From £163,7009
New Conti Convertible has all the many advantages of a new platform, seen already in the Coupe. It’s in a class of its own.

Our Verdict

Bentley Continental GTC 2019 first drive review - hero front

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

Steve Cropley Autocar
24 May 2019
Bentley Continental GTC 2019 UK

What is it?

Bentley has just revealed a convertible version of its second generation Continental GT, identical in every important way to the coupe except that it now has an elegant powered hood that takes 19 seconds to erect, can be lowered or raised while the car is being driven at speeds up to 31mph (50km/h) and whose total assembly — plus the requirement for extra chassis stiffness — adds just over 100kg to the coupe’s already substantial 2295kg kerb weight. And which brings its own new level of versatility to two-door luxury coupe ownership.

Because this car was engineered from the beginning with a bespoke platform shared only with Porsche’s Panamera, and the need for a ragtop was taken into account at the earliest design stage, the hood intrudes less into the cabin, requires less chassis reinforcement and disturbs the car’s aerodynamics less (drag factor rises only fractionally to 0.32) than in the outgoing car.

The result is a rarity in the UK, a luxurious convertible with decent seating for four, though even here the largest occupants probably fit better in the front.

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What's it like?

It’s a big car, for sure, fractionally longer than the outgoing car at 4.85metre overall length and with 100mm added to the wheelbase. Mainly, this moves the front wheels forward, an action that greatly improves body proportions and removes the last sign of a relationship with the old VW Phaeton limo, the car that provided the original Conti’s platform.

The engine is the recently revised 6.0-litre W12, now with both direct and indirect fuel injection (to spread torque and cut CO2) as well as variable valve timing and many more mechanical refinements. The engine produces 626bhp at 6000rpm, plus a mighty 664lb ft of torque, an output that easily beats even the most powerful versions of the previous GT.

Like its predecessor this car has four-wheel drive, but the emphasis of the system has completely changed. You now get a set-up that retains rear-wheel drive most of the time, delivering an adjustability of handling the old car never offered. If necessary it can divert up to 38% of its torque to the front wheels in the Bentley or Comfort suspension settings, or 17% in Sport, all according to demand from the sophisticated chassis electronics. As the above suggests, the Conti now uses the same three-chamber air suspension units as its coupe sibling, and the Panamera. And instead of the old Slushmatic, you now get an eight-speed twin-clutch gearbox.

All that power and torque easily overcomes the Convertible’s weight to make 3.7sec 0-60mph sprints possible (it concedes an undetectable 0.1sec to the fixed-head model) and the 0-100mph time is a Ferrari-rivalling 8.0 seconds. In truth, there’s little else different between coupe and convertible. The siblings have virtually the same chassis balance, the same steering response and the same ride quality because Bentey’s engineers have done such a brilliant job of eliminating the chassis flex and scuttle shake so often present in big convertibles.

They also have virtually the same performance — everything except the all-important open-air facility for which you pay around £18,000 extra. Sounds a lot, doesn’t it? But nothing comes cheaply in this arena, and neither does the customer seem to expect it. Our First Edition Convertible test car (£36,000 extra over the £175,100 base price) also had a further £17,000 of classy gadgetry, including a “Naim for Bentley” premium hi-fi that costs a cool £6500 extra.

Once you’re driving with the top down, you rapidly realise how much less important total performance is to a luxury convertible. The balmy cockpit airflow, the prestigious progress, the way the exhaust note murmurs up to your ears over the boot, the greater sense of pleasurable driving (and reduction in effort to concentrate when driving long distances) all come into play in a convertible — or at least, in the average convertible.

Where the Bentley convertible scores is that, when its hood is erect, it’s difficult to distinguish from its coupe cousin. Daily driver versatility is a quality Bentley has always claimed for its cars, and this new Conti convertible definitely delivers. Top down touring is profoundly enjoyable and there’s little or no compromise, either when it rains or when it comes to carrying rear passengers.

Should I buy one?

If you’re shopping for drop-top four-seaters in the Bentley bracket, it’s hard to find anything that compares. Other big convertibles are available, some a good deal cheaper, the Rolls Dawn a lot more expensive.

All but the latter lack the Bentley’s combination of name, timeless quality, space, capability. And in the Bentley you pay less and get much more performance. So it strikes us that potential Conti ragtop owners aren’t going to be faced with a need to sift exhaustively through lots of rivals.

The decision will be a simple matter of deciding whether they want the world’s only luxurious £175,000 to £220,000 convertible or not.

Bentley Continental GTC specification

Where Twickenham, UK Price £175,100 On sale now Engine W12, 5950cc, twin turbo petrol Power 626bhp at 6000rpm Torque 664lb ft at 1350-4500rpm Gearbox dual-clutch eight-speed automatic Kerb weight 2414kg Top speed 207mph 0-62mph 3.7sec Fuel economy 20.2mpg CO2 317g/km Rivals Mercedes-Benz S-class Cabriolet, Rolls-Royce Dawn  

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Comments
20

24 May 2019

The new Conti coupe and convertible are both a vast improvement (outside and inside) over all VW/Bentleys to date. Gone are the heavy bulk and sometimes awkward proportions of previous VW/Bentleys. The sleek linear dashboard is a fresh interpretation of the traditional Bentley dashboard.

On the evidence of this, Rolls Royce has a lot to fear, especially as recent RR efforts are well below par (Cullinan, Phantom 2)

Let's hope the next Mulsanne and Flying Spur (can't decide which looks worse, both are awful) benefit from similar aesthetic improvements.

24 May 2019

There aren't many cars around whose interiors make you go "wow" but the current Continental's does exactly that. IMO it's simply sublime looking and looks utterly desirable and expensive. Miles ahead of the previous model and well ahead of the S-Class coupe/covertible which normally, in isolation, looks amazing.

24 May 2019

simply wonderful

24 May 2019

I’ve not been to Twickenham in years, but it appears to have had some dramatic changes.

24 May 2019

I really like the car. I think this is the one that I am looking for. I really like the overall look, design, and work of this car real estate photo retouching . Now I want to know about its performance and all other details I am sure that you can help me to find it out.

24 May 2019

All of the images for the article are of a the new V8 - because it has the quad exhaust!

Still a very beautiful car in which ever quise...

24 May 2019

I think it is a W12 as the enamel Bentley badges are black rather than red.

Pooch

24 May 2019
PoochieReay wrote:

I think it is a W12 as the enamel Bentley badges are black rather than red.

look carefully - V8 badges on the side and the exhausts give it away. The enamel to me looks dark red too.. 

24 May 2019
JacobE wrote:

PoochieReay wrote:

I think it is a W12 as the enamel Bentley badges are black rather than red.

look carefully - V8 badges on the side and the exhausts give it away. The enamel to me looks dark red too.. 

Yes, you´re right enough.

Pooch

24 May 2019

Almost perfect. Just the odd shaped rear lights that let it down in my opinion. The flow over the rear haunches on the rear three-quarter view is just lovely. But those lights...

That (very) small gripe apart, they've knocked it out of the park with this. Ferrari and Aston are WAY behind this.

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