There’s one thing eerie but serene about driving by Joshua Tree National Park within the desert a couple of hours east of Los Angeles. It’s huge and quiet, and other than the occasional work truck or tourist-driven crossover, the gorgeous roads are sometimes empty and supply a few of the greatest views within the nation. It’s a mixture of mountains and valleys, sand and bizarre greenery, all with a layer of warmth shimmer added on prime. As I quietly cruise previous rows of lovely cacti with my pals within the automotive and the home windows down, it is easy to neglect that I’m in a $346,260 Bentley with 650 horsepower.To merely consider the 2022 Continental GT Speed, which lays declare to being Bentley’s quickest and extra luxurious automotive ever (a minimum of till the Speed-based Mulliner W12 comes out), I might’ve simply caught to its pure habitat of swanky Beverly Hills only a few miles from my residence — however that would not be practically as enjoyable. Beyond simply the surroundings being unbelievable, the desert roads round Joshua Tree are spectacular, too, completely clean with a mixture of meandering sweepers, lengthy straights and tight corners. My weekend journey seems to be the proper journey with the Speed, which — shock, shock — is phenomenal.The Speed’s twin-turbo 6.0-liter W12 engine has been boosted by 24 hp in comparison with the conventional W12-powered Continental, whereas torque stays the identical at 664 pound-feet. Not too shabby. Bentley additionally gave the Speed’s eight-speed dual-clutch automated transmission faster shifts, the engine and transmission have new calibration for a broader powerband, and the exhaust system is louder on startup and extra characterful when downshifting.
The desert is spooky at evening. Maxx Shostak/CNETThe Continental shares its launch-control system with Porsche, which is without doubt one of the best to make use of and some of the intense to expertise. Hold the brake along with your left foot and stomp the gasoline along with your proper foot, and the Speed revs to 5,500 rpm. Press your head and physique towards the seat — you do not need to get whiplash — launch the brake, and the automotive leaps ahead with ferocity. There’s barely a chirp from the tires because the Bentley reaches 60 mph in underneath 3.5 seconds, and it’ll do it time and again and over. Absurd acceleration is obtainable in each gear and at any velocity, simply faucet the throttle and all of a sudden you are the king of the passing lane. Speed is an apt descriptor for this automotive, particularly because it’ll hit a v-max of 208 mph, however its precise sense of velocity is a bit off. The Continental is so cosseting and straightforward to drive quick that I’m consistently checking my speedometer to ensure I’m not deep in triple digits. The Speed moniker describes excess of simply straight-line efficiency. Despite weighing greater than 5,000 kilos, this Continental completely hustles by corners because of quite a lot of Speed-specific upgrades. New for the Speed are an digital limited-slip differential, rear-wheel steering that turns the again wheels as much as 4 levels and a tweaked all-wheel-drive system that may ship as much as 93% of torque to simply the rear wheels. The Speed additionally comes commonplace with Bentley’s three-chamber air suspension, adaptive dampers and 48-volt energetic anti-roll system. The suspension has a max journey peak mode that is equally pretty much as good for entering into steep driveways as it’s for navigating distant filth roads whenever you take a pair improper turns. Ask me how I do know.
The Continental GT Speed pulls like a freight prepare. Matthew Groner/CNETFurther serving to the Speed disguise its weight can be found 22-inch wheels carrying Pirelli P Zero summer time tires, sized 275/35 up entrance and 315/30 in again. My take a look at automotive additionally has the non-obligatory carbon-ceramic brake setup, that are the most important brakes on sale. The 17.3-inch entrance discs are clamped by 10-piston calipers, whereas the rear discs measure 16.1 inches and have 4-piston calipers. Bentley says the ceramics save 73 kilos in contrast with the usual brakes, and there is not one of the squeaking usually related to carbon-ceramic brakes on highway vehicles, however the brakes generally is a bit exhausting to modulate easily.All of this provides as much as create a very astonishing performer. The Speed’s steering is gentle and sharper than a standard Continental’s, there’s just about no physique roll or dive underneath braking and people large tires present seemingly infinite grip. Linking tight, advanced corners collectively is easy, and the Speed by no means loses its composure. That doesn’t suggest this large coupe cannot be playful, although. In Sport mode the Speed’s retuned stability management permits for elevated quantities of slip, and you may flip all of it the best way off in the event you dare. It’s straightforward to attain managed slides within the Speed, and this large coupe is critically satisfying to throw right into a nook.
