What is it?
The Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible: a car so big, heavy and ostentatiously appointed that you really shouldn’t be able to just ‘flick’ it around a 90deg bend so easily. Anyone looking for first-hand proof of the world-class engineering capabilities of the modern car industry could use this as a fine example of how effectively expectations can now be exploded by cars like this, surely even among those with the means to afford life’s finer things.
Approach the bend, if you will, with a spirited pace, trailing the brakes a little, and nudging the transmission down into second gear as you close in. Now just turn your head, look up the road to the corner’s exit, and smoothly roll your wrists. Some 2.3 tonnes of aluminium, steel, leather, wood, copper, fibre optics and silicon - so cleverly managed these days by adaptive air suspension, active anti-roll bars, torque-vectored four-wheel drive and enough computing power to run a cold-war submarine - then declines to lean, waver or resist much at all, but rather rotates so willingly that it’s as if the world itself were pivoting right beneath your backside. Why haven’t the cows in that field just fallen over, you’ll wonder. Must have been the car after all.
Truth is, whether open- or closed-cockpit, V8- or W12-engined, the latest Continental GT is a car capable of remarkably agile handling. If you do like a sporting grand tourer, however, that immaculately coiffed Bentley salesman really ought to be recommending the V8. Not only is it lighter than the W12, but it’s also tuned for slightly keener handling and a more stirring exhaust note.
It’s long been Autocar’s preferred Continental, too. And it’s still sufficiently well endowed to hit 60mph from rest in four seconds flat, even in the convertible-bodied form in which we’ve just tested it in the UK.