There’s one thing eerie but serene about driving by Joshua Tree Nationwide Park within the desert a number of hours east of Los Angeles. It is huge and quiet, and other than the occasional work truck or tourist-driven crossover, the beautiful roads are usually empty and supply a few of the finest views within the nation. It is a mixture of mountains and valleys, sand and peculiar greenery, all with a layer of warmth shimmer added on prime. As I quietly cruise previous rows of gorgeous cacti with my buddies within the automobile and the home windows down, it is easy to overlook that I am in a $346,260 Bentley with 650 horsepower.
To easily consider the 2022 Continental GT Velocity, which lays declare to being Bentley’s quickest and extra luxurious automobile ever (at the least till the Velocity-based Mulliner W12 comes out), I might’ve simply caught to its pure habitat of swanky Beverly Hills only a few miles from my condo — however that would not be almost as enjoyable. Past simply the surroundings being unimaginable, the desert roads round Joshua Tree are spectacular, too, completely clean with a mixture of meandering sweepers, lengthy straights and tight corners. My weekend journey seems to be the proper journey with the Velocity, which — shock, shock — is phenomenal.
The Velocity’s twin-turbo 6.0-liter W12 engine has been boosted by 24 hp in comparison with the traditional W12-powered Continental, whereas torque stays the identical at 664 pound-feet. Not too shabby. Bentley additionally gave the Velocity’s eight-speed dual-clutch automated transmission faster shifts, the engine and transmission have new calibration for a broader powerband, and the exhaust system is louder on startup and extra characterful when downshifting.
The Continental shares its launch-control system with Porsche, which is without doubt one of the best to make use of and one of the vital intense to expertise. Maintain the brake together with your left foot and stomp the fuel together with your proper foot, and the Velocity revs to five,500 rpm. Press your head and physique towards the seat — you do not need to get whiplash — launch the brake, and the automobile leaps ahead with ferocity. There’s barely a chirp from the tires because the Bentley reaches 60 mph in underneath 3.5 seconds, and it’ll do it time and again and over. Absurd acceleration is accessible in each gear and at any velocity, simply faucet the throttle and immediately you are the king of the passing lane. Velocity is an apt descriptor for this automobile, particularly because it’ll hit a v-max of 208 mph, however its precise sense of velocity is a bit off. The Continental is so cosseting and simple to drive quick that I am continually checking my speedometer to ensure I am not deep in triple digits.
The Velocity moniker describes excess of simply straight-line efficiency. Regardless of weighing greater than 5,000 kilos, this Continental completely hustles by corners because of quite a few Velocity-specific upgrades. New for the Velocity are an digital limited-slip differential, rear-wheel steering that turns the again wheels as much as 4 levels and a tweaked all-wheel-drive system that may ship as much as 93% of torque to only the rear wheels. The Velocity additionally comes commonplace with Bentley’s three-chamber air suspension, adaptive dampers and 48-volt lively anti-roll system. The suspension has a max experience top mode that is equally pretty much as good for moving into steep driveways as it’s for navigating distant dust roads whenever you take a pair unsuitable turns. Ask me how I do know.
Additional serving to the Velocity disguise its weight can be found 22-inch wheels sporting Pirelli P Zero summer time tires, sized 275/35 up entrance and 315/30 in again. My take a look at automobile additionally has the non-obligatory carbon-ceramic brake setup, that are the biggest brakes on sale. The 17.3-inch entrance discs are clamped by 10-piston calipers, whereas the rear discs measure 16.1 inches and have 4-piston calipers. Bentley says the ceramics save 73 kilos in contrast with the usual brakes, and there is not one of the squeaking usually related to carbon-ceramic brakes on highway vehicles, however the brakes is usually a bit arduous to modulate easily.
All of this provides as much as create a very astonishing performer. The Velocity’s steering is mild and sharper than a traditional Continental’s, there’s nearly no physique roll or dive underneath braking and people enormous tires present seemingly infinite grip. Linking tight, advanced corners collectively is easy, and the Velocity by no means loses its composure. That does not imply this huge coupe cannot be playful, although. In Sport mode the Velocity’s retuned stability management permits for elevated quantities of slip, and you may flip all of it the way in which off in the event you dare. It is simple to realize managed slides within the Velocity, and this huge coupe is significantly satisfying to throw right into a nook.
