Immensely capable, quiet and refined open-top cruiser produces huge, effortless performance

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 Bentley Continental GTC convertible?

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

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?

Back to top

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.

You sit low in the car, gripped by the seats but not restricted by them in the way of some sporty designs. On our test journey, the car’s supreme day-long touring ability was well proven.

There’s a small performance difference between the GTC and the coupé (0.2sec from 0-60mph, resulting in a still-stellar time of 3.7sec), because the convertible is around 100kg heavier, mainly due to extra lower body reinforcing. But it’s unlikely that you’d ever perceive any difference without driving the pair back to back against the clock, because the performance of the 626bhp 6.0-litre W12-powered open-top model feels huge and entirely effortless.

Back to top

Does the GTC make a case for itself over the coupé?

It's hard to see why you wouldn't buy a GTC if you’re in the price bracket. Bentley has worked hard to make the quality of the products match its exalted brand, and the Bentley Continental range does that best of all.

This convertible is probably a bit more of a good-time vehicle than the coupé, simply because it’s a shade more eye-catching and likely to be seen travelling more slowly in more glamorous locations. It’s also £15,000 more expensive, and its boot is somewhat smaller, but these are likely to be minor concerns to the clientele.

The bottom line is that the GTC do anything its coupé sibling can, and every bit as well.


Bentley Continental GT Convertible First drives