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Friday, December 3, 2021

Bentley Continental GT Convertible V8 2020 UK review

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Like the equivalent Coupé, the GT V8 Convertible has a four-seat cabin; unlike it, the cabrio uses a motorised cloth hood to keep the wind and rain out and it can be converted from open to closed at the touch of a button at speeds of up to 30mph, and in a little less than 20sec. 

The need to accommodate the folding roof denies the convertible some of the rear cabin space of the coupé. Although space is still good enough, and roof-up access still easy enough, for younger kids to travel back there, adults won’t want to for long.

Up front, where adults tend to travel instead, the Continental oozes with material lavishness and tactile allure as only a Bentley can. Crewe’s storied touch with walnut and hide and classic controls and instruments finished with decorative brightwork have lately been combined with LED ambient lighting and digital touchscreen technology in a marriage that few would have imagined could be so harmonious. But it really is. The car’s digital speedo and tacho dials are so beautifully rendered that you won’t notice they’re ‘not really there’ until they disappear from view. Meanwhile, if you simply don’t want to look at the widescreen infotainment touchscreen, you can rotate it back inside the dashboard and look at a row of old-fashioned clocks instead.

The specific quantity of strengthening ballast carried by the convertible over and above the mass of the coupé is 170kg, which ought, on a 2.3-tonne car, to be shouldered pretty matter-of-factly, one would have thought. The powertrain of the modern Conti GT certainly motivates that weight without the slightest trouble. There is, however, a minor but noticeable price to be paid on rolling refinement with the drop-top. Whether you’ll be minded to pay it, or even notice it, will likely depend mostly on the particular style of luxury motoring you like to do.

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Prod the gold-ringed starter button on the transmission tunnel and the V8 registers its distantly fruity audible presence, which you can bring notionally closer to your eardrums in this instance by exposing all to the open air, of course. Very nice. Rotate the surround of that same button and you can choose between several ‘set-menu’ drive modes.

The actuation of the car’s dual-clutch transmission still seems just a little bit laboured at times; not between gearchanges so much as when manoeuvring, and juggling drive and reverse. The rest of the time, however, the powertrain is highly convincing. It has all the accessible grunt and outright performance that a luxury tourer needs, and much of the responsiveness, audible charm and willingness to rev that Bentley’s W12 lacks. 

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