Continental GT Speed Convertible
You’re no retiring wallflower. You’re out in the world, grabbing every fun and wonderful thing out there. Shouldn’t your wheels reflect that lust-for-life attitude?
By Tara Weingarten
The Big Picture
The 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed convertible is just the right amount of wrong. It’s design taken to the nth degree, with two-tone diamond-pattern stitched leather seats and turned-aluminum fascia (shiny little circles) on the dashboard and console, which are a design cue taken from Bentleys of the 1920s. There’s a fantastic sound system, a backseat to cradle your posse, and a trunk ample enough for the spoils from a day’s worth of shopping – all of it packaged up in tasteful bling.
Carrying on the “Just the right amount of wrong” theme, we tested the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible in Sin City…blasting along the glitzy Las Vegas strip, top down (the car’s not mine!) blaring tunes and smiling the entire time. This seriously powerful 616 horsepower beast is refined enough so that drinks (non-alcoholic, please) don’t spill when mashing the accelerator, but nasty enough to beat nearly all others off the line. And when you’re with your gal pals, beating the boys off the line is important. You’ll look so downright awesome in these wheels, you’re bound to have a few guys on your tail.
An Inside Job
Like your hand-crafted Bottega Veneta bag and your Chanel suits, the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible is far from mass produced. Seamstresses tailor the leather interiors one-by-one at the Bentley factory in Crewe, England. And the brushed aluminum alloy door latches, and as trim on the knurled (a fancy word for a cross-hatch pattern on metal) shift knob and rings surrounding the air vents, are not painted aluminum plastic, like in some luxury cars, but rather real metal, which does feel nice. Indeed, everything feels nice inside the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible.
Should your taste tend to the burled maple woods or a satin-finish carbon fiber trim instead of the turned aluminum fascia, that’s an option. And so you can coordinate your Bentley’s interior color with your favorite outfits, the car’s leather comes in your choice of 17 hues, and is available as either a single color or two-tone. Contrast stitching on seats, dashboard and even the steering wheel leather is also an option.
The push of a Start button on the center console awakens this beast. And to carry the racy theme throughout, drilled aluminum alloy pedals look sporty and wear well.
Here’s something we didn’t expect while testing our Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible…snow! Yes, we put up the top, rolled up the windows and turned on the defroster. But then the heavy stuff came down, and my driving partner and I worried we’d lose control of the car and slide into something. We shouldn’t have worried. This Bentley has permanent all-wheel drive for traction to all four wheels. That, coupled with winter tires, and our Bentley held the road while we watched lesser vehicles slide over to the side. The car is also equipped with Electronic Stability Control, which takes over should the vehicle sense it’s about to skid or spin.
Most of us have no reference point to gauge what an admirable 0-60 mph time would be…that’s why I’m here, to guide you through the process. The 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible is the fastest four-seat convertible in the world, going from a standstill to 60 mph in a stunningly fast 4.1 seconds. That’s just a titch longer than it takes to sneeze! I’m not sure if that’s scientifically accurate but I’m going with it. And the reason why this is an incredible feat is because this Bentley is a substantial set of wheels, heavier than a normal sports car, and made even heavier by the equipment needed to power the convertible roof. So it’s a heavy car that goes faster than most lightweight sports cars.
But speed is only part of a driving experience. We marveled at how quickly and smoothly the Bentley shifts gears. Nearly imperceptible. Just a long continuous arc of power from one gear to the next. Lovely. And the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible gives a smooth, comfortable ride as well. Pot holes and speed bumps be damned. This Bentley eats them for a snack. Handling for such a large and heavy car is terrific as well. I wouldn’t take it on a racetrack and expect great things. But driving through mountains on twisty two-lane roads is a delight. The Bentley feels planted, solid and capable.
Gizmos And Tech
No one will buy a Bentley for its advanced techy gizmos. It doesn’t have them and that’s not at all what this car is about. But the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible does come equipped with a hard drive of 15 gigs of music space, a six-CD changer, and a navigation system that is in need of updating. Audiophiles should upgrade to the Naim sound system, which is one of the best audio components available to any auto brand today. The system automatically adjusts when the top is down to compensate for wind buffeting. Check out our review of the Naim system here.
No one needs a Bentley, of course. Any car can get you from point A to point B. But when it's time to make your mark, to have fun and really enjoy your life. Take one of these for a spin.
Shockingly great acceleration for such a big car
Wrapped in exquisite luxury