BBC – Autos – Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible

9 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on BBC – Autos – Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible

California’s epic and terrain has featured in countless making it the world’s biggest set.

Slicing through Central Valley at 80mph in the Continental GT Speed Convertible, Gould’s 1970 recording of Piano Sonata No 11 emanating the Naim audio system (a option), a driver can appreciate not the voices of the piano and its player, but a and even fainter element: the rhythmic creaking of the folding that Gould used concerts and recording sessions.

quality of this sort a car stereo is one thing. Sound of this sort in a vehicle can vault from a standstill to in 4.1 seconds, on to a top speed of 205mph, is matter entirely.

The Speed is the newest member of Bentley’s GT line, and by its maker’s watch the four-seat convertible in production. It the same brutish yet civilised first unveiled at the Continental Paris motor show in 2002, but has received numerous primarily beneath the bonnet.

There lurks an upgraded of the W12 engine that has powered GTs and, for a brief but glorious Volkswagen Group peers the sleeper VW Phaeton sedan for a In Speed tune, the twin-turbocharged unit generates 616 horsepower and 590 of torque, reflecting a not-so-insignificant from the already staggering and 516lb-ft of the base 12-cylinder GT. (A GT, introduced in 2012, generates and 487lb-ft of torque.)

Tarmac-chewing like this deserves a long, varied road San Francisco to Los Angeles and back, in the inland valley’s Interstate 5 and the Highway 1. A preproduction model in a demure shade of metallic called Dark Cashmere was for the drive, its key fob emblazoned with a “B”.

A first, tentative foray downtown San Francisco was less enjoyable, given the usual mix of motorists and oblivious pedestrians, but a confidence-building exercise. Driving a car a suggested retail price of ($270,215 as tested), a state of assertiveness is preferable to a state of fear.

Roughly 100 miles of the city, there was opportunity to some awe. With the ZF automatic transmission in Drive the Bentley is whisper-quiet at highway the W12 loafing along at 1,200rpm in top But depress the “B” on the sharply shift knob, pull the into Sport and a deep, burble from the exhaust that the erstwhile boulevardier has into a very different

Pull over. Wait for the to clear. Plant the drilled accelerator pedal into the $400 deep-pile carpet. In the it takes to blurt out one’s or prayer of choice, the speed has been obliterated.

The car is just getting warmed up, and it is clear that the bulk of its will go untapped, leading to of its unrestricted, Autobahn-storming performance. Williams, Bentley’s director of engineering, was called on to share thoughts about the Speed at

“It’s very planted, stable,” he said. “At 160, you can almost take hands off the wheel.” Asked top-down performance, Williams was matter of fact. “You can do 200 miles per hour with the down. We engineer it to do that, and off on those criteria.”

Daydreams of superhighways aside, the Bentley swift and pleasant work of I-5 With the cloth lid off, noise was little more a soft ruffle. Yellow-petalled blurred by the roadside. Sunlight off a glove box finished in deeply dark fiddleback eucalyptus. A mechanism built into the and cooled, hand-stitched leather seat kneaded back from sacrum to shoulder

Topping up at a watering hole on in Los Angeles, the Speed revealed it was averaging about 17 miles per a figure that would to 15mpg by journey’s end.

the beeline straightaway of I-5, a remained: How would the two-and-three-quarter machine cope with technical terrain? The following a high-altitude detour through National Forest provided an

Intuitively, a car this big, heavy, this plush seem ill suited to whipping curves edged with drop-offs. Yet the harder it was pushed, the the Bentley gripped, its all-wheel 40:60 front-to-rear torque rooting the 21in Pirelli P tires to the road, its Electronic Programme shaving off any rough and all the while, its self-leveling air suspension things on a reassuringly even

The sun hammered down, the W12’s cackle echoed off the canyon and a nagging sensation that the scenario was somehow rather only made it feel all the illicitly right. Could it been more right if the shifters were mounted to the wheel rather than the so that while slaloming through the twists the driver squeeze off a downshift rather fumbling with the directional stalk? Perhaps.

But this is at straws.

The next morning, a bite to eat in Solvang, a picturesque hamlet in the Santa Ynez it was time for the Conti GT Speed to go coastal. A few taps of the multimedia summoned Judas Priest’s masterwork, Ram It Down, from the CD stashed in the glove box. The growled hungrily, a heavy war cry erupted from the speakers as it barrelled toward the Pacific, the was once again utterly, in its element.

To read about TopGear’s to breach 200mph in the Continental GT Convertible, pick up the April issue of the magazine.

Vital 2014 Bentley Continental GT Convertible

Base price: including $2,725 destination

As tested: $270,215

EPA fuel 12mpg city, 20mpg

Drivetrain: 6-litre W12 engine; automatic transmission

Major Carbon-ceramic brakes ($13,875); for Bentley Premium Audio ($7,300); adaptive cruise ($2,730); rear-view camera massage seats and seat to front seats ($930)

A sensation that the whole was somehow rather wrong made it feel all the more right.

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