7. January 2013
The first-ever Bentley Speed was launched in 1925. That was merely six years after the first Bentley was built. It featured a 65-bhp four-cylinder engine.
Everything old is new again. Sort of.
You see, that 1925 Bentley Speed is an open-top car.
And Bentley is launching the Continental GT Speed Convertible. While it has an open-top, it is powered by a 616-bhp, twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine. It is fitted with a ZF eight-speed automatic that can be paddle-shifted if so desired; using a “block shifting” setting, the transmission can do things like shift from 8th to 4th for improved acceleration. (ZF is clearly on a roll with this car, as it also supplies that rack-and-pinion, power-assisted, speed-sensitive Servotronic steering system. Of course, given that Bentley is owned by Volkswagen AG and ZF is headquartered in Friedrichshafen, Germany, a certain familiarity is to be expected).
Whereas that original Bentley Speed had a top speed of 100 mph, the new one has a top speed of 202 mph. It is described by Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber, Bentley chairman as “the world’s fastest four-seat soft-top.”
The GT Speed Convertible has the same powertrain setup as the GT Speed Coupe. The Coupe is actually a smidge faster, however: it has a top speed of 205 mph.
Presumably, this difference is predicated on the mass of the Convertible compared with that of the Coupe: a curb weight of 5,500 lb. for the former and 5,115 lb. for the latter.
While it might seem counterintuitive that a convertible would weigh more than a coupe—after all, the top is eliminated and replaced by a four-layer soft top—there is a need to structurally reinforce the body (the body shell has a torisonal stiffness of 22,500 Nm/degree) and to provide the powered folding mechanism, which add weight.
And then, of course, there are such amenities as the neck warmer, which, according to Bentley, “makes open-air driving an appealing and comfortable prospect even on the cooler days of spring and autumn.”