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First Drive: 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed

Autobahn Worthy

by on Jan.03, 2013

Tearing up the Autobahn at triple-digit speeds.

It was a scene I did not expect, but should have given the prodigious performance of the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed.  Not satisfied with the mere 198 mph top speed of the “base” Continental GT, Bentley’s team of engineers, led by the effervescent Brian Gush, massaged the potent twin-turbo W12 engine in the GT Speed to output 616 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. Top speed after the upgrades: 205 mph.

We were encouraged by the Bentley media team to safely explore the upper limits of this beast, keeping in mind that our primary test route, the famous Autobahn network of highways across Germany, did have some sections with well-enforced speed limits.

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My driving partner and I were a bit late as we approached our departure from scenic Bavaria, Germany, as we had taken a bit too much time shooting video of the new GT Speed during our lunch stop.  So to make our international flight back home, we bypassed the route chosen by Bentley and tried typing the direct destination into the car’s GPS.


Bentley Unveils its Fastest Production Model Ever

Pulls wraps off next-gen Continental GT Speed.

by on Jun.20, 2012

Bentley will provide a first look at the Continental GT Speed at the upcoming Goodwood Festival.

Inspired by the original “Speed” models that helped put the brand on the map in the 1920s, Bentley is launching an all-new version of its Continental GT Speed which the maker claims will be its fastest production model ever.

Set for an officials introduction in October, the modern-day Speed is the latest incarnation off Bentley’s new Continental platform, and features an up-rated version of the maker’s 6.0-liter, 48-valve, twin-turbocharged W-12 engine.  Delivering 616 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, it will readily blow the hefty beast through the 200 mph barrier.

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Despite the introduction of an all-new V-8, demand remains strong for Bentley’s distinctive W-12 – so much so it is the world’s largest producer of 12-cylinder engines, notes Chairman ad CEO Wolfgang Durheimer, adding that, “The new GT Speed with its harder-edged, sportier character reaffirms this pinnacle positioning and continues to broaden the worldwide appeal of the Continental coupe.”


First Look: 2012 Bentley Continental GTC

Power to the (very wealthy) people.

by on Aug.24, 2011

Bentley bills the 2012 Continental GTC as a "super car you can use every day."

There are plenty of big changes underway at Bentley, as recently reported, with the maker preparing a new SUV, developing a plug-in hybrid and beginning work on a diesel – but that doesn’t mean the British luxury marque has forgotten its more mainstream offerings.  Quite the opposite, as it reveals the second generation of its Continental GTC convertible.

It’s part of a dramatic update of the entire Bentley line-up, in fact, that began with the introduction of the all-new Mulsanne flagship, and last year’s redesign of the smaller but critical Continental GT sports coupe.

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We got our first look at the new cabriolet during a private showing at last weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, “no better place in the world,” for the unveiling, suggested Wolfgang Durheimer, the new Bentley CEO and the man leading the big changes planned for the brand.


Bentley Planning Ultra-Luxury SUV

Third model line could also get a new hybrid or diesel.

by on Aug.22, 2011

Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen (right) hands over the keys to his successor as Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer.

Bentley, the classic British luxury carmaker, wants to add a sport-utility vehicle to its line-up, a move it predicts could yield a 50% increase in demand over its all-time sales record, the maker’s chief executive told

The new model could come as a surprise to those who expect to see Bentley stick with classic luxury designers, like the big Mulsanne and smaller Continental lines, “But I think people will adapt to the shock,” as they have when other brands like Porsche have introduced SUVs to their line-up, said Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer, during a pair of exclusive interviews at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance over the weekend.

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Durheimer should know.  In his previous incarnation as the top engineer at Porsche he led the development of the Cayenne, that sport-ute now the top-seller in the German maker’s line-up.  When initially told of the project, said Durheimer, Porsche dealers, “warned us it’s dangerous, but five years later we doubled the size of the company.”

