Many cite the latest Continental as the best luxury GT car on the current market – and now there's one for lovers of wind-in-the hair motoring, thanks to the imminent arrival of a new convertible GTC version (from £175,890 base price).
With first deliveries expected in April, the GTC lands in time for a full season of open-top driving – a season that, for me, began last week on an oft-plied car launch route between Marbella and Ronda in southern Spain, where blue skies and serpentine mountain roads made the perfect setting for the type of luxurious “grand touring” that this Bentley is designed for.
With the watery sunlight of an early spring morning already offering gentle warmth, the GTC’s soft top (which can be had in a chic tweed finish) was dropped before departure, a 19-second operation that can be carried out at speeds of up to 30mph. With the roof up, the GTC is as quiet as the old-generation coupé – but even with it lowered, the car is uncannily serene and allows normal conversation at serious speeds.
Top-down driving also makes it easier to hear the luxurious whoosh of the Continental’s W12 engine, a sound that, along with the playful twitter of its turbochargers, makes the convertible notably more characterful than its hard-top sibling – and, with a top speed of 207mph, it’s only slightly hindered by its less slippery shape.
Inside the two-plus-two cabin, occupants are cocooned in typical Bentley luxury: classic hand-stitched leather, wraparound veneers and analogue gauges are complemented by a new Côtes de Genève finish to the metal of the centre console, diamond knurled controls, quilted seats and 12-colour customisable “mood lighting”.
Connectivity is up to scratch too, with a 12.3-inch screen to display navigation, media and phone information, while a choice of three audio systems is offered, ranging from the standard 10-speaker, 650-watt setup to a Bang & Olufsen 16-speaker unit or the premium Naim 18-speaker setup offering eight sound modes.
But aside from the car’s power and interior appointments, what really sets the new GTC apart is the quality of its ride. It’s “as smooth as silk”, partly thanks to the 48-volt Dynamic Ride setup from the Bentayga SUV that uses a powerful, fast-responding electric motor to minutely adjust the suspension system to enhance handling, balance, steering and grip.
Add a sensibly sized boot, an interesting range of paint colours and the potential for further customisation by Bentley’s Mulliner division, and even those who have never been fans of soft-top motoring might be tempted by the Continental GTC. They might even find themselves fully converted…