Quick Drive: Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible Review

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible exterior & interior

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible

A trip to the 2013 SMMT North Test Day saw an eye-watering array of cars to test drive. First up on our list was the brand-new (2013) Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible 6.0 litre W12. A casual stroll around the corner turned into a bit of a faster pace as the car was spied at the end of a row of other test cars.

The Neptune blue paintwork this particular model came in is a stunning colour, being rich and deep, and shows off the Bentley’s bold, powerful lines to great effect. Casting an eye over the Continental GT Speed , there is no doubt that this is a Bentley. Physically, it looks valuable, but without the tacky blinginess that can easily overwhelm a design.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible wheel

While the exterior is noble and chic, there’s a brawniness to the beefy bodywork that clearly states the intent of the Bentley – speed, and power. The Continental GT Speed Convertible sits low and hunkered down, poised for action, the 21″ Speed alloy wheels filling the arches beautifully, almost to the point you’d think it was impractical to have that little a gap between the tyre and arch.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible review

The Continental’s four-layer fabric roof is tight, and fits perfectly with the rest of the car’s design. This is clearly a car designed with a soft-top in mind, not some afterthought as some cars can have the appearance of being.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible steering wheel

Inside, the Bentley is, as you’d expect, of the highest standard. It is truly opulent – a sumptuousness that comes from using only the best materials and craftsmanship. There’s a thickly-quilted diamond-shaped pattern sticked into surfaces like the door panels and seats, and where one panel meets the other, there’s perfect fitment, and beautiful milled-metal parts abound.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible leather seats

It’s comfortable, and as the look of the deep seats clearly suggests, they support you well when cornering hard. They’re adjustable 14 ways, and while car’s like the Jaguar XF and XJ Portfolio adjust in more ways, the Bentley’s provide a more-than-sufficient level of comfort.

In the half-hour we had with the Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible, I spent more time concentrating on driving than looking and taking in the interior, but it is suffice to say that this Bentley does not fail to impress on either the exterior or interior.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible interior

Drive time…

Press the starter button, or turn the key to do the same job – your choice – and that massive 6.0 litre W12 turbocharged engine takes slightly longer than average to fire into life – much like any big-engined car with 12 cylinders. In that second or so of time the engine takes to turn over, the petrol in my veins starts to flow, adrenaline firing into life at the same time at the W12.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible engine

The beast fires, emitting a deep gruff woofing, with a rasping soft crackle as it reaches the maximum rev limit. The noise flows smoothly into the ears, rather than startling, and at idle it sits grumbling away deeply. A short, shallow blip on the accelerator sees the exhausts exits utter a sound that you’d imagine a waking giant to make. There’s a huge range of tones from the 6.0 W12, and every one suits the Bentley to a T.

Bentley Continental twin turbo badge

Slide the large gear selector into drive, and the Continental GT Speed glides away gracefully. A slight push of the throttle, and Bentley accelerates strongly. Even low speeds indicate the power beneath your right foot, and as soon as the road opens up I see what 616 horsepower and 590 lb. ft (800Nm) of torque feel like, by depressing the go-pedal to the floor.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible SMMT NORTH 2013 quick review-4063

For a car with a kerb weight of 2,495 kgs (5,500 lbs), the Continental shifts – it does not mess about. My eyes widen, and my heartbeat rises as the speedometer needle climbs disconcertingly quickly, and I’m having to let off the gas far sooner than expected to avoid going into triple figures.

0 – 60 miles per hour is done in a blurry 4.1 seconds, and after that the speedo climbs relentlessly, topping out at an unbelievable 202 mph (325 km/h). This Bentley is not just quick, or rapid – it is supercar fast. However, rather than brutally slamming you back into your chair, Bentley have somehow managed to design the Continental GT Speed 6.0 W12 to provide huge acceleration, but with all the smoothness of a pint of Guinness. Again, I stress it is disconcertingly rapid.

The 8-speed automatic gearbox copes well with the power, changing gears fluidly, and satisfactorily, the paddle-shifters allow a degree of individuality to the driving experience.

Bentley Continental W12 badge

Without the chance to take it around any winding country roads, I cannot make statement fully on the handling, but the all-wheel-drive provides massive grip, while the suspension copes well with both uneven and poor roads surfaces, and pushing it hard around a roundabout saw the Bentley respond well, inspiring confidence and stripping away any fears that this is a big, wallowing barge.

Overall thoughts

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible review

The Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible 6.0 W12 is £167,900 in standard specification, and with options fitted, this particular car comes out at a breathtaking £206,210. Anyone I talked to asked about the price of the Bentley, and when I told them they paled slightly, mentioning that that’s the price of a decent house.

It’s all relative though, and you simply add on another figure to the end of each option you’d normally spec on a car. For example; Carbon Ceramic Brakes: £10,400, Main paintwork: £9,030, Naim audio system: £5,475. Should you be able to afford a car like this, you’re certain to be happy with it – “money well spent”, you’d more than likely state.

Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible badge

In all seriousness though, the Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible is wonderful machine, with all the refinement and luxury you’d expect, alongside power and speed you wouldn’t. I love it – make mine a Coupé, in Sequin Blue with 21″ Dark Tint alloy’s, with Dark Bourbon and Imperial hides please.

Visit BentleyMotors.com to view and configure your dream Bentley.


Model  (As tested) 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible
Trim level  N/A
Standard stuff  Too much to list: Visit this page for details
Price  Standard: £167,900. This specification: £206,210
Engine  6.0 litre W12 turbocharged petrol with 616 horsepower and 590 lb. ft (800Nm) of torque
Drive, Gears  8-speed ZF automatic
 Fuel economy (mpg)  Urban: 14.1, Extra urban: 27.7, Combined: 19.0
 Performance  0 – 60 mph: 4.1 seconds. Max. speed: 202 mph / 325 km/h
Website  BentleyMotors.com

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Words: Chris Davies | Test drivers: Chris Davies, Jason Fanthorpe | Photography: Jason Fanthorpe, Matthew Davies

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