What's New for 2010
The 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed is a new high-performance version of the GTC convertible.
Although numerous James Bond films have featured Aston Martins, author Ian Fleming actually envisioned 007 driving a Bentley convertible. The symbolism seemed obvious, as both car and owner represented British style and power. Now part of the Volkswagen empire, Bentley is obviously a radically different company from the one that produced the literary 007's 1930 convertible with its Amherst Villiers supercharger, but that high-performance heritage that attracted Fleming is being recaptured today by the 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed. With an ample supply of German engineering prowess along with a healthy dose of British character, the GTC Speed offers an intriguing blend of style and power.
Power in this case comes from the 12 twin-turbocharged cylinders pumping in a distinctive "W" formation behind the GTC Speed's stately grille. While the regular GTC makes do with a 552-horsepower 6.0-liter W12, the Speed features a massaged version of the same German-engineered power plant that produces 600 hp. Bentley purists may remain partial to the Arnage's ancient and authentically British twin-turbo V8, but there's no arguing with an engine that can whisk a 5,500-pound, all-wheel-drive convertible from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. The GTC Speed is also a more sharpened driving tool than its non-Speed sibling, thanks to extensive changes made to the steering and adjustable suspension. An exotic sports car it isn't, but the level of control and communication has been raised sufficiently to justify the Speed version's added cost without losing the expected Bentley ride comfort.
Stylistically, the 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed gets the same larger, dark-finished grille and 20-inch 12-spoke wheels as the GT Speed coupe, while a subtle trunk-mounted lip spoiler is said to assist with downforce when approaching the convertible's 200-mph top speed. Inside, diamond-quilted leather upholstery is added to the already regal cabin, which tastefully blends old-world materials with modern style. Chrome accents, knurled metal trim and a choice of six veneers and 17 different leather colors provide an ambience rivaled only by Rolls-Royce.
It's hard to rationalize an automobile that costs about as much as the average American home. Yet compared to the regular Continental convertible, the 2010 GTC Speed's notable performance enhancements make it the more rational choice. When you're paying this much money to begin with, the Speed's $14,000 premium seems almost reasonable. Of course, there are other high-end luxury convertibles to consider, most of which are less expensive. Aston Martin's DBS and DB9 Volantes are the most obvious rivals, while the Ferrari California, Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG and Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder are also excellent choices for top-dollar top-down thrills. Buyers gravitating toward the Continental GTC Speed, though, will certainly find themselves with automotive desires of style and power very similar to Mr. Fleming's 007.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed is a four-passenger luxury soft-top convertible available in one trim level. Standard equipment includes 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned electronically adjustable air suspension with four settings, bi-xenon headlamps with washers, front and rear foglamps, a rear lip spoiler, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, keyless ignition/entry, power heated front seats with memory functions, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a full leather interior with your choice of primary and secondary hides in 17 colors, diamond-stitched upholstery, real wood trim, multizone automatic climate control with rear controls, Bluetooth, a navigation system and a 10-speaker stereo with satellite radio and a glovebox-mounted six-CD changer.
The Convenience Specification adds a rearview camera (also a stand-alone option), a power opening and closing trunk lid, front seat lumbar massage and an iPod interface. Other options include carbon-ceramic disc brakes, adaptive cruise control, a wind deflector and a 13-speaker Naim audio system with two subwoofers. Additionally, Bentleys are highly customizable, with countless combinations possible for seat, interior and roof colors, as well as various veneer and metal trims. There is also a special order program known as the Mulliner Driving Specification that provides even more possibilities for creating a one-of-a-kind GTC.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed is powered by a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder engine arranged in the Volkswagen Group's unique W formation. Churning out 600 hp and 553 pound-feet of torque through all four wheels, the W12 powers the GTC Speed from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. A six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is standard.
Safety equipment on the Continental GTC Speed includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, and front side airbags. With the optional carbon-ceramic brakes, the GTC Speed comes to a stop from 60 mph in a remarkable 105 feet, a supercar-grade performance that's all the more impressive given the GTC Speed's immense weight.
Interior Design and Special Features
Being a Bentley, the GTC Speed features a cabin with tremendous attention to detail. There's an old-world feel to it, highlighted by classy veneer, supple leather, push-pull vent controls, a Breitling timepiece and lots of switches and levers made of chrome and knurled metal. Road and wind noise are hushed with the soft-top roof raised. When it's lowered, the cabin remains impressively placid at legal speeds. The highly recommended optional wind blocker installs across the rear seats to virtually eliminate turbulence at higher velocities. There's adequate room for two rear passengers, but don't count on any four-person cross-country treks. The 8.3-cubic-foot capacity of the trunk isn't impressive given the GTC Speed's outsized proportions, but it can hold a standard golf bag with the woods removed.
With 600 hp under the hood and optional carbon-ceramic brake discs that are bigger than the steering wheel, the 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed does a marvelous job of overcoming those pesky laws of physics. The lowered ride height, adjustable suspension settings and rear-biased all-wheel drive allow for more enthusiastic driving than you'd ever expect possible in such an enormous vehicle. The ride remains comfortable despite hints of cowl shake over rough pavement. The retuned but still light steering doesn't provide the sort of communication that some other exotic convertibles do, but in the end, the GTC Speed is what most would expect it to be: a civilized touring convertible with a sharpened level of performance not found in the regular GTC.