Bentley’s 2023 Continental GTC Speed: A Cheetah in a Lion Suit - Kanebridge News
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Bentley’s 2023 Continental GTC Speed: A Cheetah in a Lion Suit

By Vito Racanelli
Thu, Sep 21, 2023 9:26amGrey Clock 4 min

To most driving enthusiasts, there is nothing as pleasurable as a warm day tooling round country roads in a ragtop. The smell of freshly mown lawns wafts in your nostrils; the sun’s rays bathe the atmosphere in warm tones. It doesn’t get much better.

Well, actually it does. Make the car a Bentley Continental GT. Glutton for more fun? Make that Bentley a convertible, or GTC Speed. Recently, Penta had the opportunity to wend our way around Sullivan County, New York, and put a GTC Speed through its paces.

The Drive

Given its weight, at roughly 4,800 pounds, it is no surprise that it offers a solid feel and holds the road without much effort. The GTC Speed feels a bit like a land yacht, but in a good sense. That is, when you climb aboard you know right away that you’re in for a treat and that the ride could take you anywhere. And like the U.S. Navy, the GTC Speed (standard MSRP US$317,000) projects power.

The car we drove was priced at US$379,00 because it was ladled with cushy options like a custom-made sound system, so that you can share your musical faves with your neighbours; 22-inch wheels for better grip and handling; and a high-gloss fibre finish, among many other accoutrements. A king’s ransom? Yes. However, the Bentley is often measured against the Ferrari Roma or the Mercedes Benz S65 AMG. That’s rarefied competitive air. The engineers in Crewe, England, pride themselves on making sure this GTC is capable of taking you on a long drive comfortably at 90 mph as well as on a quick run to the local grocery store. Think of a cheetah in a lion’s suit, and you get the picture.

It tops out at 208 mph, in case you need a latte really quickly. We took it to 161 mph in sport mode for a few moments and enjoyed a marvelous and mischievous thrill ride, and no smokies with radar guns. For obvious reasons, what interstate we managed this is a top business secret. [But don’t try this at home!] And if you love big engines, note that next year’s models will be the last with such W-12 muscle, part of a greener Bentley, as Penta has previously reported.

The Specs

The vast hood hides a 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged W12 engine, a monster that delivers bold power as well more graceful manoeuvring than otherwise might be expected from such a heavy car. The horsepower is rated at 650 and the car obtains gas mileage of 15 city and 22 highway. Bentley says it will do 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. Other Bentley Continental GTs are available with a V8 engine, for those more concerned about the environment.

The Bentley GTC Speed offers four driving modes: Comfort mode is a likable combination of a speedy roadster that will take you to 100 mph, before you even notice. Call it relaxed cruising.

Move to Sport mode and the GTC does its unique version of a squat thrust, and off you go. Sport mode optimises the engine, transmission, and suspension to boost dynamic ability, and when engaged, it should be immediately felt by the driver. And the engine, normally quiescent, begins to roar through the two exhausts in the rear. The other modes are Bentley, a combo of sport and comfort, and Custom. The chassis system features rear-wheel steering, which improves cornering at speed.

The colour of the model we drove is called Kingfisher.
Vito Racanelli

From the front, back, or side it’s a handsome car, and certainly gets its share of acknowledging looks from pedestrians. The Bentley GTC driver quickly learns to recognize the envy of onlookers and other drivers. The color of the model we drove is called Kingfisher. We plebs would say it was a sweet shade of light blue. OK, Kingfisher, if you must. The GT hardtop is just US$259,000 before options but we recommend the GTC Speed convertible, unless you live way up North. The Bentley line up consists of a range of GT and GTC models that can be customized for engine size and hp; convertibles and hardtops; and colors, etc., among other accouterments.

The Cabin

In a few words, luxurious and spacious for the front two passengers, but little room for others in the back seat. It’s a GT 2+2, typical in that the back seats are negligible for humans. As we tested a convertible, we shoehorned a 6-footer into the back seat with the top down, but the advantage of being able to lick your knees was somehow lost on our uncomfortable passenger. Best to keep the backseats to dogs or children.

What’s Not to Like

Penta has noted in other expensive luxury sports competitors to Bentley: the invasion of plastic in the cabin. Yes, it lightens the car’s weight, improves performance, yadda, yadda, yadda. But even a little is a lot for cars at this price level. This Bentley does have plastic here and there in the cabin. Not a lot, but really, one might expect control knobs made of gold in this price range. And the gasoline tank dial could be bigger and better placed, but you get used to it. Maybe you don’t want to see, or care, for that matter.

At the end of a long summer’s day driving the GTC Speed, you feel as if you are in a fast and mobile Four Seasons Suite.


What a quarter-million dollars gets you in the western capital.