Normally I am going with pink ambient lighting, however… Ryan Greger/CNETOnly the true Bentley heads on the market will discover the Speed’s styling variations in comparison with a standard Continental GT, and my automotive’s spec is about as refined as a Bentley can get. The Speed has turbine-like wheel designs, darker grille finishes, new facet skirts and a few Speed badges — and that is it. My take a look at automotive provides on a $12,245 carbon-fiber styling bundle with extra splitter and diffuser components, however with the blacked-out trim and deep Midnight Emerald paint, this Speed flies underneath the radar. Personally, I’d go for a brilliant purple colour with chrome grille mesh, a pink inside and knurled aluminum trim, however I like to face out. At least this Continental has an fascinating matching inside. The Speed is obtainable with a large number of three-tone colour schemes that blend diamond-quilted leather-based and luxe Alcantara, and this one has Cumbrian inexperienced and Portland gray upholstery accented by cream stripes and trim. The commonplace piano black dashboard end is fairly tame, however there’s greater than sufficient brightwork and ambient lighting to maintain the cabin fascinating. The Continental’s extremely adjustable seats have therapeutic massage features and are supremely snug, and the again seat is spacious sufficient that my pals did not complain a single time. That air suspension soaks up any highway imperfections, and the one audible perturbances that attain the cabin is a little bit of noise from the tires. It’s an expertise worthy of the cost, other than the Porsche-derived infotainment tech that is now a pair generations outdated.By the time my weekend within the desert is over and I’ve luxuriously wafted again to LA, the Speed has averaged 18 mpg over practically 600 miles, 3 mpg higher than the EPA’s mixed determine — and that features many full-throttle launches and, ahem, velocity. It’ll simply beat the 20-mpg freeway estimate, too, because of a cylinder deactivation system that shuts down half the engine. Sure, the Continental’s large tank and California’s all the time absurd gasoline costs result in large winces from my face and my pockets each time I refill, but it surely’s nonetheless way more environment friendly and useable as a road-trip automotive than I anticipated.
The elements to an ideal weekend. Matthew Groner/CNETThere are a pair issues that throw a little bit of a wrench within the Speed’s enchantment: Namely, different Continental GT fashions. The new Continental GT S comes with the Speed’s great suspension setup (although it misses out on the Speed’s different efficiency bits), and its 542-hp twin-turbo V8 engine is extra satisfying to wring out and sounds even higher than the Speed’s W12. Even a base V8 Continental is sort of pretty much as good to drive as this Speed, and it prices virtually $100Ok lower than the Speed’s $280,225 beginning value. No one is basically nook carving in a Continental GT anyway although it is enjoyable as hell to take action, and the Speed’s straight-line efficiency is simply half a second faster than the V8’s, which isn’t sufficient to be that noticeable. But on the finish of the day, I nonetheless actually need the Speed. It’s a lesson in making extra work even when it is pointless. The Speed-specific chassis upgrades actually do make a distinction — its efficiency is mind-boggling it doesn’t matter what sort of driving you are doing, but the Speed is equally good at being calm and cozy round city or on an extended drive. I am unable to consider one other high-end automotive on sale that has the identical breadth of capacity, other than Bentley’s personal Flying Spur sedan. When you are taking part in within the realm of $200,000 vehicles, individuals need the very best of the very best, and the Bentley Continental GT Speed is simply that.My largest takeaway from this Joshua Tree getaway is that superluxury grand touring vehicles just like the Bentley Continental GT Speed are a few of the most compelling candidates for going absolutely electrical. As a lot as I might miss the W12’s drama and engineering, a equally highly effective EV powertrain would enhance the Bentley’s driving expertise in mainly each manner. Noise apart, the W12’s energy supply is so clean and easy that it already feels akin to an EV, and going electrical would make the Continental even quieter and comfier. Bentley’s first manufacturing EV will probably be out by the top of the last decade, and I say convey it on.
This Green 2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Is Queen of the Desert
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