by Jay Traugott
The convertible body style is not as popular as it once was. Automakers are more interested in building highly profitable trucks, SUVs, and crossovers instead. Not Bentley. The British marque remains true to the brand's century-long spirit of driving pleasure as the wind smacks you in the face at blazing speeds.
Meet the 2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible, the most driver-focused open-top machine the brand has ever built. Like its coupe counterpart, the GT Speed Convertible is the more powerful version of the already impressive GT Convertible. What's the new secret sauce? Namely an improved chassis and an updated all-wheel steering system.
And its heart lies something that'll soon be gone forever: the 6.0-liter W12 engine. But it's not gone yet. This is a celebration of internal combustion at its finest. Combined with hand-crafted luxury throughout and outstanding performance, the new Continental GT Speed Convertible checks all the right boxes and then some.
See trim levels and configurations:
|GT Speed Convertible||
6.0L Twin-Turbo W12 Gas
The most obvious exterior feature is the new tailored soft top. It can be raised and lowered in just 19 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph. A total of seven roof colors are available, among them Black, Blue, Claret, Grey, and a modern-day interpretation of British tweed. There are even eight interior roof liner finishes like New Red and Magnolia.
Bentley says the advanced Z-fold roof has undergone high levels of noise reduction to keep the cabin ultra quiet at cruising speeds. A combination of new insulation materials, new operating mechanism, and other sealing improvements make this possible. Amazingly, the new convertible is quieter than the previous generation coupe.
Other 'Speed' exterior styling enhancements include the dark tint radiator grille and lower bumper grille, sports sills, and special badging on the front fender. A set of 22-inch forged wheels can be had in either Bright Silver or Black Gloss finish. Other notable exterior bits include unique fuel and oil filler caps and an illuminated Bentley display on the outer treadplate.
The Continental GT Speed Convertible gets an Alcantara steering wheel while a Speed insignia can be found on the passenger-side dash. Buyers can choose from 15 main leather colors and 11 secondary. Diamond-stitched, Speed-embroidered headrests are standard. There's even a neck warmer integrated into the heated and ventilated seats.
Piano Black veneer is standard while Crown Cut, Dark Strain Burr Walnut, and Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus dash trims are no-cost options. Still not good enough? There's optional open pore Dark Strain Burr Walnut veneer, Crown Cut Walnut, and Koa.
Additional Speed-only touches include special pedals and treadplate plaques. Buyers can further opt for a dark tint aluminum center console finish.
Like the coupe, the convertible comes powered by an uprated version of the hand-built 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12, now totaling 650 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 mph requires just 3.6 seconds (only 0.1 seconds slower than the coupe) and top speed is 208 mph. Power goes to all four wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The AWD system has been recalibrated in all modes for the Speed. When in Sport mode, for example, more torque is routed to the rear wheels and it shifts twice as fast compared to the regular W12 convertible. Engaged in Comfort mode, grip is better balanced between the front and rear wheels.
Numerous upgrades to the active air suspension and the anti-roll control system allow for improved body control and ride comfort, Bentley says. Meanwhile, stopping power is provided by an available carbon ceramic brake system.
Bentley has not released official pricing as of this time, but it will very likely exceed that of the previous generation model's $275,000 starting figure. We doubt this will deter buyers. Sales will get underway later this year.
Competition in the ultra-luxury convertible segment continues to dwindle now that Mercedes has discontinued the S-Class drop top. This leaves the Rolls-Royce Dawn, BMW M8 Convertible, and Mercedes-AMG SL. Audi doesn't compete in this segment.
There's no doubt the new GT Speed Convertible is a special car. It's something only the extremely wealthy can afford and Bentley regularly notes these customers love the seemingly endless customization options. The W12's time is limited but that's something to worry about later. The new Continental GT Speed Convertible is here right now and it wants to party.