The stately lines and luxury interior of the Bentley Continental make it easy to forget that you're looking at an absolute beast of a thing with genuine supercar performance. The latest generation GT Convertible is a 626-horsepower, 12-cylinder, effortless tarmac-tearing animal in a tuxedo.
Under the skin, it's much the same as the third-gen Continental coupe: you get the same 6-liter, twin turbo W12 engine, with its 900 Nm (664 lb-ft) of torque and nifty ability to shut down half its cylinders and run as a six, to somewhat rein in its fuel guzzling tendencies. At 20.2 mpg, or 14 l/100km, it's still pretty thirsty, but then you don't buy a Bentley to save money or look like an eco-warrior.
Like the coupe, it uses an 8-speed dual clutch transmission, which gets power down smoothly and constantly enough to give you a 3.7-second 0-60 mph sprint, or 3.8 seconds to 100 km/h. The ride should be exemplary, with Bentley's dynamic ride system electronically adjusting torsional resistance through the roll bars to prevent any slouching under cornering forces, as well as multiple active damping modes and electronically adjustable air suspension to let you explore the full gamut between luxury magic carpet ride and firm, sporty corner carver.
The interior is also much the same, featuring Bentley's extravagant 3-sided rotating dash panels that tuck the 12.3-inch touchscreen away for a "digital detox," replacing it with plain wood veneer, or classy analogue clocks. Three levels of audio system are available, up to a pounding 2200-watt, 18-speaker Naim system that uses active bass transducers to literally shake your booty in the front seats. It's an amazing way to create the feel of bass without necessarily needing to crank the system up to maximum volume.
The main difference from the coupe, of course, is the convertible top on the thing, which extends or retracts in 19 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph/50 kmh. While many convertibles come at the cost of a noisy ride, this one's been designed using acoustic treatments and special noise-canceling Pirelli P Zero tires to keep things as quiet as the second-generation coupe at "typical cruising speeds."
Top-down driving is possible even in cooler weather thanks to a newly designed neckwarmer that's both warmer and quieter than the previous model as it circulates warm air around the headrests. There's also heaters in the seats, armrests and the steering wheel itself, so the bloody-minded among us should be able to keep the roof open through the drier parts of a British winter.
Pricing and availability details for the Continental GT Convertible have yet to be announced, but you can expect it to be north of the Continental GT Coupe's US$225,000 starting point. Enjoy a video below.
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