Few cars truly shock onlookers and leave them in awe. Sure, Ferraris and Lamborginis get hearts racing, but there is another segment that really makes people stare and envy those who piloted these handmade crafts.
I’m talking about Bentleys.
What we have here is the first test of the 2010 Bentley Continential GTC Speed. Yours truly got the chance to drive one back in April around the roads circling Road America before they are available to potential buyers later this summer.
What’s new? Well, the most important is this is a convertible. This is the third model to wear the “Speed” nomenclature, following the coupe and sedan. The drop-top receives the same 600 horsepower, 6 liter W12 engine. Spooling two turbochargers under its long, graceful hood help the GTC Speed reach speeds of 200 mph with the top up. If you insist on getting a tan, you can still go a respectable 195 mph sans roof.
On the outside, the GTC Speed get the special treatments the others do, including gorgeous multi-spoke wheels measuring 20 inches, tweaked springs and sway bars, darker-tinted front radiator and intake grills, larger exhaust tips, and a small rear spoiler and black lower bumper.
Subtle changes are made on the inside as well, but it’s still all Bentley. All leather surfaces are still stitched by hand in the softest hide possible, but now have a diamond-shaped pattern sewn in. The wood looks so rich and deep. There’s a new three-spoke wheel, special scuff plates on the door jam and custom pedals to accentuate the new model.
On the road, there is nothing like driving a Bentley. No other convertible, hell, no other car, is built with such high quality packed into a rigid structure.
The acceleration from the W12 is immense. Nail the throttle and hold on. You’ll be doing 60 mph in 4.5 seconds as all the power is sent directly through all four wheels to the road. The engine does not hesitate in the slightest going far past the posted speed limit, and the six-speed automatic rips of quick, uninterrupted shifts.
The topper, though, is how the car acts while accomplishing this feat. While hurtling down the road, the GTC Speed is so quiet and subdued it’s disturbing. The massive wheels and Pirelli tires are quiet and don’t intrude into the cabin. There is zero cowl shake going over rough roads. The seats fit you like your favorite pair of pants. The wheel feels delicate in your hands, but not twitchy like you would expect. It’s truly something to behold.
Unfortunately, to enjoy this alternate sense of reality, it will cost you. A lot. Somewhere in the ballpark of $235,000. But it is totally worth it.