One of the events I so wish I’d been able to attend was the launch of the Bentley Turbo R in 1986. Not for its sheer power, or sumptuous luxury, but the fact that someone thought it a good idea to present the car to the world’s media at the Hungaroring, then as now one of tightest, least luxobarge-friendly permanent racing facilities ever created. The tyre bill alone must have near enough bankrupted the company.
But what’s this? Another implausibly powerful Bentley grand tourer being launched on another F1 circuit? Well, think of it as an amuse-bouche – the proper introduction of this most powerful of current Bentleys will come in the autumn, but I was still intrigued to see how a 2273kg coupé would handle laps of the full Silverstone GP circuit.
The Speed is essentially a Continental GT with 650bhp, rear-wheel steering, an electronic differential and optional carbon ceramic brakes. The result is a kind of dancing bear where what impresses is not so much the quality of the dance, but the fact it’s doing it at all. The Speed is fast, composed and even fun in a kind of way. It’s no track car, but nor did it throw its hands up in horror as much as those Turbo Rs must have done 35 years ago.