Track Tested: 2009 Bentley Continental GTC Speed


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Is there a reason for the Bentley Continental GTC Speed to exist? Not really, at least not outside the Bentley accounting department.

A big coupe by any standard, the convertible version of the Continental GT is even more sedate in both appearance and purpose. Adding what Bentley calls the "Speed" treatment tries to re-inject a little enthusiasm back into the mixture. It adds more power, bigger wheels and tires, carbon-ceramic brakes and a retuned suspension. All useful stuff, but does it really make this giant convertible perform like a sports car? Will its owners even care?

They should for a price that surpasses a quarter of a million dollars. See what our test-drivers had to say after putting it through its paces in our latest installment of IL Track Tested.

Vehicle: 2009 Bentley Continental GTC Speed
Odometer: 2,133
Date: 03/31/2009
Driver: Chris Walton

Price: $271,395

Specifications:
Drive Type: All-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 6-speed automatic
Engine Type: W12
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 5,998cc (366 cu-in)
Redline (rpm): 6,256
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 600 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 553 @ 1,750
Brake Type (front): Carbon-ceramic disc, vented and cross-drilled
Brake Type (rear): Carbon-ceramic disc, vented and cross-drilled
Steering System: Speed-proportional power steering
Suspension Type (front): Double wishbone
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink
Tire Size (front): 275/35R20
Tire Size (rear): 275/35R20
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: P Zero
Tire Type: Summer
Wheel Size: 20-by-9.5 inches front and rear
Wheel Material (front/rear): Alloy/alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 5,562

Test Results:
0-30 (sec): 1.7
0-45 (sec): 3.2
0-60 (sec): 4.6
0-75 (sec): 6.8
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 12.9 @ 107.9
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.3
30-0 (ft): 26
60-0 (ft): 105
Braking Rating: Excellent
Slalom (mph): 66.4
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.91
Handling Rating: Very Good
Db @ Idle: 50.4
Db @ Full Throttle: 76.9
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 69.0

Acceleration Comments: Doesn't like pedal overlap, so there's a fine line with brake torquing for a launch. First gear is very short, then it gets into a logical rhythm. Upshifts (even in Sport) take longer than I would've expected. Deceptively fast with a nice engine/exhaust note.

Braking Comments: Monster brakes with monster capability. Needed some heat to work, though. First few runs in medium suspension setting and last with firm seemed to help. Even so, there's some dive with highly controlled rebound.

Handling Comments: Slalom: Much better in the slalom than I anticipated, as it was not nose-heavy or reluctant to turn in. Quick and precise steering, ample rotation on and off the throttle and enough front-tire bite from the all-wheel-drive system to save the day at the final cone. Very, very good and better than it needed to be. Skid pad: There are a lot of variables at work here: AWD (obviously rear-biased), very awkward weight distribution, and a ton of turbo power. Can be steered with throttle. Very subtle trimming of orbit with ESP.

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