It’s been five years since we’ve reviewed Bentley’s GTC Speed, a luxury offering billed as the world’s fastest four-passenger convertible. In that time, the big British machine has added top speed — now 202 mph from the previous 198, and gained additional horsepower, a tad more finesse, and even better fuel economy. It has also put on a few British pounds, with the base price increasing $38,710 from the 2008 model.
Are there still willing buyers for a 5,500-pound luxury car that can bolt to 60 mph in four seconds? Apparently a few exist, and the Speed version connects with Bentley’s legendary past as well as confirming the brand’s sporting demeanor. Floor the loud pedal, and this convertible will rush like a crazed locomotive to highway speeds and beyond, leaving many exotic sports cars in the dust. It’s great fun for amusing guests who are strapped in the rear seats while their mouths form an “O.”
Brisk acceleration can be quiet and refined, but if you wish to turn the wick up, just move the gear lever to “S” and even more fun is available. The big 6.0-liter, 12-cylinder springs to quick response mode, the eight-speed transmission dials up, and exhaust pipes make a baritone snarl. If you’re traveling a reasonably open road, few sports cars will keep up with the Speed at full boil.
Of course most of your motoring duties will be less prone to incarceration. If that’s the case, the Bentley is right at home, boulevard cruising or preening at the curb. And if you enjoy music, our test car was equipped with the $7,300 Naim audio system. It’s a Bentley exclusive from the top-tier British hi-fi firm and the option, while expensive, is far less money than Naim’s home gear.
High performance luxury cars have become the stock in trade for automakers, since they are the choice of enthusiast magazines for cover articles. Bentley is hardly unique in topping the GT range, an already powerful lineup, with prodigious performance. But the Bentley boys do it with a wonderful sophistication that’s uniquely British. From the Breitling timepiece in the burled dash to the hand-selected leather seating, you’re surrounded in first class luxury. Even when the three-layer convertible top is stowed, a neck warmer keeps you cozy.
Earlier this year, I spent some quality time in Bentley’s V-8-powered GTC and found it more than adequate for even enthusiastic motoring. And the “standard” 12-cylinder engine will pin your ears back with ease. But for those who want nothing short of amazing, the GTC Speed is just the ticket. Brian Douglas
Photography courtesy of Bentley
2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed
TYPE: Front engine, all-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 6.0 liter, Turbocharged W-12
HORSEPOWER: 616 @ 6,000-RPM
TORQUE: 590 lb.ft. @ 2,000-RPM
BASE PRICE: $238,700
PRICE AS TESTED: $270,215
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 12-city, 20-highway