First Drive Review: 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible

 

Off on a secret assignment during the winter, Snap reviews the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible.

“The Lyin’ in Winter…or…I MUST Afford This Freakin’ Bentley”

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So, I drove the Bentley Continental GT Speed hardtop last October in Spain. Why not drive the heinous convertible version of the same in winter through Arizona? Kiss it!

Holy crap, is this latest Bentley a sweet thing.

There, that’s it. Review done and off to lunch.

But, hold on, girl. I gots a lot more to say to all y’all. Gimme that mike…I saved this special song for you, girl.

No, no singing. Here, we drive. And we drive like we’ve never driven before, with everything we’ve known until today thrown out of the window. It’s all new and tingly, like a white wine spritzer in a saucy cabana. But I like it anyway and can’t get enough. Kiss me, you fool.

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It’s a car and cannot reciprocate, placing its petulant lips upon my own. Never shall I know the trash novel love affair of which I dream with this very Bentley built in Crewe in the UK. Built and assembled and tested by the British themselves, funded by a massive German corporation that insists that all employees have really good teeth and not the traditional really bad ones.

Screw it, I’ll take a strawberry malted and expand hugely like the rest of rural America enjoys doing on its unique style of training diet. (Training for what? Death?)

I actually did consume a fabulous strawberry malted at just one of the several cool stops along this ultimately German-funded and British-inspired drive journey between Las Vega$ and Scottsdale with a glorious drive through, and stop at, the south rim of the Grand Canyon on perfect sun-caked days.

Moroccan Blue is the answer to your gut-wrenching question. The car I got to drive was Moroccan Blue. The best dressed one of the fleet assembled by a long shot. There were some people driving Bentley GT Speed convertibles with “Champagne” golden exteriors and interiors that looked like really expensive shoulder bags which required no good taste whatsoever to sew together. All to strut the stuff of Bentley’s powerful profit-creating Mulliner personalization program and the standard Mulliner Styling Specification for the GT Speed. Bentley does frequently possess a gaudy clientele of nouveaux riches.

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This 616-horsepower, 5,500-pound, 6.0-liter bi-turbo W12 train motor car is fabulous thinking. It is as well a throwback to a way more wasteful time in our lives – namely the 1980s when Richard Gere didn’t look like Gramps. Frankly, there is no other powerplant+car combo today that takes me back to the pre-Clinton years (President Bill, not funk legend George) more readily as this one does. It squeezes the life out of every gallon of fuel and quickly if you’ve got the right pedal firmly planted. And it doesn’t take much to plant that pedal either.

I use the term train-car not lightly. Every time Bentley chucks my boney ass into their exquisite W12 cars, I am most definitively a Bentley Boy, partying with the rest of the estate-bred hoity-toity that never had to work a day in their lives. Family money bathes me in its furriness. The BBC is creating another TV series based on my horribly interesting life as a wastrel with a golden heart in 1920s England. I threaten servants should they look at my shoes wrong whilst polishing them. I throw my head back and LAAAAAAAAUGH that aristocratic self-adoring laugh that in the end is so very shallow and fragile. This is Bentley.

It’s a train, this Bentley Continental GT Speed convertible. In this case a coach-built open-air train, the densely layered and grand roof of which is in absolutely zero hurry to open or close. Just as with the pricing or the fuel efficiency, the “speed” with which the GT Speed opens or closes its hat is none of your effing bee’s wax, you lower-class mouth-breathing watcher of trash TV. If you must ask…..then I shall have to slap you. It’s that’s simple. Either that or kill you, even if just for fun and to add another season to the TV saga that is my snazzy existence. You less than common rabble freak show. Now, what was that question again?

The 616 horses a-galloping is very swell, of course, but then the two gulping turbochargers give this monster of the caste system 590 pound-feet of torque that start peaking at 2,000 rpm, good for acceleration to 60 mph from a stop in just a quoted 4.1 seconds. Which is a joke figure, since if this thing doesn’t tally-ho to 60 mph in something akin to 3.7 seconds, I’ll eat my beret. Not to mention also your fetching ascot, old paint.

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My blue Bentley was wearing amazing 21-inch Dunlop all-season rubbers because apparently, though it was about 70 degrees at the start and end of this two-day affair, up in Grand Canyon national park it was in the upper 20s and potentially snowy. The GT Speed units can hit 202 mph and hold it in sixth gear of the eight-speed ZF gearbox. These winter treads would mean that I could go no faster than 160 mph, damnit! Such a missed opportunity, especially while driving in traditionally no-speed-limit friendly Arizona where a policeman jacked up on 5-hour Energy can beat the shit out of you if you dare answer questions properly and politely. Welcome to the Grand Canyon state.

I managed a very pleasant exploration of the three-digit speed zone while feeling like the last person on Earth for a long and flat stretch of overly regaled Route 66, and I ain’t confessin’ which three. Suffice to say that at somewhere beyond 154 mph – say possibly, oh, 155 mph – the wind deflector ceases to effectively deflect the Level Five hurricane sailing just over the windscreen frame. In fact, a bad note on the GT Speed convertible is the flimsiness of the securing interface over the rear seats of the wind deflector. Two rubbery nubs sort of slide in to two recesses in the cabin upper frame. No reassuring “click” to be heard. Just “sort of” don’t cut it in my $230k-plus thundering ball of mass.

Regardless, and though in the mood to take out the frustration of this equipment malfunction on the house staff, the GT Speed Convertible puts me in a great frame of mind. It makes me feel a lot cooler and finer than I actually am, which I suppose is dangerous. But, the moment I start feeling at all guilty while parading with this blue-blooded open-top throughout white trash U.S.A., I lay the right foot to the floor, pressing the pedal for the grumble of the bellowing twin oval exhaust tips. This is sooooo worth it.

And if this testament is not enough, you just have to sit in this cabin which is like a handbuilt boat in its substance. The boaty interior is rendered even better, too, now that it can be exposed to the elements of the desert southwest. You can debate all you like the merits or dangers of a car that is loudly and proudly open being able to reach an estimated 202 mph. But the GT Speed convertible sort of must be closed anyway anywhere above 140 mph. With people in back, make that anywhere over 80 mph. More importantly, though, the onboard safety systems and the car’s all-wheel chassis sophistication, plus the freakin’ immense optional “Carbon Silicon Carbide” brake platters all around (talkin’ 16.5 inches of diameter up front), can account for even the very dumbest of rich prick at the wheel during Easter break in Miami.

My driving partner was a sort of shoulderless little wimpy French dude – we shall call him Marcel Marceau – and I observed him at the wheel of my GT Speed convertible. I analyzed him doing all this along the roadtrip because Marcel falls into the demographic range of a Bentley customer who pouts a little all the time and makes certain to never show too much excitement to the human population. It was fascinatin’, exhiliratin’. The only way I felt moved enough to slightly annoy my poor effete ami was in insisting the roof stay open at all times, flaky or rainy weather allowing. Hell, we have heated seats, factory-strength climate control, side windows all up, wind deflector on, and Chanel unisex cologne splashed on our supple necklines. Deal with it, mime boy.

The new Bentley Continental GT Speed convertible properly deserves songs written for it, even if they’re bad songs. Among this new age of German Bentleys, the Speeds are easily the best behavers.

[2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible photos: Billy "Snap" MacGillicuty/Bentley]

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