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6.0-litre W12, 625PS, 800Nm, 8-speed auto and AWD
Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible
Joins the Coupé from Detroit's 2013 NAIAS

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible: front/side view with open top (3/4)

GT Speed, Bentley’s new open-top performance flagship.

11 Jan. 2013,
Gabriel Sakr
:

Listen to this: Bentley is promising no less than "the fastest four-seat convertible supercar in the world", with a top speed of 325 km/h (202 mph) from a twin-turbocharged 6.0 litre, 48-valve W12-cylinder engine, developping 625 PS (616 bhp), channeled via an eight-speed transmission, to the permanent all-wheel drive and from there, you imagine the rest.

But on top of that, Bentley’s new open-top performance flagship, this Continental GT Speed Convertible, will get its international debut on 14th January at the 2013 NAIAS (North American International Auto Show, public days from 19 to 27 January) in Detroit, Michigan, USA, in a rather euphoric atmosphere for the company.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible: profile view from top.

Nought to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds (0-60 mph in 4.1 sec.).

In fact, only two days ago, Bentley Motors (owned by the German group VW) announced the growth of its worldwide deliveries to customers by no less than 22 per cent over 2011, reaching 8,510 cars, up from 7,003 cars in 2011.

By comparison, the other and also successful British luxury brand, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars (owned by the German group BMW) announced two days ago the growth of its global sales last year by 1.04 per cent, reaching 3,575 cars in 2012 – third consecutive record for the company and the best in its history – up from 3,538 cars in 2001.

That's for the context. More about the real thing now.

 Powertrain

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible: rear/side view (3/4) with open top.

Permanent all-wheel drive system with a 40 front /60 rear bias.

Sharing its powertrain with the GT Speed coupé, the Bentley Continental GT Speed convertible delivers its maximal output of 616 bhp (460 kW, 625 PS) at 6000 rpm, and it peak torque of 800 Nm (590 lb.ft) from 2000 to 5000 rpm, with an uprated and lowered suspension.

This combination launches the four-seat convertible from nought to 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds (0-60 mph in 4.1 sec.), and 9.7 seconds to reach the 160 km/h (100 mph). More about the Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible dimensions and specifications.

The GT Speed convertible benefits from an enhanced turbocharger control and torque management, thanks to the latest ME17 engine management system, and like all W12-engined models, it gets an energy recuperation system which helps, with the ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox and its Quickshift, Block Shifting and wheel-mounted paddleshift, achieve a 15 per cent improvement in fuel economy and CO2 emissions, when compared with the first generation Speed model (bringing another benefit in terms of a longer fuel autonomy with a full tank capacity).

Switching the gear selector to ‘Sport’ mode brings a sharper throttle response, gear-shifting at higher engine speeds and faster ‘block shifting’ (from 8th direct to 4th gear for instance).

As a Bentley Continental, the GT Speed convertible gets the permanent all-wheel drive, system. It distributes torque on a 40 front /60 rear basis, for a sportier handling style, while also minimising understeer during hard cornering as the system optimises grip by modulating torque distribution between the front and rear axles depending on road and weather conditions.

 Handling

With its lower and sharper chassis, the Continental GT Speed convertible has a rigid bodyshell (torsional stiffness of 22,500 Nm/degree). The aluminium double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear setup feature revised air suspension springs and dampers to adapt with the kerb weight difference betwen the Coupé (2320 kg / 5115 lb) and the heavier Convertible (2495 kg / 5500 lb).

Also, the self-levelling system is set 10 mm lower than the Continental GT convertible (575PS, 423 kW, 567 bhp), with stiffer suspension bushes and uprated anti-roll bars.

The steering system (rack & pinion, power assisted, speed-sensitive ZF servotronic) has been retuned, while keeping the 2.6 lock-to-lock turns of the Coupé model and the same 11.3 metres (37.07 ft) turning circle diameter.

Adapting with the new ME17 engine management system, Bentley indicates that while the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is optimised for both safety and driver involvement, it retains the “Dynamic Mode” setting that allows increased wheel slip at higher speeds, with engine torque reinstated more quickly after a system intervention.

 Design

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible: specific matrix radiator grille and bumper air intakes in a dark-tint chrome finish.

Specific matrix radiator grille and bumper air intakes.

Fitting at the top of the Continental range, the new GT Speed convertible gets a specific matrix radiator grille and bumper air intakes in a dark-tint chrome finish (opposite picture), with its special 21” Speed alloy wheels (in silver or an optional dark tint) and elliptical exhaust tailpipes with a rifled interior.

The front wings are made of superformed aluminium, and, as with the GT Speed coupé, the winged ‘B’ badge on the radiator shell is set upon a black enamel background. Under the bonnet, the black inlet manifold is unique to the Continental Speed models.

Preserving the purity of the design, the British luxury brand explains that with the lower suspension and 21” wheels, and despite the supercar performance, the new GT Speed Convertible doesn't need any additional spoilers. The "gentle lip on the double-horseshoe bootlid generates all the downforce (needed)", even at the top speed.

 Interior

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible: dashboard and console view.

Dark tint aluminium ‘engine spin’ finish.

Inside, the four-seat cabin features the hand-craftsmanship of the Mulliner Driving Specification, with the diamond-quilted hide upholstery. For the Continental GT Speed models, Bentley offers a dark tint aluminium ‘engine spin’ finish, inspired by the dashboards of the Le Mans Bentleys of the 1920s, complementing the exterior’s dark tint chrome radiator and bumper grilles. Other optional finishes include the range of fine wood veneers and a satin-finish carbon fibre option for fascia and centre console.

The infotainment system has a 15 Gigabytes built-in music space, in addition to the possibility to play music via an external source such as an iPod, MP3 player, the car’s own six-disc CD changer or SD card. Depending on the regions, it also includes point of interest mapping, optional satellite landscape imagery, live traffic data and, where the infrastructure supports it, digital radio.

Bentley's Continental GT Speed Convertible infotainment system also features flat panel "balanced mode radiator" speakers (BMR), which combine the functions of separate tweeter and midrange speakers in one unit. Alternatively, an optional Naim for Bentley system is available with custom-built speakers and eight individual digital sound processing modes. When the four-layer hood – tested in different conditions from -30°C to +50°C – is opened, the sound settings are automatically modified to compensate for the surrounding sound changes. A neck warmer function is available for open air driving when outside temperature is not too warm.

While prices are expected to be announced later, the Bentley Continental GT Speed Coupé version is sold in continental Europe (French market example) from 212,700 euros.

 

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