The $250,000 Speed Convertible is the flagship of Bentley’s historic Continental family. With a top speed of 202 mph, it’s the world’s fastest four-passenger convertible (though “four-passenger” is a small fiction). It’s beautifully designed inside and out, spare-no-expense opulent and engineered to the automotive world’s highest standards.
Most of us inhabit a world in which the thought of spending $50,000 on a car is beyond the pale and $250,000 explodes the head. For those with the resources, though, the Speed Convertible is one of a handful of very pricey, very good alternatives.
All-wheel-drive is standard, with a 40 front/60 rear torque split that replicates the dynamics of a rear-drive car.
The Speed Convertible is outfitted with almost every conceivable extravagance, from high-end quilted leather and real wood veneers to its Naim for Bentley sound system that produces crystal-clear audio with tremendous dynamic range — even with the top down, at speed. Instead of a heavier hardtop, Bentley uses a four-layer canvas lid that seals so well that almost no road or wind noise intrudes. It raises and lowers in seconds, and at up speeds of up to 20 mph.
Downsides include scant casual storage and cupholders that sit out, uncovered, in the center console, for all the world to see. Bluetooth is not available, relegating the Bentley to a kind of second-tier status among the young and the wealthy.
Should you venture out into the cool evening, optional fans blow warm air at the back of your neck. The front seats are heated, with optional ventilation and massage.
As the young people I encountered explained during my week with the car, the Speed Convertible and its 205-mph Coupe sibling are favored by entertainers and athletes. Apparently, the button-down money goes either to Bentley’s top-of-the-line Mulsanne or to one of a variety of Rolls-Royces. Makes sense. The Speed Convertible is an athletic car that wants to be driven. Its 6.0-liter W-12 engine makes 590 pound feet of torque between 2,000 and 5,000 RPM, rendering its 5,500-pound bulk as invisible as a magician’s rabbit. Zero-to-60 happens in just 4.1 seconds.