What's New for 2011
The 2011 Bentley Continental GTC Speed carries over pretty much unchanged. A limited-edition variant called the 80-11 replaces the Series 51 option.
It's difficult to argue that the Bentley Continental GTC Speed is anything but a solid choice among ultra-luxury convertibles. But with the likelihood of an improved version on the horizon, the decision to purchase the current 2011 model gets complicated. The 2012 Continental GT coupe is set to receive a slight styling refresh, sharper handling, more rear-seat space and updated electronics. Considering this, the 2011 GTC Speed might be akin to waiting in line for last year's iPhone.
If you absolutely must have a Continental GTC Speed now, you can still find comfort in the fact that you're still getting an exclusive and opulent form of open-air motoring. For the $230,000-plus price tag, you'll be surrounded by top-notch supple leathers, rich wood trim and metal accents. And moving all of this finery around is a 6.0-liter 12-cylinder that produces an inspiring 600 horsepower.
But you'll also be saddled with a horse that is ready to be put out to pasture. This may sway you toward the Continental GTC Speed's few competitors. The similarly priced Aston Martin DBS convertible breathes quite a bit of life into this segment with sportier handling and styling. The Maserati GranTurismo Convertible is one of the most attractive cars on the market and will set you back quite a bit less cash as well. For those less interested in prestige (but who still want something with a taste of English luxury), the Jaguar XKR is a stirring ride at half the price of the GTC.
Considering that the 2011 Bentley Continental GTC Speed will be "last year's" model shortly, it may make more sense to opt for a less expensive alternative or wait until the refreshed version arrives.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Bentley Continental GTC Speed is a four-passenger premium luxury convertible offered in a single, well-appointed trim level. Standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned electronically adjustable air suspension with four settings, a power-folding soft top, bi-xenon headlamps with washers, front and rear foglamps, a rear lip spoiler, rain-sensing wipers, power door latches, a power-opening and -closing trunk, and front and rear parking sensors.
The long list of features continues inside, with cruise control, keyless ignition/entry, a full leather interior with a choice of primary and secondary hides in 17 colors, diamond-stitched upholstery, piano black or burl walnut trim, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear-seat controls, 14-way power heated front seats with memory functions, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, Bluetooth, a navigation system and a 12-speaker stereo with satellite radio and a glovebox-mounted six-CD changer.
Options include carbon-ceramic brakes (only available with the optional 20-inch wheels), adaptive cruise control, a heated steering wheel, an 1,100-watt 14-speaker Naim sound system with two subwoofers, an iPod interface, massaging front seats, upgraded interior veneers, lamb's-wool carpeting and a rearview camera.
New for 2011 is the 80-11 Edition package of options. This grouping is limited to only 80 examples and adds exclusive cosmetic enhancements that include 20-inch wheels, a dark gray metallic soft top, a Mulliner alloy fuel cap, a three-spoke steering wheel, alloy pedals, package-specific interior trim materials and minor exterior and interior badging.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the Bentley Continental GTC Speed is a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged engine with 12 cylinders arranged in the Volkswagen Group's unique W formation. This W12 power plant produces an impressive 600 hp and 553 pound-feet of torque. Even more noteworthy is that all of this torque is on tap at just 1,700 rpm. A six-speed automatic with steering-column-mounted paddle shifters is the only transmission available, and it sends power to all four wheels.
Despite its hefty 5,478-pound curb weight, the Continental GTC Speed hustles from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, according to Bentley. Top speed is reported at a breathtaking 200 mph with the top up. As expected, fuel economy is decidedly low, registering an EPA-estimated 10 mpg city/17 highway.
Standard safety features for the 2011 Continental GTC Speed include stability control, traction control, front-seat side airbags and antilock disc brakes with brake assist. Also included is a rollover protection system that automatically deploys from behind the rear seats. 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
Even with the lofty expectations that come with any Bentley, the Continental GTC Speed's interior does not disappoint. Metal accents, rich wood trim and soft leather are beyond reproach, with the added old-world charm of push-pull vent controls, a Breitling timepiece and metal switches and levers. Regrettably, the infotainment and navigation system is old-world as well, as Bentley hasn't changed it since the Continental GTC's 2004 introduction, and its age shows in the undersized display screen and non-intuitive interface. Mercifully, the optional iPod interface is easier to use.
Front passengers will undoubtedly be pleased with their leather-swaddled thrones, but the backseat is a different story -- there's room for two shorter passengers, but only if those in front are in a generous mood. The 9.2-cubic-foot capacity of the trunk isn't impressive given the GTC Speed's outsized proportions, but it's enough to accommodate a standard golf bag with the woods removed.
Despite the 2011 Continental GTC Speed's portly weight and plus-sized dimensions, it is surprisingly well-mannered in terms of performance. Acceleration is authoritative -- as it should be with 600 hp on tap. 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.
Lower the beautifully lined soft top, erect the folding wind deflector over the backseat, raise the windows and marvel at how little noise and air infiltrate the Bentley's cabin. At 75 mph, you'll find your hair fussed no more than if the air-conditioning were turned to max.
The ride remains comfortable despite hints of cowl shake over rough pavement. Steering effort is light and 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.