Luxury Car of the Year
2015 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible
Awarding a Bentley the Luxury Car of the Year award might seem like a gimme. Let us assure you, however, it narrowly squeaked out the win against two seriously compelling competitors, each with their own set of impressive strengths.
Though the Audi was faster and the Mercedes has more tech, none was as luxurious, offered quite the same on-road experience, or felt quite as cohesive as the Bentley. From the handcrafted woodwork to the supple leather seating, there is no part of a Bentley that isn’t simply exquisite.
And that’s the impression you get before even firing the engine – all 12 cylinders of it. What an engine it is. Of all the vehicles to be nominated this year, none also had its powerplant considered for Engine of the Year, except for the Bentley. The 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine produces 626 horsepower. All told, it can push the GT Speed to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.1 seconds and onto a top speed of 203 mph. The W12 offers this performance with a seemingly impossible smoothness and an exhaust note that is more concussive than shout-y.
Impressively, the Bentley can handle the bends, too, as its air suspension can be dialed from cloud-like levels of cushioning to sports car-like levels of stiffness. And thanks to extra sound deadening, the GT Speed Convertible is actually quieter than the Coupe.
No matter how you slice it, the GT Speed won us over for its ability to make the driver feel like a king, whether out on the open road with the top down, or in a board meeting, just thinking about the Bentley that awaits outside.
We were downright flabbergasted by how fast the S8 accelerates. It will scream to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, which is fast by sports car standards, let alone long luxury sedans. Delightfully, its exquisite interior is just as enjoyable at saner speeds – we loved the copper-woven carbon fiber trim and the techy but accessible MMI system. And all of that offered in a car that looks fit for Darth Vader.
The Mercedes S-Class is known for its technology and refinement. The Coupe, however, takes that reputation and brings to it a level of style missing from the sedan. And, since this is the AMG S-Coupe, that means it’s also blisteringly quick. Though not as quick as the other cars in this category, we loved the S-Coupe’s cornering capabilities, especially the adaptive side bolsters on the seats, which grip the driver’s body in the bends.