Alexandre de Betak and his wife are focusing on their most personal project yet.

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Savvy travellers who plan their trips around dining at their destination’s most in-demand restaurants know that securing a reservation at a top Paris eatery isn’t an easy proposition on any given day.

Come the Olympics in July, when the city is flooded with tourists, one would expect the jockey sport to snag a table to be that much more intense. But that’s not necessarily shaping up to be the case. As of mid-May, Parisian insiders such as hotel managers, restaurant owners, and local luxury concierges reported that inquiries at sought-after spots were no higher than usual, foretelling a potential opportunity for visitors looking for a fine-dining experience during the games.

The time to book falls over the next few weeks given that many top spots don’t take reservations until one month before the dining date.

The Michelin-starred Jean Imbert Au Plaza Athenee and Le Relais Plaza, both at Hotel Plaza Athenee and helmed by the renowned French chef Jean Imbert, are two examples.

Francois Delahaye, the COO of the Dorchester Collection, a hospitality company that includes the Plaza Athenee and a second Paris property, Le Meurice, says that his regular guests who are visiting for the games and Parisians who frequent the restaurants know not to call too far in advance of when they want to dine.

Further, he doesn’t foresee reservations being a challenge at either venue or at Le Meurice’s two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse.

“Booking for the restaurants won’t be an issue because people are planning meals at the last minute,” Delahaye says. “Also, the people who are in Paris specifically for the Olympics are here for the games, not to eat at restaurants. They’re not the big-spending clientele that we usually get.”

Delahaye doesn’t expect the kinds of peak crowds that descend on fine dining during Fashion Week each spring and autumn, for example, when trying to land a seat at the three eateries is nearly impossible. “People are fighting to get in,” he says. “You need to book through your hotel’s concierge, have an inside source, or be a hotel or restaurant regular.”

Several Paris luxury concierge companies echoed Delahaye’s perspective

Manuel de Croutte, the founder of Exclusive & Private, says that Paris regulars probably aren’t planning a trip when the Olympics transpire—from July 26 to Aug. 11—because they want to avoid the tourist rush. “We’ve gotten some reservation requests from people who’ve heard about us but not nearly as many as we usually get when the very wealthy travellers are here,” he says.

During peak periods like the French Open or Fashion Week, de Croutte says that his job entails making bookings for travellers who don’t have any other way to get into buzzy or Michelin-starred establishments.

“You’re unlikely to get a table at a see-and-be-seen place without knowing someone,” de Croutte says. “No one picks up the phone or answers email.” He says his team has established relationships with managers and owners of many of the hot spots in Paris and often visits them in person to land tables.

Exclusive & Private’s Black Book of Paris restaurant recommendations for Olympic visitors span a broad range, from casual bistros to fine-dining.

Michelin eateries include the three-star Le Gabriel at La Reserve, the two-star Le Clarence near the Champs-Elysee, and the two-star Le Taillevent.

Spots without a Michelin star but equally notable are also on de Croutte’s list: L’ Ami Jean offers traditional and flavourful southwestern French cuisine, Allard is a brasserie from Alain Ducasse, and Laurent serves French food to a fashionable set.

“My favourite neighbourhood for restaurants is Saint Germain de Pres,” de Croutte says. “You’ll find unassuming but chic names with excellent food and a great vibe. You can book with these places directly if you’re here for the Olympics, but don’t wait until the last minute because they will get filled.”

He also cautions that some Paris eateries are asking for nonrefundable prepayments for reservations during the Olympics.

“Be sure you want to go before committing and ask about the refund policy if you are charged,” he says.

Stephanie Boutet-Fajol, the founder of Sacrebleu Paris, says her bespoke travel company charges a lump sum of about US$750 to make all the restaurant bookings for the Olympic period, though the price varies depending on the dates and the number of restaurants that a client requests. “Reservations around the closing ceremony are harder to come by because that’s when more elite travelers are coming to Paris and want the chic restaurants that are always difficult to get a table at,” she says.

Meanwhile, chefs at some Michelin-starred restaurants share that they have tables available during the Olympics and welcome travellers to their establishments.

Thibaut Spiwack, for one, behind the Michelin-starred Anona, serving modern French cuisine, and the culinary consultant for the popular Netflix series Emily in Paris , says that he is open for reservations.

“My team and I look forward to sharing a culinary experience with new clientele that I hope will remain in their memory,” he says.

Spiwack suggests that travellers check out other worthwhile restaurants where he himself dines. For terrific wine, there’s Lava, and for Italian, he likes Epoca where the pastas are “divine.” Janine is the best bistro in town, and Prima wins for a pizza fix, he says.

“You have a lot of restaurants in Paris to pick from,” Spiwack says. “You just need to determine where you want to go, and book as soon as you can.”