This Year's Impressive Crop Of Ultra-Fast Super Cars

bentley continental gt speed

Photo: Bentley Motors

Climb behind the wheel of the new apple-green 2013 Continental GT Speed, and whatever notions you have about driving a Bentley go out the powered window.The car will make you grin from ear to ear—and that gleeful feeling ratchets up on Germany’s infamous Autobahn, where speed limits matter little. The $215,000 Continental GT Speed (bentleymotors.com) can hit 205 miles per hour, but traffic concerns constrained us to a comfortable 140 miles per hour.

Check out the other ultra-fast cars >

The two-door sedan boasts a six-liter, twin-turbo W-12 engine and can sprint from zero to 60 miles per hour in four seconds. You won’t, however, feel like a rocket man—the super-smooth ride made it feel as though we were well below an American speed limit.

Our road trip began after a night’s stay at the elegant Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich (Promenadeplatz 2–6; 49-89-21-20-0; bayerischerhof.de). The next destination was the InterContinental Resort overlooking Berchtesgaden (Hintereck 1; 1-800-652-3705; ichotelsgroup.com), an area famous for being Adolf Hitler’s Alpine retreat.

The InterContinental is built on the site of a villa once owned by Nazi henchman Hermann Göring. Though some scribes have dubbed travel to Berchtesgaden a trip to “evil mountain,” 50 years of allied occupation seems to have quieted the ghosts of World War II. The hotel is lovely and home to some stunning views.

Back on the road, we realised there are few seats more luxurious for enjoying the Bavarian countryside than the one in the Bentley GT Speed.

The cabin interior features diamond-quilted, perforated leather on all four seats, door trims and rear-quarter panels. An eight-inch touch screen controls navigation and entertainment options, among them an impressive 11-speaker setup from Naim, the British audio company.

The return trip included a detour through parts of the Austrian Alps, where the car exhibited superb handling capabilities, particularly in the sport mode, on the windy road leading to a delicious coffee-and-strudel break across the border at the Feuriger Tatzlwurm Hotel Resort & Spa (D-83080 Oberaudorf; 49-80-34-3008-0; tatzlwurm.de), which is named for a mythical cat-size Alpine dragon and located in Oberaudorf, Germany. Everyone smiled as the Continental GT Speed pulled away, and while the car does indeed take the cake (or, in this case, strudel?), Bentley doesn’t have a lock on fast autos.

Take a look at these other models—from the likes of Audi, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla and Jaguar—and hit the road.

Check out the other ultra-fast cars >
More from Departures:

World’s Most Thrilling Drives >

Unforgettable Road Trips >

Here’s To Luxury Cars >

This story was originally published by Departures.

Audi S8

You might think that driving the Audi S8 ($110,000), with its top speed of 155 miles per hour and ability to zoom from zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds, would be frustrating under the constraints of a 40 miles per hour speed limit.

But if the roads are curvy like those around Bear Mountain in New York's lower Hudson Valley, the experience is still vastly entertaining.

The Audi S-Series (S6, S7 and S8) offers sportier versions of the German automaker's A-Class cars. What makes the S8 fun to drive is the adaptive air suspension.

The comfort mode keeps things, well, comfortable; switch to the dynamic mode and find a four-door sedan that handles like a sports car. The difference is most notable on the bigger S8, but the S7 and S6 employ the same technology.

The S8 packs a V-8 engine, which is smaller than previous incarnations but offers 16 per cent more power at 520 hp.

These S-Class cars also use a great fuel-conservation trick: At highway speeds, four of the eight cylinders deactivate--a move that leaves no audible impression, thanks to some very sophisticated noise-cancellation technology.

audiusa.com.

2014 Corvette

The 2014 incarnation of the new Corvette won't be unveiled until January 13, 2013, but it is already creating a buzz, thanks to a new direct--fuel injection engine that some observers say is comparable to that of a Porsche 911.

Called the L1, the new 6.2-liter V-8 engine offers 450 hp, 450 foot-pounds of torque and acceleration from zero to 60 miles per hour in four seconds.

Perhaps just as remarkable is the projected fuel consumption--in excess of 26 miles per gallon on the highway.

gm.com.

Jaguar F-Type Convertible

Jaguar's new F-Type two-seat convertible hits the streets next summer, with the rear-drive car offered in three configurations: a standard F-Type (from $69,000) with a supercharged V-6 engine with 340 hp; a sport version (from $81,000) that boosts the V-6 to 380 hp; and a supercharged V-8 with 495 hp (from $92,000).

Features include a deployable rear spoiler and hidden door handles, and the top goes up in 12 seconds.

jaguarusa.com.

Lexus LF-LC

The future of fast hybrids may be seen in the LF-LC Blue concept car.

The glass wraparound roof and deeply recessed headlamps draw the eye, but this car features a body that is a mix of carbon fibre and lightweight aluminium and gets power from a smaller battery pack.

A pop-up LCD screen inside lets you enter more complex instructions for navigation and other tasks.

lexus.com.

Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS Black Series

A Black Series designation indicates everything gets turned up a notch.

For the SLS, this means a rise from 583 to 622 hp with a decrease in torque from 479 to 468 foot-pounds.

The SLS Black Series stands a little wider and has a revamped two-mode suspension system.

Speed is rated at zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 196 miles per hour.

The car is due in the summer of 2013. Final pricing is still under wraps, but expect a tag in the $300,000 range.

mbusa.com.

Porsche Cayman

Consider the 2014 Porsche Cayman--due next spring--a Porsche Boxster with a fixed roof.

A 2.7-liter, direct-injected, six-cylinder engine produces 275 hp for a top speed of 165 miles per hour.

A sport version offers 375 hp, a maximum speed of 175 miles per hour and a jump from zero to 60 in 4.7 seconds (that is .7 seconds faster than the original).

porsche.com.

Tesla Model S

After a relatively small production run in 2012, Tesla expects to put 20,000 of its Model S electric vehicles on the road in 2013.

The Model S is receiving design accolades from many; the five-door car has a range of about 265 miles.

Interior features include a 17-inch touch screen with Internet capabilities.

Prices go from $57,400 to $105,400, depending largely on the power of the car's internal battery.

teslamotors.com.

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