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Speed Week: Porsche 911 Turbo S vs Bentley Continental GT Speed

  1. The Bentley Conti GT Speed and Porsche 911 Turbo have much in common. Both shove daft power through four-wheel-drive transmissions. Both have (just about) four seats. Both will cost you over £150,000 once you start slapping on options. But you shouldn’t think of these two as competitors. Instead, consider them partners in crime. Or, rather, partners in crime-fighting. See, you know how, in any self-respecting telly or Hollywood cop duo, there’s always the same dynamic? One’s always the straight guy, the guy who plays by the rules. And then there’s the maverick, the guy who’ll do what he damn well needs to do to get the job done, and to hell with The Chief. Well, that’s the 911 Turbo and Conti GT Speed, that is.

    Words: Sam Philip 

    Photography: John Wycherley

  2. The 911 Turbo is the former, the one that gets to work at 8.45am on the dot and keeps the paperwork in order. Not boring - not for a second, here - but unflappable, predictable. You can take extraordinary, daft liberties with this thing - mid-corner lift-off, devising a new ‘rallycross’ line through a quick Castellolí corner with both inside wheels on the gravel - and the 911 plays them all with a dead-straight bat, smothering all your silliness in a fire blanket of grip and balance.

    The 911 is also (and here’s where the metaphor unravels) monumentally rapid, unleashing a punch of acceleration that never stops feeling shocking. Real-world, with the exception of big brother 918, I’m not sure there’s much on the planet that offers such idiot-proof speed. 911 Turbos once had a reputation for being blunt- edged tools, but this is utterly precise and placeable. Unruffleable, if such a word exists.

  3. Unlike the Conti GT. The firebrand, the maverick, the one that turns up to work at lunchtime, reeking faintly of brandy, before trying to start a fight with the photocopier. For all Bentley’s assertions that the GT Speed is its most track-focused creation ever, the Conti remains a faintly absurd sight out on circuit, bellowing furiously from corner to corner, listing like a drunk, doing its best impression of a handstand in the heaviest braking zones.

    If that makes it sound like the Conti is an unpleasant thing to drive on-track, it isn’t. In truth, it’s rather glorious, the sort of car you get out of after a couple of hot laps with a grin on your face and a fire extinguisher in your hand to deal with the brakes. You find yourself tilting merrily through corners at a daft lick - all four tyres squealing as they fail to maintain adhesion between 2.3 tonnes of British metal and some very bendy Spanish tarmac - with the Conti’s steering wheel pinched lightly between thumb and forefinger, much as I imagine a royal chauffeur might do, had the Queen got off her head on shortbread and decreed she fancied a quick joyride. Hardly precise, but a very, very good lesson in physics, and quite frankly the sort of silliness you really shouldn’t be able to perform in a 626bhp, £157,000 mammoth.

  4. So the point is this: you want a £150,000 four-seater for obliterating circuits, you’ll have the Porsche. After all, it went round the track some 13 seconds quicker than the more powerful Conti, which in circuit years is several lifetimes. But if you want a £150,000 four-seater for a) dismissing large continents in a single breath or b) generating a spontaneous round of applause from onlookers as you exit a corner at a 30-degree lean, all four tyres harmonising merrily, the Bentley is king. These are the yin and yang of 4WD supercars. The Starsky and Hutch.

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