It's easy to vilify a car like the Bentley GT Speed W12 as just another example of automotive ostentation - an exercise in four-wheeled one-upmanship in a country where the roads are either tolled or falling apart. And yet, the Bentley is a master class in seamlessly combining opposites into a convincing and aspirational whole. The only attribute it lacks is affordability.
Here are some statistics to ponder on: one engine, made up by combining two V6s, each with three cylinders per bank, and four valves per cylinder, for a capacity of six litres. The resulting 12-cylinder engine is linked to an eight-speed gearbox. Output is 467 kW and 820 Nm, enough rapidly to propel 2,320 kilograms of motoring metal. The bottom line? R5 million.
The Continental GT Speed W12 is the performance flagship of the Bentley range. First released in late 2012, the original GT Speed was the fastest production Bentley ever built. Two years later, the marque has upped the ante even further, boosting power and torque, with commensurate gains in performance.
Admittedly, the improvements aren't massive: power is up by 7kW, and torque by 20Nm, but the torque peak is now reached earlier, at...