel steering was first applied to the Flying Spur to provide the full-size luxury four-door with a tighter turning radius as well as increased stability at speed. At GT Speed, this means making sharp turns to the two-door and is far more active than the sedan on this car.

All told, the 5,000-pound-plus GT can sprint to 208 mph, slamming the line in just 3.5 seconds, without the cruise ship’s worth of luxury a few cars struggle to achieve. Does matter.

Bentley Sprinkles in Tech

Bentley-Continental GT Speed

image credit: alex kalogiani

Within the Continental GT Speed ​​is a carefully designed interior that has been a signature element of Bentley vehicles.

A great deal of car assembly is done by hand, and while there is some automated work, there are very few elements that go unnoticed by a master craftsman. The interior is filled with premium leather and genuine wood surfaces that range from bur walnut to the rare, naturally fallen redwood.

The seat elements and steering wheel are all hand-stitched, and the heavy metal switches are made with diamond-pattern knurling.

“The knurling to be used on the main rotary controls took 18 months to develop, and involved the creation of an algorithm that accurately described how the knobs were angled,” said Sayer. Said, highlighting the degree of focus given on every detail. , This ornate, meticulously constructed interior is the setting for a high level of modern technology, and yet it is extremely well integrated.

Bentley Continental GT Speed

image credit: alex kalogiani

A 12.3-inch touchscreen can be found at the center of the dashboard, just as a modern luxury car buyer would expect, and it performs normal functions. It is the source of navigation and entertainment, as well as the interface for many vehicle functions. Drivers can customize their preferred throttle and steering settings, extend the suspension for a few inches of extra clearance and access the full driver’s manual if needed.

It is paired with an all-digital gauge cluster that can also be customized to mirror the same information displayed on the touchscreen. There is even a heat based night vision option that highlights the area in front of the car for better driving at night. The system also has integrated pedestrian detection, so anyone you encounter at night is highlighted by a red box.

The high-resolution screen features graphics to jot down their juxtaposition against all the tangible craftsmanship.

“The design of the graphics of those gauges was subject to the same attention to detail as the physical components,” Sayer said. “In addition, our ethos includes maintaining physical, haptic buttons and rotary controls in lieu of multiple touchscreens.”

If this is still too much technology to bear, the screen collapses into the panel and is replaced with three analog gauges; A clock, compass and air temperature monitor. A touch of in-car gadgetry theater? Perhaps, but another way of looking at it is to protect the interior of a vehicle in a way that is futuristic. Aesthetically speaking, the rest of the cabin will age much better than the display, and having a method of preventing it from being seen fits the sociable nature of this luxury grand tourer.

UX

Bentley Continental GT Speed

image credit: alex kalogiani

The GT Speed’s wheel seating may be a bit shiny at first due to the shiny chrome and polished veneer, but it’s quick to demonstrate how the driver centered it, from the moment of ignition.

Helps like a heads-up display and traffic sign recognition are on hand to improve situational awareness, and on longer trips, lane assist and adaptive cruise control relieve some of the burden. Convenient, though the GT Speed ​​is most rewarding when fully engaged.

The W12 engine makes a smoky and loud noise when its note pops out from the rear of the exhaust. Stepping on the throttle feels like accelerating single-engined fighter planes and the GT Speed ​​seems to share a lineage. As for the similarities, because everything beyond is far from archaic. Power delivery is smoothly powerful, and there are plenty of ways to go before any drop-off is experienced, though reaching that point requires a length of unrestricted highway.

In that respect, the GT Speed ​​mirrors the Flying Spur in that it feels heavy and frozen like a steam engine, and when it’s time to take a sharp corner, it hesitates a lot. However, gather some faith and bravery, and the GT Speed ​​is surprisingly maneuverable.

The car is at its best in those moments when a winding road presents itself. Its size and weight are still clear, but the technology active in the game allows Bentley to round corners with confidence. The joy wanes when things get increasingly challenging, and all the physics-warfare engineering isn’t capable of disguising car theft. It is in those moments where you make a mental note to return with something smaller and more playful.

Whether it’s in sport or leisure, the speed at which the GT’s dual-clutch transmission fires through gears is nearly seamless, giving enthusiastic drivers the power they need and giving people a touch more serenity . On the highway or as a daily driver, the GT Speed ​​isn’t a foot wrong, making the $274,000-plus price tag feel worth it. One would hope, at least.

claimant

From a competitive standpoint, the GT Speed ​​largely stands on its own, not because of its lack of sporty luxury coupes, but because of how uniquely it executes a single mission. Segment giants BMW and Mercedes-Benz can’t exactly match the level of elegance and exclusivity offered by Bentley, so anything equally dynamic will fall short. In terms of handling and power, the AMG S63 Coupe comes close and comes in at a relatively low starting price ($173,100), but although it’s in the same weight category, the Continental GT Speed ​​just does it better.

For a true contender who is not too far away, the Rolls Royce Wraith is the closest match. Beyond its equally steep luxury pedigree and exclusivity, the Wraith sports its own whopper of a power unit, a 624-horsepower 6.6-liter V12. This two-door grand tourer has a similarly priced $300,000 price tag and can pull off the same tricks as the GT Speed ​​in terms of acceleration and cruising smoothness.

Like anything, the future is uncertain as to how Bentley plans to continue this amalgamation of old and new. As the past has proven, it is planning ahead.

“First, the product range will be hybridized – we have already launched hybrid versions of the Bentayga and Flying Spur, and the Continental family will follow. We will then launch the first Bentley BEV in 2025, before Bentley by 2030 Go electric-only brand,” Sayer said.

For now, we still have the Bentley Continental GT Speed, a near-unethical luxury powerhouse that sets the standard in its segment while marching to the beat of its own thumping 12-cylinder engine. This is the culmination of Bentley’s dogged rearing of what they do best, despite being flexible enough to bend with the winds of change.

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