In the exclusive world of senior-league exotics, there are sports cars and there are luxury cars - and then there's the Bentley Continental GT Speed. Operating in what we believe is a class of one, the GT Speed's raison d'etre boils down to serving up a wholly unique mixture of dynamism and world-class refinement. Simply put, it's an ultra-luxury car capable of throwing down supercar numbers: 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 203 mph.         

Amplifying this one-of-a-kind driving experience is the GT Speed Convertible, which commands a $24,000 premium over its hardtop stable mate. While this might seem like a steep price to pay for a soft-top, the GT features one of the finest fabric units in the business - and here's why. With the push of a button, the power top opens and closes in a mere 23 seconds and will even function at speeds up to 20 mph. Once open, the top folds completely flat so as to not disrupt the Continental's contoured silhouette. Whereas virtually every convertible is capable of delivering an enjoyable open-top experience in warm weather, the Bentley is a true standout in cooler temperatures. With the rear seats unoccupied, mounting the removable windscreen effectively eliminates wind turbulence at highway speeds. In conjunction with integrated neck warmers and heated seats that actually maintain the desired level of warmth, the Continental GT could be considered the ultimate multi-season convertible. Perhaps best of all is the way in which this four-layer soft-top isolates road and wind noise better than most hard-top systems.

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Sophisticated Thrills 

Tipping the scales at 5500 lbs, one might assume the GT Speed's performance prowess only applies to straight lines. Although the smooth, effortless manner in which the GT Speed accelerates deserves high praise, perhaps more impressive is how the GT Speed Convertible belies its portly curb weight to deliver a remarkably engaging-yet-utterly civilized driving experience. Much of this physics-defiance is owed to Bentley's continuously-adjustable pneumatic suspension, razor-sharp electromechanical steering, and full-time all-wheel-drive system that can seamlessly reapportion 85 percent of available power to the rear wheels during spirited driving and 65 percent to the front wheels for increased traction on slippery surfaces. 

But for all its dynamic dexterity, the Continental GT Speed Convertible's most redeeming quality is ease of use. Unlike most exotics, right off the bat even the most technophobic driver can manage the Continental's creature comforts and controls without resorting to the owner's manual. In other words, simplicity is elegance, and the Bentley Continental GT Speed is a class-leader in that regard. 

Base price: $255,325

As tested: $274,650

Seating: 2+2

Engine: 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12

Output: 626 horsepower/605 lb-ft of torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Drivetrain: Full-time AWD 

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/20

 

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