In 2003, the year we reviewed the first Bentley Continental GT, Dave Brailsford took over as performance director of British Cycling, where he became known for the phrase, “the aggregation of marginal gains.” He explained the working philosophy to the BBC as breaking down every aspect of riding a bicycle—from pedals to the best pillows for the best sleep—and improving each aspect 1 percent to achieve a significant cumulative improvement.
The shepherds of the Bentley Continental GT have mastered marginal gains, punctuated by the occasional leap. When we reviewed the first GT Speed in 2008, it weighed 5180 pounds, made 600 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque from a 6.0-liter twin-turbo W-12 engine, reached 60 mph in four seconds, and could hit a claimed 202 mph. Thirteen years later, the 2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed weighs a claimed 5011 pounds, makes 650 horsepower and 664 pound-feet from an updated 6.0-liter twin-turbo W-12, launches from a standstill to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, and runs out of steam at 208 mph.
The design or performance of other cars may have evolved further or faster, but if any automaker knows what it has, it’s Bentley. The formula worked in 2003, and as we discovered in Sicily behind the wheel of the newest Continental GT Speed, it works just as well today.
The third-gen Continental made a leap in looks, turning the previous model’s enforcer physique into that of a pentathlete. To create the Speed—which is available as a coupe or a convertible—24 more horses joined the W-12’s corral, then Bentley’s wardrobe department put a dark finish on the grilles, added a carbon-fiber splitter, reshaped the side sills, and fit a unique set of 22-inch wheels. Marginal, indeed. For the full story, check out this article from Car And Driver.