This Bentley Hire Speed version is £252,000, and the 6.75-litre twin turbo V8 is lifted from 505bhp and 752lb ft to 530bhp and 811lb ft, boosts of just five and eight per cent respectively.Bentley claims the Speed lops 0.3secs of the 0-60mph (now 4.8secs) and adds 6mph at the top speed (now 190mph). Not massive gains, it must be said.
Difference in the detail, then?That’s about it. The Speed is more a change of ambience than a gain of speed. So instead of a leather gearknob, here it’s knurled metal. The wheels are 21s, not 20s, the headlining is diamond quilted, the pedals are alloy, the rear lights are dark tinted and the exhausts are rifled, which just sounds cool.The suspension is lowered and ‘sports tuned’, but it’s still not exactly a driver’s car. Even if you press the handily-located manual gears button on the steering wheel and twist the driver settings knob to Sport, this is not a car that you can hustle – and, more importantly, feels right being hustled.Two things prevent you barreling about: 2,685kg, and your own sense of propriety. Instead you ‘make progress’. You can do this at what we might describe as a ‘fair lick’, but to be frank, once you get a sense of how the prow rises and surges under load, of the sheer physicality of this object and of how leisurely the brakes are, you soon get a sense of what real momentum is. And it’s almost alarming. And you don’t want to be alarmed in a Bentley Hire.
So it’s not a driver’s car, then?I’m assuming you’re thinking of words like feedback, tactility, response, precision? No, none of those apply. Muscle it along a country road and you’ll get heave, the steering will go woolly and the car will feel awkward and confused. You won’t have got the engine to hit hard and fast, nor the brakes to bite properly and the suspension won’t be keeping roll and motion in check.Instead the best way to view this is as a driving ‘experience’. There’s nothing else quite like it. You guide it with your fingertips, you allow the gearbox to make the decisions, you ignore S-for-Sport and leave it in B-for-Bentley mode, and pretty soon you’ll be having a ball.The car will moderate your attitude for you, because that is what Bentleys do. They calm and relax you in a way that top end Mercs and Audis just don’t.