It was always obvious that Bentley would launch a top-off version of its deeply impressive, all-new Continental GT coupé, not least because it engineered the two models alongside one another.
A big part of Bentley’s Continental GT mantra is that it's practical enough to drive every day, and so it is. So, which characteristics should we concentrate on in an evaluation of the new £175,890 GTC convertible?
Well, we already know the fixed-head coupé is fast, quiet, long-legged and beautifully built and can be configured and coloured in many enticing ways. So we’ve decided what matters here is stuff like body rigidity, wind noise, hood actuation, ride quality and, maybe even above the coupé, a pervading sense of wellbeing. Which is why we tested this car in late winter Spanish weather just perfect for some early-season top-downery.
We drove the GTC in a mix of sunny and cloudy weather, on a 300-mile loop starting in Málaga and ending in Seville, including tough surfaces and some relentless combinations of mountain curves.
Is there a big difference between the GTC and the coupé?
First impression: when the hood is erect, you might as well be in a hard top, such is the quietness. Indeed, Bentley says this latest rag-top is as quiet as last year’s coupé, and that’s certainly the feeling you get.
The convertible facility – along with the GTC’s discreetly softer but multi-adjustable air suspension – makes this first and foremost a classic low-speed, sunny-day cruiser. But, as befits a car with a 207mph top speed, the new Bentley also copes superbly at high-speed, open-top cruising, because the cockpit is so well protected. Drive properly fast and there’s a bare minimum of buffeting, even without the ugly and passion-killing rear wind protector in place, and the W12 engine’s smooth bark curls nicely up to your ears over the boot lid.
Press the GTC over bumps and you’ll be impressed by the limousine-level damping and bump absorption. You won’t feel body tremors or scuttle shake; there isn’t any top feel. And the active roll control brilliantly smooths corner entry and abrupt transitions in tight S-bends, belying the car's 2.4-tonne mass.
The steering is superb: perfect for effort and gearing and with a relatively small wheel that doesn’t require too much winding, even in successions of fairly tight curves.