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Bentley Continental GTC Speed
8/10

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Bentley Continental GTC Speed

Driven June 2009

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A piffling 20 extra grand. That's all it takes to get you a Bentley Continental GTC Speed over the standard GTC, and it's 20 grand that means nothing to potential buyers who want the latest and greatest Conti cabrio. Does an extra £20k make a difference over and above £136,000, anyway? No. The Speed is £153,400, and for those in a position to buy one, it's a bargain.

The differences between the Speed and the standard GTC are the same as on the coupe and four-door Speeds. It has darker radiator grilles, sits a bit lower on sports suspension and exclusive 20in alloys and there's a rear spoiler and wider exhaust pipes.

Inside you get special Speed scuff plates, the Mulliner-spec interior with diamond-quilted leather seats and an exclusive Speed sports steering wheel.

All very nice, but more impressive still is the extra power and torque delivered by the big 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 engine. The Speed develops 600bhp, compared with the standard GTC's 552, while torque is up 15 per cent to 553lb ft, available right across the rev range. It delivers its immense thrust with almost arrogant ease - nail the alloy throttle pedal from standstill and you'll hit 100mph 10.6 seconds later, in one, brief, effortless waft.

Despite weighing two-and-a-half tonnes, this is one of the fastest production cars in the world. It will run all the way to 200mph with the roof up and 195mph with it down. Difficult to confirm what that feels like anywhere other than on a giant test oval, but it's reassuring to know it can do it if you're in a hurry. And this gigantic four-wheel-drive land yacht is composed and comfortable and safe at pretty much any speed you care to dial in, on any kind of road.

Try as you might, and no matter how many footballers drive them, you can't help but love the Conti. Nothing else gives this combination of power, refinement and class. And it's significant that the Speed version of the GT Coupe has become the top-selling Conti GT around the world since its launch in 2007. Bentley expects this GTC Speed to make up two thirds of all GTC sales. People who can afford it will just buy it, because there's no car quite like a Conti.

Bill Thomas

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