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600bhp for new Bentley Continental

600bhp V12 engine for new driver-focused Bentley Continental

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Bentley has released details of a new model inspired by the 1920s, but with more power than any previous model.

Next month, we'll be among the first to get behind the wheel of the updated Continental GT. Bentley's 'facelift' is mild enough, with a few aesthetic tweaks, new colours and slight modifications to the chassis, but it's the W12 engine that receives the most attention, especially the new 600bhp version found under the bonnet of the new Continental GT Speed model.

Named after the highly sought after 1923 3-litre 'Speed Model', Bentley has endowed the new version with dynamics that will appeal to the keener driver. Where as the regular GT features new, more comfortable dampers, the Speed model's ride height is lower and the springs, dampers and anti-roll bars are all uprated, with the target being tighter body control and improved agility. To complement those chassis modifications, Pirelli has developed a 20-inch version of its high-performance P-Zero tyre for the GT Speed, though Bentley expects some drivers of the new model to slide the car around and has consequently allowed a new 'Dynamic' mode to the ESP system, which is said to be less intrusive.

The four-wheel drive hardware has its work cut out, even dealing with the standard car's (unchanged) 552bhp, but it is partly to thank for the 0-60mph time of 4.6 seconds. The Speed model uses its 553lb.ft of torque to better that time by 0.3 seconds and is the first Bentley to crack the magic 200mph mark (though its sibling manages an 'adequate' 198mph...).

A significant amount of work has been done on the engine to improve its efficiency, resulting in a modest reduction of the carbon dioxide emissions to 396g/km, though that figure still won't make owners instant friends of the Green Party... Fuel consumption is marginally better than before too. Not that we expect potential buyers to worry about that too much.

Not when they're spending a minimum of £120,000 to gain entry to the Continental GT club in the first place and that's before they look at the mouth watering Mulliner Driving Specification options.