Solely the true Bentley heads on the market will discover the Velocity’s styling variations in comparison with a traditional Continental GT, and my automobile’s spec is about as delicate as a Bentley can get. The Velocity has turbine-like wheel designs, darker grille finishes, new aspect skirts and a few Velocity badges — and that is it. My take a look at automobile provides on a $12,245 carbon-fiber styling package deal with extra splitter and diffuser components, however with the blacked-out trim and deep Midnight Emerald paint, this Velocity flies underneath the radar. Personally, I would go for a shiny purple colour with chrome grille mesh, a pink inside and knurled aluminum trim, however I like to face out.
Not less than this Continental has an attention-grabbing matching inside. The Velocity is obtainable with a large number of three-tone colour schemes that blend diamond-quilted leather-based and luxe Alcantara, and this one has Cumbrian inexperienced and Portland gray upholstery accented by cream stripes and trim. The usual piano black dashboard end is fairly tame, however there’s greater than sufficient brightwork and ambient lighting to maintain the cabin attention-grabbing. The Continental’s extremely adjustable seats have therapeutic massage features and are supremely snug, and the again seat is spacious sufficient that my buddies did not complain a single time. That air suspension soaks up any highway imperfections, and the one audible perturbances that attain the cabin is a little bit of noise from the tires. It is an expertise worthy of the price, other than the Porsche-derived infotainment tech that is now a pair generations outdated.
By the point my weekend within the desert is over and I’ve luxuriously wafted again to LA, the Velocity has averaged 18 mpg over almost 600 miles, 3 mpg higher than the EPA’s mixed determine — and that features many full-throttle launches and, ahem, velocity. It’s going to simply beat the 20-mpg freeway estimate, too, because of a cylinder deactivation system that shuts down half the engine. Certain, the Continental’s enormous tank and California’s all the time absurd fuel costs result in huge winces from my face and my pockets each time I refill, nevertheless it’s nonetheless far more environment friendly and useable as a road-trip automobile than I anticipated.
There are a pair issues that throw a little bit of a wrench within the Velocity’s enchantment: Particularly, different Continental GT fashions. The brand new Continental GT S comes with the Velocity’s great suspension setup (although it misses out on the Velocity’s different efficiency bits), and its 542-hp twin-turbo V8 engine is extra satisfying to wring out and sounds even higher than the Velocity’s W12. Even a base V8 Continental is sort of pretty much as good to drive as this Velocity, and it prices nearly $100K lower than the Velocity’s $280,225 beginning value. Nobody is basically nook carving in a Continental GT anyway although it is enjoyable as hell to take action, and the Velocity’s straight-line efficiency is barely half a second faster than the V8’s, which isn’t sufficient to be that noticeable.
However on the finish of the day, I nonetheless really need the Velocity. It is a lesson in making extra work even when it is pointless. The Velocity-specific chassis upgrades actually do make a distinction — its efficiency is mind-boggling it doesn’t matter what kind of driving you are doing, but the Velocity is equally good at being calm and comfy round city or on an extended drive. I am unable to consider one other high-end automobile on sale that has the identical breadth of capability, other than Bentley’s personal Flying Spur sedan. While you’re taking part in within the realm of $200,000 vehicles, folks need the very best of the very best, and the Bentley Continental GT Velocity is simply that.
My greatest takeaway from this Joshua Tree getaway is that superluxury grand touring vehicles just like the Bentley Continental GT Velocity are a few of the most compelling candidates for going absolutely electrical. As a lot as I might miss the W12’s drama and engineering, a equally highly effective EV powertrain would enhance the Bentley’s driving expertise in principally each method. Noise apart, the W12’s energy supply is so clean and easy that it already feels akin to an EV, and going electrical would make the Continental even quieter and comfier. Bentley’s first manufacturing EV will probably be out by the tip of the last decade, and I say deliver it on.
(For those who loved the great pictures on this story, please try my buddies Ben, Matt, Maxx, Nathan and Ryan.)