Celebrity Bentley Continental GT owners are facing the most delicious of dilemmas. Do they stick with their dream machine or upgrade it to the new GT Speed version?
Starting at £180,000, and available as a coupe or convertible, the range-topping Speed is billed as the most dynamic road car in Bentley's history.
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A quick search through social media and Google reveals some of the Continental GT's star owners - past and present - including Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, Kim Kardashian, Nicole Scherzinger, Jay-Z, Robert Downey Jr, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mark Wahlberg and Sylvester Stallone.
The new Bentley Continental GT Speed
It's also a favourite with sportspeople as varied as athlete Mo Farah, tennis champ Serena Williams and soccer superstars including Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Mo Salah.
The Speed is the most potent version of the Continental GT so far, offering a more muscular stance and sporty look, combined with several changes hidden from view.
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Sicily's varied mix of roads provided a basic introduction to the luxury Grand Tourer, but Bentley also wanted us to experience the full potential and remarkable agility of this big car.
The solution was to turn a deserted Cold War military base and self-contained town near Comiso, in the north-west of Italy’s biggest island, into an exciting street circuit.
We tested the car on a deserted Cold War military base
There we could sample the new additions including four-wheel steering and an electronic limited-slip differential - a first for Bentley.
The optional carbon-ceramic brakes, featuring epic 440mm diameter front discs (claimed to be the largest fitted to any road car) also came in useful because the Speed needs serious stopping power (its top speed is 208mph).
Powered by Bentley's mighty 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 engine, now delivering 650bhp (up 24bhp on a regular GT), it can also sprint from 0-60mph in just 3.6 seconds.
These advances, plus some subtle software tweaks, give the Speed GT a new dynamic dimension when driven, especially in Sport drive mode.
The exterior of the car has a stylish, sporty feel
And this is where Comiso came in. Closed to the public, Bentley's "street course" allowed us to unleash the Bentley Continental GT Speed's playful side.
The new kit, combined with Bentley's Dynamic Ride electric active roll control system, delivers the stability you need when tackling the most dramatic of corners in everyday driving.
In Sport mode, it's as blisteringly fast as ever, but power delivery and gear selection are now super responsive. From a handling point of view, it’s more composed on challenging stretches of road, but you can still have fun. In other words, it is possible to lose the rear end!
Externally, the GT Speed is distinguished by its sports styling, dark matrix grille, unique forged 22-inch wheels and 'Speed' badging.
The interior of the car is just as stunning
Inside, there's a delicate balance of traditional and cutting-edge technology. Highlights include a mix of handcrafted leather and Alcantara upholstery with diamond quilting and specially embroidered 'Speed' headrests.
The personalisation options are endless, meaning that final cars are likely to cost at least £200,000. For instance, there's a choice of 15 main and 11 secondary interior hide colours.
Goodies including Active Lane Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Night Vision and a Head Up Display, plus all the safety features you'd expect from a car in this class.
Oh, and a special mention for the awesome ‘Naim for Bentley’ sound system, which delivers a class-leading 2200W of power channelled through 18 speakers and two 'shakers'.
HELLO!'s verdict: Serene, effortlessly fast and athletic, the new Bentley Continental GT Speed is the ultimate modern Grand Tourer – a glorious mix of handcrafted opulence, stunning performance and driver engagement. Price: from £180,000.
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