The crew from Crewe, England, is upping the performance ante of its sportiest offering for the coming year with the introduction of the automaker's fastest-ever production model: the 2013 Bentley Continental Speed GT. With a maximum velocity of 205 mph, this high-power/low-profile coupe narrowly edges the limited-edition Continental Supersports Convertible ISR by a single mph while matching its blistering 4.0-second 0-62 mph acceleration time.

Appropriately scheduled to make its first public appearance at the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed next month, the new Continental Speed GT gets it motivation from an uprated version of Bentley's 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 tuned to make 616 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque compared to the 567/516 output figures of the engine in the baseline W12-powered Continentals. It's backed by the new 8-speed ZF automatic transmission that's also used in the 2013 V8-powered Continental GT/GTC models. Replacing the 6-speed used previously, this new cog-changer boosts fuel economy by 12 percent and drops CO2 emissions by a similar amount.

Like other Continental variants, the new Speed GT sends that motive force to each corner via a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system equipped with a Torsen center differential. Completing the Speed GT chassis enhancements are sport-tuned steering and a comprehensive suspension revamp that lowers the ride height. Rounding out the mix are Pirelli PZero ultra-high performance tires wrapped around bespoke 21-inch Speed-spec alloy wheels.

To endow it with a proper dose of curbside attitude, the new Continental Speed GT also gets a few well-measured cosmetic tweaks culled from the Mulliner Driving Specification kit introduced on Bentley's flagship Mulsanne sedan. Exterior highlights include a dark-tinted matrix front grille and lower air intakes along with a unique "rifled" treatment on the inside surface of its dual exhaust outlets. The hand-finished cabin blends a number of Speed GT custom detail touches with Mulliner Driving Specification appointments highlighted by super-premium diamond-quilted leather upholstery, drilled alloy pedals, classic "organ pull" ventilation controls and distinctive textures and knurled finishes on the dash and door handles.

In commenting on this latest addition to the formidable Bentley lineup, Wolfgang Dürheimer, Chairman and Chief Executive noted: "For nearly a decade, the Bentley Continental GT has defined high luxury, high performance grand touring and the unique W12 engine has been so successful that Bentley is now the world's largest producer of 12-cylinder engines. 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." Deliveries of the 2013 Bentley Continental Speed GT will start in October, with final U.S. pricing to be released closer to the actual on-sale date.


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