Review: 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed

Sam Smith
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2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed

For some people, global economic hardship doesn't amount to a hill of beans. When the stock market nosedives, these folks simply chopper onto a yacht and bob around the Caribbean for a few years to wait it out. The 600-hp Bentley Continental GTC Speed is their kind of car.

On paper, the GTC Speed doesn't work. It weighs 5478 pounds; its 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W-12 boots out a staggering 553 lb-ft of torque; and it rides on twenty-inch wheels and prophylactic-thin rubber. Also, it has no roof. Under normal circumstances, that devil's list of excess would add up to a quivering, stiff-legged mess.

Like the people who buy them, however, Bentleys are not normal. The cars from Crewe are known for defying the laws of physics, and the GTC Speed is no exception. Essentially a mildly tweaked version of the 552-hp Continental GTC, the Speed boasts the same jaw-dropping competence found in all modern Bentleys. Stiffer suspension, reduced engine pumping losses, and a raised top speed-200 mph with the top up, as opposed to the ordinary GTC's 195-mph fizzle-make the Speed more potent than its pedestrian sibling, but Crewe's legendary genius remains. Soft springs, a stiff unibody, and fiendishly well-tuned dampers do the seemingly impossible: they allow an open-topped, elephantine land ship to ride and handle better than 90 percent of the cars on the planet. Thanks to the tweaked W-12, the 60-mph sprint now takes just 4.5 seconds (according to the factory), down from the standard GTC's 4.8 seconds.

HAVE THE LITTLE PEOPLE RECOVERED YET? Like many Bentleys, the GTC Speed specializes in compassion-free capability. It doesn't stir much emotion in its driver, and as such, it works best when viewed as a tool-a tool for indifferently dispatching a sunny mountain road, for one-upping the country-club crowd, or for supporting your tuckus while you neck with the heiress von Snooty and murmur sweet, offshore nothings into her lily-white ear. Crewe's latest may be a yacht, but as yachts go, it's one heck of a way to ride out a recession.

Price: $231,400
Engine: 6.0L twin-turbo W-12, 600 hp, 553 lb-ft
Drive: 4-wheel

2010 Bentley Arnage

Bentley's old-money Arnage is now just plain old, and an all-new, even-more-expensive sedan will make its debut at Frankfurt this fall. It will compete directly with the Rolls-Royce Phantom, and it will be longer than before. And even quicker.

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