2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed $231,400 (as tested: $271,395)

“YEAH, YOU JUST LOST YOUR JOB AND I’M FILTHY RICH!”

Looks, style and speed, for a price.
Looks, style and speed, for a price.

In the current climate of economic malaise, it seemed obscene to roll around in a Bentley that gets 10 city miles to the (premium) gallon. I countered my natural self-consciousness with the knowledge that a Bentley isn’t just (or only) a vulgar display of wealth—the GTC Speed is a marvel of engineering, style, speed and refinement. You can see it in the artful, elegant body, hear it in its furnace of a V-12 engine and feel it in your hands, feet and guts. No apology necessary, folks—and no one I encountered out there in the world had anything but an “Ok” gesture with thumb and forefinger as they saw me roll.

Painstaking craft and elegance coupled with fierce speed and control makes the GTC one of a kind.
Painstaking craft and elegance coupled with fierce speed and control makes the GTC one of a kind.

I immediately felt, via feet and steering wheel, that the GTC speed is tuned as a sedan, meaning the gap between accelerator pedal and movement is just a hair slow. It is at speed, on the highway, where the burst of the 6.0 liter V-12 engine producing 552 horsepower and 479 pounds-feet of torque comes into its most effective play, using the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. What’s fun is the GTC’s rumble and roar, a thrill each time, and the butter-smooth ride massaging your body, soul, chi, id, chakras, whatever. It is far beyond a means to get from here to there, and every excuse I could think of to be in the car came to me during the 3 days I tested it. Bagels. Gym. Photos. Taking pals for a ride.

At $2.50 per premium gallon, it was not a cheap 4 days. Two fill-ups were over $120, and towards the end I began being much more aware mentally of the cost of going on even a short trip on a freelancer’s nickel. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing in today’s world—keeping an eye on what things cost instead of just spend, spend, spend and gasping at the bill on Doomsday.

Some petty gripes include the placement of the trunk release on the inside driver door handle right next to the window controls, resulting in my popping of the lid three times while trying to get some air. The climate system also blows air each time you start the car whether you want it to or not. Every rose has its thorn.

However, with the top down, friends in the passenger seat and rear and a 65-degree, cloudless spring day, there is no smoother, sweeter way to see how the other half rolls. – Josh Max, AutoGigolo.co

Heading off into the poorhouse, oops, the sunset
Heading off into the poorhouse, oops, the sunset

Specs:

Exterior:

Dark chromed radiator and lower grille
Twin rifled oval stainless steel sports tail pipes
Lowered sports suspension
Painted black finish to engine cover

Interior:

Unique treadplates bearing model name
Diamond quilted hide to seat facings, doors and rear quarter panels
Embroidered Bentley emblem to seat facings
Indented hide headlining
Single-tone, hide-trimmed multi-function steering wheel in a 3-spoke sports design with silver switch surround
Sporting gear lever finished in knurled chrome and hide
Drilled alloy sport foot-pedals