Those of you who read our magazine religiously might recall the time columnist Ezra Dyer raced - and beat - a FedEx truck from New York City to Miami. In a Bentley Continental GTC. It was, he concluded, "a car that fell out of the awesome tree and hit every branch on the way down." It appears the awesome tree has since grown a few more branches: meet the Bentley Continental GTC Speed.
Debuting at Detroit next week, the GTC Speed is the latest addition to Bentley's high-performance line, which already includes extra-fast versions of the Continental GT coupe and Continental Flying Spur sedan. Like those models, the convertible starts with a boost in power, its 6.0-liter twin-turbo W-12 pumping out 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. Shifting via a six-speed automatic transmission, the GTC Speed will go from 0 to 60 mph in an estimated 4.5 seconds - 0.3 second quicker than the dog Dyer drove - all the way to 195 mph with the top down (you can reach 200 mph if you close the roof, but you should probably slow down a bit first).
Suspension enhancements include wider, stickier tires, stiffer bushings, and dampening control tuned for a firmer, more responsive ride. Bentley's massive carbon-ceramic brakes (16.5-inch front rotors) are optional on all GTCs. Bentley says it did not need to make any changes to the structure, as the standard GTC already has an "exceptionally rigid" body.
All GTCs receive a slight exterior update, namely in the form of a slightly more vertical, squared-off grill, which provides a more distinctive profile while allowing increased airflow to the beefed up W-12. GTC Speed owners will be able to distinguish their ride from those of lesser millionaires thanks to a tinted grill, a chin spoiler, wider tailpipes, and standard 20-inch wheels. There's also a subtle deck lid spoiler to provide downforce at crazier speeds. Inside, the GTC Speed has diamond-quilted hide seats, drilled-alloy pedals, and of course, some classy badges.
Bentley has not released pricing yet, but one can expect it to come in at about $225,000 - about $25,000 more than a plain-Jane GTC.
It might seem the wrong time, worldwide depression and all, to introduce an absurdly expensive version of an already absurdly expensive car, but the timing is actually very important for Bentley. The carmaker has struggled in recent months as much as anyone else, and had to put its workers on extended holiday shutdown due to rising inventory. The Continental GTC is the brand's best-selling product in North America and has helped it appeal to a new generation of the wealthy. Bentley expects the GTC Speed to continue this trend and account for two-thirds of GTC sales worldwide. We can only hope it inspires more pursuits in Gonzo journalism, as well.
To read more about the 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed, go to our 2009 Detroit auto show blogs coverage. All the latest blogs from the Editors of Automobile Magazine can be found HERE. We've got our whole staff wandering the floor at Cobo Hall bringing back live photos and more information about all the new debuts from Detroit.
For complete coverage of the 2009 Detroit auto show, click HERE.