Test drive review: Bentley Continental GT Convertible
- Credit: Mark Fagelson
A convertible roof adds a whole new dimension to Bentley’s wonderfully indulgent grand tourer
Ever dreamed that you could fly? The Bentley Continental GT Convertible delivers much the same intoxicating sensation of gliding effortlessly through the landscape.
It’s all down to the big Bentley’s uncanny ability to isolate you from the jostle of the road surface, while at the same time immersing you in the outside world. Nothing else manages to soothe and stimulate in such perfect harmony.
HOW IT DRIVES
Under the skin, this is basically the same car as the fixed-head Continental GT. There’s the same choice of V8 or W12 engines – both offered with an 8-speed automatic gearbox and 4-wheel drive as standard.
The V8, as found in our test car, suits the Bentley down to the ground. It’s virtually silent while cruising, but there’s a deliciously mellow burble when you dig deeper into its vast reserves of torque. Switch to Sport mode, however, and it can be amusingly raucous at times – an iron fist to the Bentley’s velvet glove.
In normal driving, the Convertible feels almost identical to the V8 coupé. It’s remarkably agile for such a big car, with a marked absence of body roll, yet it still rides with real comfort and composure.
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The extra weight does eventually start to show when you’re really pressing on, but that’s not really what these cars are about. As with the coupé, the Continental GT Convertible feels happiest at a brisk cruise – its vast engine purring quietly away and the beautifully-upholstered seats providing just the right blend of comfort and support.
What sets the Convertible apart is the way it looks and feels with the roof down. There’s a touch of art deco grandeur to the rakishly swept back windscreen and the clean, elegant lines. It’s arguably a better-looking car than the coupé on which it’s based.
Inside, you’ll find deep, fluffy carpets, rich leather and acres of chrome. The whole thing oozes quality – it’s evident in everything you see, hear, smell and touch, from the reassuring weight of the knurled aluminium indicator stalks to the stitch pattern on the quilted seats.
Keep the roof up and the Convertible does a very good impression of a fixed-head GT. In fact, Bentley says it’s as quiet in here as the previous generation coupé. There’s marginally less rear seat space in the Convertible, but it remains more practical than a lot of rivals, with space for a pair of child seats. Likewise, the hood mechanism eats into the boot volume somewhat, but there’s still enough room for a couple of suitcases or a set of golf clubs.
Prod a button on the centre console and the roof will open or close at speeds of up to 30mph. There’s a touch of buffeting, but the Bentley does a good job of shielding you from the elements; ventilated seats come as standard for the hot days, while there’s an ‘air scarf’ system that blows warm air onto your neck for those crisp autumnal mornings.
The Bentley Continental GT already sits towards the more luxurious, cosseting end of the GT spectrum. As such, the marginal impact that the Convertible’s extra weight has on its handling is neither here nor there, really. What it does provide is a unique extra dimension to the driving experience. No other convertible manages to combine comfort, practicality and performance with quite the same panache.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Bentley Continental GT Convertible £223,325 as tested (range from £182,800)
Engine: 3,996cc, 550PS, twin turbo V8 with 8-speed automatic transmission
Performance: 0 to 62mph in 4.1 seconds; top speed 198mph
Fuel economy: 22.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 284g/km