Targets for the Bentley SUV aren’t quite as aggressive, but the maker still hopes to boost global sales to 15,000 a year with the new ute, compared with the previous all-time high of about 10,000.


Shake-Up At Bentley

Paefgen retiring, Durheimer to lead luxury maker as it struggles to regain momentum.

by on Nov.29, 2010

In with the new car, out with the old CEO. Franz-Josef Paefgen poses with the second-generation Bentley Continental GT.

In the midst of a major new product roll-out, Bentley is about to undergo a major shake-up in its management team, as well.

Long-time CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen will retire, with Wolfgang Durheimer slotted in as his replacement next February.

The executive shift comes as Bentley is in the midst of re-doing its entire line-up.  The British marque’s aging flagship sedan, the Arnage, was recently replaced by an all-new model, the $285,000 Mulsanne.  Next up is an all-new version of the Continental line-up, Bentley’s volume mainstay.  The sporty Continental GT replacement made its debut, last month, at the Paris Motor Show.

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The original Continental was a transformative model for Bentley, which was purchased by Volkswagen AG a little more than a decade ago.  Launched during Paefgen’s 8-year tenure as CEO, it generated sales numbers never before seen in the ultra-premium luxury market.  Immediately prior to the 2008 global economic meltdown, Bentley sales soared to more than 10,000 a year, with the various Continental spin-offs, including the GT coupe, Flying Spur sedan and GTC convertible accounting for 90% of that volume.


First Look: 2011 Bentley Continental GT

Familiar yet different.

by on Sep.07, 2010

All-new? The look of the next-generation Bentley Continental GT is familiar.

Things move at a different pace in Coventry, the headquarters for Bentley Motors.  Change comes slowly and deliberately, but come it must, as the maker has lately been demonstrating.

Soon after the introduction of the all-new Bentley flagship, the big Mulsanne saloon car, the Volkswagen AG subsidiary is pulling the wraps off an updated version of its best-selling Continental GT.  But any sense of déjà vu is understandable.  Despite what the maker claims are some significant technical enhancements – the use of advanced body production systems, a new FlexFuel W12 powertrain and an updated infotainment system – the overall look is very much in line with the outgoing version of the luxury coupe.

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The launch of the next-generation Bentley Continental GT couldn’t come at a more crucial time.  The British maker scored an impressive hit with the original coupe and the numerous Continental variants  that followed – such as the GTC convertible and Flying Spur sedan – the brand’s overall volume soaring to more than 10,000 cars a year.


Who’s The World’s Fastest? Bentley and Bugatti Lay Claims

Speed still matters, it seems, in a world going green.

by on Jul.08, 2010

For those who need to shortern their daily commute, there's the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.

In a world going green – while trying, anyway – speed still seems to matter, as well.  But who’s the fastest?  Bugatti and Bentley are both laying claims.

Anyone who has seen the record books from the Bonneville Salt Flats knows that the record book can be carved up in nearly as many ways as baseball and football have parsed their stats.  But the two European makers lay claims to top speed numbers that nonetheless deserve mention.

When it comes to unadulterated, flat out, foot-to-the-floor performance, it seems that the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport has set the new benchmark, achieving a new land speed world record for a production vehicle.  The folks from Guinness World Records have certified the number at 431 kmh, or 268 mph, along with representatives of the German Technical Inspection Agency, otherwise known as TUV.

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The record was set on June 26th, Bugatti reveals, at the Volkswagen Group’s proving ground in Ehra-Lessien, not far from VW’s headquarters in Wolfsburg.  Bugatti pilot Pierre Henry Raphanel made the run in a striking red-and block stock version of the Veyron Super Sport.  Its 16-cylinder engine produces 1,200 horsepower (up from 1,001 for the original Veyron) and 885 pound-feet of torque.  The engine is mated to a twin-clutch 7-speed gearbox and power is channeled to an intelligent all-wheel-drive system.