BENTLEY'S 2010 Continental GTC Speed belongs to that rare class of vehicles to which the standard array of automotive superlatives simply does not apply. After all, how can one adequately convey the sensation of accelerating a 5500-pound, leather-clad convertible from rest to 60 mph in a mere 4.5 seconds? Of hitting 195 mph with the top down. Of returning to a standstill via the world's largest production automobile brakes—eight-piston calipers and 16.5-inch carbon-ceramic discs? .
Though essentially a performance variant of the Continental GTC convertible, the Speed is not some stripped-down racer. Sure it has drilled aluminum pedals, but there's no stereo delete option here. Bentley went the other direction and serves up an 1100-watt Nairn audio system—the most powerful available in any production car. The knurled-chrome and leather-paneled gearshift lever of the six-speed ZF transmission further indicate a focus on fine motoring as well as high performance. So do the turned aluminum fascias and use of 12 quilted cowhides to line the sumptuous four-passenger cocoon.
Set atop exclusive 20-inch wheels and 275/35 Pirelli PZeros, the Speed just manages to outsleek the GTC. Some clientele might find it too understated. "Speed" appears only on the doorsills while other signs of the beast—the crackle-black-finished intake manifold, dark-tinted front grille, larger-diameter tailpipes, and rear spoiler—are deviously subtle. Such subtlety evaporates at full throttle. By incorporating new pistons, lighter con rods, and a new crankcase design, Crewe engineers were able to coax 9-percent more horses and 15-percent more torque from the 6.0-liter, twin-turbo W-12: engine while reducing carbon dioxide output by 3.5 percent.This brings output to 600 horses and 553 pound-feet of torque, nearly as breathtaking as the burly wuffle of the tuned exhaust.
With communicative steering and four-way-adjustable air suspension, this all-wheel-drive heavyweight ducks and weaves like the World's Greatest. Even when driven hard, understeer has been suppressed; it surfaces only in moments of extreme driver foolishness before being quashed by the deftly tuned ESP.
2010 BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GTC
BASE PRICE :$257,695
VEHICLE LAYOUT :Front-engine, AWD, 4-pass, 2-door convertible
ENGINE : 6.0L/600-hp/ 555-lb-lt twin-tuibocharged DOHC 48-valve W-12
TRANSMISSION :6-sp automatic
CURB WEIGHT :5500 lb (mfr)
WHEE1BASE :108.1 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT:189.1 x 82.8 x 54.6 in
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON:10/17 mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS :1.58 lb/mile
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