Every one of us has driven a car that, for one reason or another, is significant for any given reason. Be it the oldest or the newest, slowest or the fastest, or any other number of titles we apply to a given vehicle. I had a 1987 Honda Prelude that was my first vehicle. The 1982 BMW 633 CSi that serves as The Uberbird is the oldest car I have ever purchased. For one glorious weekend I held in my hands the keys to a different type of vehicle: the 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed, a vehicle that is both the most expensive and the most powerful vehicle I have ever driven. One question remains after my very comfortable three days with this British-bred Luxury Rocket Sled: is all the power worth the price?Before I get to the actual cost, let’s focus on the power – this 2010 Continental is not your average ultra-exclusive luxury sports car, a term that might not sit well with everyone. Hints to its non-average-ness abound: the word “Speed” is stamped into the wide door sills. The front fascia is more aggressive. Dark colored 20″ wheels fill the arches, and the tone from the twin exhaust tips can quickly go from elegantly subtle to emphatically loud. These would all be but poseur accessories were it not for the 6.0L W12 engine utilizing a pair of turbochargers to produce 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. Think about that number for a moment…600 hp. I have been fortunate enough to drive some powerful cars, yet the Continental GTC Speed has about 50 more hp than anything I’d in which I’d previously pressed the go-fast-now pedal. Sure the GTC weighs in at 5,500 lbs, but this double-V engine makes sure it gets up and goes. Being a Bentley and not a Ferrari, it doesn’t leave the line screaming it’s Pirellis off. The AWD system simply grabs hold, the power builds up like a fast moving wave, and I quickly find myself driving on the wrong side of the law. The GTC Speed hits 60 mph from a standstill in the mid four second range (which I tested) and can blast onward to a max speed of 195 mph with the top down or 200 with it up (which I did not test). Since this is indeed a Bentley, it’s not all about performance – but also about a smooth ride and comfortable interior space. The inside of this car is filled with materials commonly found in luscious winter vacation homes or large, classic sports fishing boats. For example, the interior wood trim is not just wood trim but unbleached Burr Walnut with an individually mirrored veneer. The vents are not just vents but Bulls Eye Fascia Air Vents with Chrome Organ stop controls. The clock is not simply a clock, but a quite wonderfully placed Breitling timepiece. It all sounds wonderful, but is it actually comfortable inside? Quite. The quilted leather seats, which probably came from non-Californian and quite unhappy cows, are good at two very important things: high-levels of comfort and plenty of support when I want to see how well the all-wheel drive and Torsen center differential work together. A bonus feature hidden behind the quilts: after a hard day of investment banking/rapping/ponzi scheming, I can hit the switch and get a wonderful back massage. The interior is not all acres of comfortable hide and polished wood though. The center nav/audio screen seems oddly outdated for such an otherwise excellent cabin space. New Infinitis have a nicer setup. I’m not knocking on Infiniti…but I was expecting a bit more gloss and tech from this GTC Speed when it came to a central interior point. On the outside, there is no denying one fact: the Speed is a looker. You can argue, fight, and claim otherwise, but this is a good looking car. The aggressive lower front fascia moves up towards the easily identifiable grille and quad headlamps, then it is back over the sides past the awesomely dark tinted 20″ multi-spoked alloy wheels. The wheels rise up into the slightly bulging rear hips where the car rises to the rear deck with an integrated spoiler, past a large B on the trunk and down into the king-size tail lamps, where the eye finally rests at the large dual exhaust outlets. At the beginning I mentioned two things; power and price. I have never driven a car with this much power but nor this expensive. About that “expensive”…the base price for a 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed is $231,400.00. This one you see here had a few boxes ticked on the order form, including a Ghost White Pearlescent paint job for $7,890 and Contrast Stitching for $1,000, to ring in a suggested retail price of $253,285.00. That is a lot of money for a lot of car. Is it really worth that much? This GTC Speed is for people who play in a different world than most of us. The car is clean, comfortable, luxurious and wildly powerful, but I still have trouble with that price tag. I think it’s because I am not the target market, and I don’t currently have the means to step into the Berluti Olga III cap toes of the person who is considering a new Bentley. In the end, the 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed leaves me puzzled: -Is it an insanely powerful, AWD car? Yes. -Is it a pleasure to look at from the outside? Don’t lie – you know it is. -Is it filled with exquisite materials put together with old-world handmade craftsmanship? Right-o! -Is it too expensive? Most probably. -Did I enjoy every minute of my time with the car? You bet your collateralized debt obligation I did. This car is part of a dying breed of vehicles, instantly identifiable even to non enthusiasts. You might be likely to hear someone say “Is that they new Hyundai Elantra or the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class?” But you won’t hear them say, “Is that a Bentley?” They know its a Bentley.
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