Aspirational but practical, and British-built – what’s not to like about the Bentley Continental GT Convertible?

There is no doubt that the Continental convertible is breathtaking.

The Bentley Continental GT Convertible. Pic: Richard Pardon
The Bentley Continental GT Convertible. Pic: Richard Pardon

Breathtaking in looks, breathtaking in performance and, breathtaking in price. A set of alloys and tyres would probably set you back the cost of a small hatchback.

Paying well north of £180k for a car takes it beyond the means of the majority, but if you can afford it, or win the Lottery, it is a hugely desirable grand tourer that remains a British icon.

If a car can be described as beautiful, then this Bentley, both with the roof up or open top, fits that description – a compelling combination of elegance and power.

Bentley is German owned, VW in fact, but the hand-built features are a tribute to the master craftsmanship of British expertise at their factory in Crewe.

We love our convertibles in the UK but the weather doesn’t always play ball. But the Continental makes the wind in the hair experience thoroughly enjoyable with a discreet neckwarmer integrated into the front seats.

It looks sensational, with a low slung predatory look, featuring muscular haunches, swooping bonnet and the latest LED cut-crystal effect matrix headlamps. Sitting on 21 and 22-inch wheels it looks a powerhouse – and it is, with a four litre twin-turbo V8 engine on this model propelling the car to 60mph in four seconds.

The interior is a masterpiece of craftsmanship and opulence, almost decadence. Just like its sibling the Flying Spur, it is a riot of handcrafted wood and leather of choice and chrome, together with jewellery-inspired diamond knurled finish switchgear and classy analogue style clock.

On the road, the car is a superb drive and brutally powerful. The 542bhp V8, mated with a seamless eight-speed transmission, delivers incredible acceleration, with the throaty roar of the V8 through the quadruple exhausts adding to the enjoyment, especially with the roof down.

It goes on to a theoretical 198mph, nearly three times above the legal speed limit in the UK. All the power is all well and good, but it needs to be kept in a straight line and that is where the intelligent four wheel drive kicks in, delivering traction where required.

There are four driving modes that adjust engine, suspension and gearbox settings, which, given the enormous power in ‘normal’ mode, seems fairly superfluous.

Listing all the features would fill a book, but in addition to a host of bells and whistles, the centrepiece is a 12.3-inch central touchscreen system including HDD-navigation, two SD card slots, Bluetooth and WiFi streaming, a CD/DVD slot and digital radio.

Boot space is also surprisingly good, even with the roof stowed in the rear, with 235 litres, enough for a couple of small cases.

Hugely aspirational, but practical and British-built. What’s not to like?

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