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Detroit show: Bentley crops GT Speed

Crewe’s missile: The Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible might weigh 2.4 tonnes, but it can sprint to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds.

Bentley Conti GT Speed drops top to set world speed mark for four-seat convertible

3 Jan 2013

HOLLYWOOD – your car is ready.

German-owned British luxury car-maker Bentley is preparing to drop the top on the world’s fastest four-seat ragtop, the 325km/h Continental GT Speed Convertible, at this month’s Detroit motor show.

Capable of blasting from standstill to 100km/h in 4.4 seconds – faster by 0.3 seconds than a Porsche Carrera S Cabriolet – the 2.4-tonne beast can whistle past 160km/h in 9.7 seconds.

The convertible is powered by the same 460kW/800Nm twin-turbo 6.0-litre W12 engine as the Continental GT Speed coupe that was unveiled at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in England and arrived in Australia in late 2012 with a price tag of $450,000 (plus on-road costs).

Peak torque of 800Nm arrives at 2000rpm and continues all the way to 5000rpm “for effortless, refined performance at all times”.

Like the coupe version, it gets ZF’s ubiquitous eight-speed automatic transmission and continuous all-wheel drive.

Bentley says the transmission was one of the major contributors to 15 per cent fuel consumption savings over the previous generation Speed, along with energy recuperation.

At 150kg heavier than the GT Speed coupe, the Speed convertible is naturally thirstier than the hardtop, slurping 14.9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle (coupe: 14.5L/100km).

Perched on massive 21-inch wheels with a unique design for the soft-top model, the GT Speed Convertible's ride height is lowered 10mm over the standard Continental GT, with computer-controlled self-leveling air suspension and active dampers for improved handling.

Bentley claims the roofless body is exceptionally rigid, “laying the perfect foundation for a more engaging driving experience”.

Bentley chairman and chief executive Wolfgang Schreiber said the GT Speed Convertible would appeal to drivers who sought 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.

“It is designed for those who accept no compromise," he said.

Bentley has used dark-tinted chrome to distinguish the convertible, around the grille and air intakes in the bumper.

The alloy wheels can also be ordered in this dark-chrome finish, or in silver if the buyer prefers.

Inside, the convertible dark-tined aluminium ‘spin finish’ dash trim – inspired by the racing Bentleys of the 1920s – along with diamond-quilted ‘Mulliner’ leather upholstery on the four seats.

Bentley has eschewed the folding metal hardtops of several other luxury convertibles to instead stick with a traditional fabric roof with four layers for insulation against heat and noise.

Bentley is yet to announce on-sale plans for Australia, but based on the four-month delay between the unveiling of the GT Speed coupe and its arrival Down Under, a launch before mid-year could be expected.

To the end of November, Bentley had sold 64 cars in Australia – up 14.3 per cent on the previous year.

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