The 2015 Bentley GT Speed Convertible: Fast Elegant and Open

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Benz2Bentley is a very interesting marque, conceived by its founder, W.O. Bentley, its first car hit the road in 1919, guid- ed by a concept to provide both elegance and performance. Did you know that Bentleys won the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans six times (four straight times in 1927-1930) and, returning to the venue, again won the race in 2003? A lesser known fact—Bentley also raced in the India- napolis 500 in 1923. The story goes that the brand learned enough from its racing pursuits seven decades prior that it retired from the circuits, but it never lost its mojo.

Bentley remained an independent company but financial pressures, no doubt hastened by the Depression, led to it being acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1931. The family ties lasted until Bentley was acquired by Volkswagen in 1998. During the Rolls/Bentley years, some of the two brands’ cars were very similar save for their grilles and badgings, yet Bentley continued to present the world with some very impressive performance luxury models. Using as its advertising slogan “the silent sports car,” Bentley has given the world a number of amazingly elegant and quick rides.

What distinguishes the Speed versions of today’s Bentleys from their Clark Kent brethren? Let’s start with the looks, which are quite stunning. The front air dam and rear spoiler, coupled with the dark chrome grille and front air intakes, immediately set the GT Speed Convertible (about $265,000 base) apart from the “regular” convertible Continental GTs. As a further visual distinction, the Speed rides on 21” alloy wheels unique to the model. Enter the car and the visual cues continue, with luxurious diamond stitch- ing, “Speed” illuminated door plates, a special Speed sport steering wheel as well as trick drilled-alloy foot pedals and gearshift knob. Did I mention the jeweled oil and fuel filler caps? How could I forget?

Start it up and you are welcomed with a throaty roar due to different tailpipes and other Bentley tricks. Isn’t that what you would expect from the most powerful two-door Bentley currently offered, with twin-turbos boost- ing the 12-cylinder’s power up to 626 horses twisting a mighty 605 pounds of torque? Then again, if you want a car to move like this—0-60 in 4.1 seconds— while carrying some weight (5,501 pounds, it’s quoted), you have to put some serious muscle up front. Not surprisingly, the Speed keeps on pulling up to a maximum of 203 miles per hour (if that’s not quite fast enough, order the GT Speed coupe, as it will hit 206). I assume that it is recommended to keep the four-layer top in place for high-speed runs and, if you do, it will be so quiet that you’ll forget you’re in a drop-top—it even has a headliner.

If you like stately elegance, awesome power—basically the triumvirate of quick, stable and beautiful—spend some time with the Bentley GT Speed Convertible. You will be glad that you did. And with a spectrum of almost 100 color choices for the body, a wide range of hues for the convertible top, and myriad options for hides and veneers, your bespoke Bentley will stand out from the rest.

Have you noticed the letters “AMG” on the backside of some models? They denote the company formed in 1967 to build and test performance engines for M-B and for many years, was one of the top “tuners” for Mercedes

automobiles, a shop that adjusted and tweaked the M-B sedans and sports cars into higher-performance machines. Mercedes and AMG formalized their re- lationship in 1986 and then Mercedes purchased the balance in 2005, at which point AMG became part of the M-B family, serving as its performance division. Rarely has a decades-long betrothal led to a more harmonious and productive marriage.

While the AMGs of yore were more likely to be high-output screamers than the standard Mercedes that had entered the AMG magic machine, AMGs to- day run the gamut—they can be M-Bs with similar performance stats, but with some carbon or plastic bits and pieces that enhance the looks over that of their unadorned cousins, or they can be all-out wailers as AMG never lost its ability to wring havoc from reciprocating metal. Case in point: who do you think makes the twin-turbo V-12 engine in the Huayra, a 6.0-liter engine that motivates Pa- gani’s $1.5 million beauty with 700 horsepower and 738 foot-pounds of torque? Yep, AMG, which has made engines for Paganis since 1999.

The S-class coupes in general start at about $120,000, but the S63 Coupe starts at close to $40,000 above that and, if you get really trigger-happy with the build sheet, the sticker could blow past $200,000. Only the Mercedes-Maybach S600 and the Mercedes S65 AMG sedan/coupe have higher base prices ($189,350 and $222,000/$230,900, respectively—and you thought that the S63 and S65 were “only two numbers apart”).

The S63 AMG 4MATIC Coupe is a classic sports-tourer. At over 4,500 pounds, the car has the heft to make it a great road car but with all that oomph under the hood—its 5.5 liter V-8 utilizes a twin-turbo setup that pumps out a very impressive 577 horses and even more awesome 664 foot-pounds of torque (that’s some serious twist)—it can hold its own on any open road or at the stop- light grand prix. Its 0-60 times are below four seconds, which puts the “muscle cars” of the 1960s to shame. The list of features of today’s S63 is equally impres- sive. Aside from the superlative power plant, the seven-speed automatic trans- mission coupled with four-wheel drive puts all the power to the pavement. Add perforated and internally-vented compound disc brakes all around and, it stops as well as it goes. Tick the boxes next to the 12-way power front seats for the options to add cooling, heating and massage, and long trips will be a breeze (so to speak). And here’s something that you weren’t expecting—a cabin fragrance system, with four distinct bouquet vials to choose from providing just the right parfum through its own ducting system. M-B’s attention to detail and safety ex- tends to the active LED headlights, which illuminate and darken specific LEDs to provide the best lighting without negatively impacting oncoming drivers.

A car that’s both great to look at with performance that can back up its AMG cred, the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4MATIC Coupe is a great marriage of looks and output, at home on any road or circuit, no matter whether it’s time for a cruise, a sprint or a high-speed run.

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