The bad boys from Crewe are at it again, and the latest road rocket they're preparing to unleash is the 2014 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible. Making its world debut in Detroit, it puts an open-air spin on the firm's most recent ultra-performer, the Continental GT Speed. Sharing a common platform and all major mechanical bits with its hard-shelled sibling, "the world's fastest four-seat convertible" also boasts the same kind of bold appearance tweaks that further reinforce its over-achieving intent.
Like the Speed GT, the radiator and large front air intakes on the automaker's new flagship Convertible are filled with dark-chrome mesh inserts. The winged "B" badge on the hood gets a black background and the oversized elliptical exhaust outlets feature a rifled internal design. The look is set off by unique 21-inch Speed alloy wheels that can be ordered in either silver or a dark finish. Topping it all off is a 4-layer fabric power top that activates at the touch of a button.
Inside, Bentley's ultra-spec Convertible also displays a host of design cues culled from the Speed GT. Highlighting the remake is Mulliner Driving Specification diamond-tufted leather upholstery as well as an exclusive engine-turned Dark Tint Aluminum finish on the dash - a feature inspired by the legendary Le Mans-winning Bentley's of the 1920s. In typical Bentley tradition, buyers will have the chance to personalize their GT Speed Convertibles with a variety of fine wood veneers as well as Carbon Fiber trim accents. Although the car's mega roster of standard features includes a premium infotainment/navigation system with flat-panel Balanced Mode Radiator speakers, audiophiles can opt for a custom Naim for Bentley upgrade. The front buckets also incorporate neck warmers that permit top-down touring even when outside temps drop well below the normal comfort zone.
Motivating heart of the new Continental GT Speed Convertible is the most potent and fuel-efficient version of the 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 engine ever fitted to a road-going Bentley. As it does in the Continental GT Speed, here too, it makes 616 horsepower and churns out 590 lb-ft of peak torque from just 2,000 rpm. It's backed by a new close-ratio ZF 8-speed automatic transmission, and collectively, they team to help boost mpg and reduce CO2 emissions by 15 percent compared to the previous Continental Speed model. A performance-tuned, full-time, all-wheel-drive system with a 40/60 front/rear bias and a Torsen center differential ships that motive force to each corner in the most effective manner possible.
To validate the automaker's claim to fame for this awesome addition to the lineup, Bentley notes that the new Continental GT Speed Convertible can streak from 0-60 mph in just 4.1 seconds, hit 100 mph in 9.7 ticks and roll on to a top speed of 202 mph. While those figures do fall a bit short of the GT Speed's even more stunning numbers, they are seriously impressive stats for a vehicle that tips the scales at 5,500 pounds.
Underpinning the new GT Speed Convertible is a fully retuned adaptive sport suspension that brings stiffer spring and shocks, larger anti-roll bars, stouter bushings and a lower ride height. The Servotronic power steering has been recalibrated to offer more positive driver feedback and threshold mapping of the Electronic Stability Control and its Dynamic Mode have been redone to accommodate a more aggressive operating envelope. Popping the gear selector on the GT Speed Convertible's transmission into "Sport" mode also sharpens throttle response and changes shift point calibration to complement the chassis tweaks.
"Following the recent successful introduction of the GT Speed, the new GT Speed Convertible will appeal to drivers who seek the sensory thrills of the world's fastest four-seat soft-top and the practicality of a year-round grand tourer, together with unrivalled levels of luxury and refinement," noted Bentley Chairman and Chief Executive Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber. "It is designed for those who accept no compromise."
The 2014 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible will go on sale this summer. No word yet on U.S. pricing, but if precedent holds true, it's likely to start about $10,000-$20,000 beyond 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed's $225,725 base sticker.
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