PHOTOS: We Spent The Weekend With A $US272,220 Bentley Convertible

2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible Alex Davies / Business InsiderWe spent some time with a $US272,220 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible.

Although it is best known for its huge sedans like the Mulsanne, Bentley insists it makes cars that are meant to be driven by their owners, not chauffeurs.

After spending a few days in the 2013 Continental GT Speed Convertible, we believe them. The GT Speed is a real driver’s car, with 616 horsepower coming from a W12 engine, permanent all-wheel drive, and a quite fun Sport mode.

But we’ve had just as much fun driving in cars that cost a tiny fraction of this one. The GT Speed has a $US238,700 MSRP; the well-equipped one we tested runs for $US272,220.

So what do you get for all that dough? Here’s a full breakdown of everything that comes standard (like the knurled gear knob and “seatbelt presenter”) and the often superfluous options (try carbon fibre panels in the backseat and a neck warmer for chilly nights).

First off, let's acknowledge it's a great looking car. Not the sexiest we've ever seen, but it does a better job than most convertibles of combining comfort with performance.

OK, standard features first. Hands down the best one: the W12 engine that produces 616 horsepower. (Enough to go from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds.)

There's trunk space for two people's bags. The car seats four, but the backseat is so small, no one will tolerate sitting in it for any kind of trip.

The 8-speed transmission is a lot of fun in Sport mode.

The knurled gear lever feels good against your hand, and is moderately fun to use in 'manual mode.'

You can also control gear changes with the slick, wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Down low, you find 'drilled alloy sports foot pedals' and tons of room for your left foot.

The hide on the seats and the door panels is quilted and perforated.

This treadplate badge, visible only when the door is open, reminds you that this is a sporty ride.

With the 'seat belt presenter,' you don't have to risk hurting your wealthy back by twisting back to grab the buckle.

Bi-xenon projector headlights and rain sensing windshield wipers are standard.

Each car comes with a leather bound driver's manual.

And AM, FM, and satellite radio, along with all sorts of info about what's going on in the car, like tire pressure.

For reasons we can't fathom, the map function doesn't zoom in any further than this. (That may not be the case for the navigation system, which we didn't use. But either way, you should be able to see roads other than major interstates on the map.)

We're not sure what this thing, set between the rear seats, is for. Our best bet is that is has something to do with channeling sound from the trunk into the cabin.

So far, our GT Speed costs $US238,700. Time to add some options!

The '3-spoke, single tone hide trimmed' steering wheel adds $US480 to the price tag.

The 'sequin blue' paint job costs $US4,395.

Want to drive the convertible on a chilly evening? Drop $US1,035 on the option neck warmers. They blow hot air, and are the best thing to happen to wealthy necks since the double Windsor knot. They were nice to have for our September test drive.

Massage and ventilation functions for the front seats: $US950.

On most Hondas, a backup camera comes standard. In the GT, it's a $US1,215 option.

(Source: Autotrader)

The gigantic 21-inch 'speed alloy wheels' with a 'dark tint finish' cost $US1,635.

The red brake calipers add another $US1,495.

For $US1,905, you get contrast stitching on the leather.

Exterior hood in dark grey metallic: $US2,125.

Throw in an excellent sound system made by Naim, with a CD changer (useful, if you still own more than one CD). $US7,300.

For $US5,385, you get carbon fibre fascia panels in the center console.

And in the backseat. We'd pass on this option.

Want a valet key, so whomever you pay to park your car can't get into the trunk? Shell out $US275.

The Bentley's engine will take you only 12 miles per gallon in the city (20 on the highway). That means you have to pay a $US2,600 gas guzzler tax.

Here's what you don't get: Any room in the backseat. The rear of this car may be great for small rich children, but it's not much use otherwise.

It feels like Bentley put the backseat in as an afterthought, and that's fine. The car is meant to be driven, and it's a lot of fun to be in the driver's seat.

But what really sets this car apart from other sporty, luxury options is the 'Bentley' name itself. That why even the air caps on the tires are marked with a 'B.'

Oh, did you forget this is a Bentley while changing the oil? Here's another reminder.

Here's another new convertible we liked a lot.

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