The Continental GT Speed Convertible, Bentley’s new open-top performance flagship—and the world’s fastest four-seat convertible—makes its international debut on Jan. 14 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Aside from the Bentley, also among the more interesting launches in Detroit are the Audi RS 5 Cabriolet and R8, the Nissan Versa hatchback, the Mercedes E-Class Coupe, the BMW 1 Series Limited Edition Lifestyle, and the MINI JCW Paceman and the 2014 Corvette.
The new GT Speed Convertible combines the sensory pleasures of roof-down luxury touring with the shattering performance of a 625 HP (616 bhp) twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12. This engine powers the new convertible to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds (0-100 kph in 4.4 s.) and onto a top speed of 202 mph (325 kph). Nought to 100 mph (160 kph) is despatched in only 9.7 seconds. Peak torque—an impressive 800 Nm (590 lb.ft)—is reached at just 2000 rpm and maintains that level through to 5000 rpm for effortless, refined performance at all times.
The latest ME17 engine management system, capable of performing 180 million individual calculations per second, provides enhanced turbocharger control and torque management, enhancing driveability. In common with all W12-engined models, the GT Speed convertible features an energy recuperation system. Together with a close-ratio, quick-shifting eight-speed transmission, this has resulted in a 15 percent improvement in fuel economy and CO2 emissions compared with the first-generation Speed, with a commensurate increase in tank range.
The new GT Speed Convertible’s powertrain is even more tractable than its Speed predecessor. The close-ratio eight-speed transmission, uprated and lowered suspension and retuned steering provide exhilarating acceleration and sharp, communicative handling without detriment to the renowned ride comfort of Bentley’s Continental convertible. Switching the gear selector to ‘Sport’ mode demonstrates the dual personality of the new GT Speed convertible, delivering a sharper throttle response, gear-shifting at higher engine speeds and faster ‘block shifting’ (e.g. eighth direct to fourth gear) for instantly accessible acceleration. The enhanced performance is accentuated by a glorious baritone snarl from the free-breathing exhaust, a thrilling soundtrack to the magnificent powerhouse under the bonnet.
With torsional stiffness a class-leading 22,500 Nm/degree, the bodyshell of the Continental GT Speed convertible is exceptionally rigid, laying the perfect foundation for a more engaging driving experience. The aluminium double-wishbone front suspension and trapezoidal multilink rear setup feature revised air suspension springs and dampers for improved agility and body control with little sacrifice in ride comfort.
The self-levelling system is set 10 mm lower than the 575-HP Continental GT convertible. Stiffer suspension bushes ensure sharp, communicative handling, while uprated antiroll bars optimize the handling balance. The result is improved body control under hard cornering together with greater agility and, because steering plays an essential role in feeding response and grip back to the driver, the Servotronic steering has also been recalibrated for the Speed specification.
Subtle sporting design cues include exclusive 21-inch alloy wheels, dark-tint grilles and ‘rifled’ exhaust tail pipes. Inside its handcrafted cabin, the GT Speed convertible features the Mulliner Driving Specification as standard, blending contemporary luxury with a distinctly sporting character.
The new Continental GT Speed Convertible offers the luxury and refinement of a coupe yet transforms into a head-turning open tourer at the touch of a button. The four-layer hood ensures high levels of refinement and acoustic insulation.