Massively fast and surprisingly fun to drive, excellent interior
It'll be ruinously expensive to run and the image is still rather Cheshire
What is it?
A Bentley Continental GT - surely one of the world's finest grand tourers - with a limitless amount of headroom, thanks to a z-fold fabric roof that can be stowed or erected in 19 seconds at up to 30mph. It competes with the Aston Martin DB11 Volante and Ferrari Portofino, among others.
Indeed, there aren’t many differences between the Continental GT Convertible and the coupe on which it’s based. Except the roof, obviously, which brings with it strengthening in the form of much bracing and metalwork. The structure is five per cent stiffer than before, while aluminium panels mean the body is 20 per cent lighter.
And better looking, right?
Oh yes, substantially better-looking. The old Continental GT was a not an unattractive car, but this new one moves things on. Bentley’s moved the front axle forward, improving weight distribution by shifting the engine lower and further back in the chassis. This means the front overhang can be much shorter, which together with the longer rear overhang gives the GT a much more aesthetically pleasing profile than the car it replaces.
Any progress under the bonnet?
Things have moved on mechanically, too. Engine wise, you've still got a choice of a 4.0-litre V8 or 6.0-litre W12 - each with a couple of turbochargers for good measure - but now there’s more power and torque, plus cylinder deactivation for better economy. The GT still drives all four wheels, but now through an eight-speed DSG rather than a torque-converter automatic, and up to 100 per cent of power can go to the rear wheels.
And in smooth, unruffled driving it often does, to save fuel. Three-chamber air suspension aims to give a silky smooth ride, while a 48-volt active roll control system is tasked with keeping the GT’s substantial mass in check through the corners.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
Just like the coupe, this is a massively more dynamic car than the one it replaces. All the drive systems give it an athleticism that a car of this size, type and mass ought not to have. And of course it’s hugely fast in a straight line. So fast and so refined, you never feel as though you're going as fast as you really are. It's a licence loser, that's for sure, with an uncanny ability to carry speed cross country without getting all out of shape.
Good convertible too - while it's plainly not as stiff as the coupe, the soft-top GT doesn’t shudder or shake like big, luxury convertibles of even just a generation ago, while with all the wind brakes in place there’s virtually no turbulence in the cabin. Which will please potential customers no end. A deeply satisfying car in which to cover lots and lots of miles, and we suspect own. At a price.