We test drove the 207-mph Bentley that has gorgeous style to match its supercar muscle.
On the one hand, the $326,000 (base price) 2020 Bentley Continental GT convertible packs a twin-turbocharged 626-horsepower W12 engine that propels this properly British grand tourer to a tea-spilling 207-mph top speed.
On the other hand, the drop-top Conti is wrapped in sleek aluminium sheetmetal so curvaceous it could be mistaken for a Maxim cover model. Not since Lara Croft have we seen such an irresistible combination of allure and capability.
With such obvious assets, the appeal of Bentley’s grand touring convertible seems obvious. But it is so good, for so many reasons, that these factors are only the beginning of why the Continental GT Convertible is poised to boost Bentley’s legend to new levels.
1. Diamond-Stitched Leather Upholstery
The opulent leather trimming the cabin of a Bentley is a given, based on the marque’s history with such indulgent amenities. But the 2020 Continental GT Convertible’s leather can be diamond-stitched for a more extravagant appearance. Each of the diamonds include 712 stitches, for a total of 310,675 stitches per car, using 1.75 miles of thread.
2. Naim Audio System
The renowned English audio specialist provides the top-level sound system for the Conti. It is a 2,200-watt, 18-speaker system, so it packs abundant power and an all-encompassing sound field. What sets this stereo apart is the addition of Active Bass Transducers built into the seats.
These feel exactly like the seat shakers used for other manufacturers’ lane departure warning systems to indicate that you’re wandering out of the lane. Bentley sends lane departure warning vibration through the steering wheel, so when your seat is shaking it is only trying to help you get your groove on.
3. Tweed Convertible Roof
There are seven available fabric colors for the Continental’s traditional folding soft top, but the only one that matters to be truly British is tweed. This buff-colored textured fabric is a perfect contrast for the darker paint options (70 colors are available) like the Cherry Coke-colored «Cricket Ball.»
The shiny black fabric used on most convertible tops seems pedestrian in comparison to the lush coarse texture of the tweed roof, which begs you to run a hand over it in much the same was as open-pore wood trim in the cabin demands you appreciate the tactile feel of its surface.
With the top up, the new Continental GT Convertible is as quiet inside as the previous-generation coupe. It stows away in 19 seconds, while driving at speeds up to 30 mph.
4. All-New Rear-Drive Chassis
Speaking of the outgoing model, the new car’s all-aluminum chassis is 20 percent lighter and 5 percent stiffer than that of the old car. This contributes to the convertible’s absence of discernible cowl shake, which is when the car’s body twists over bumps and during spirited driving due to the loss of bracing in the form of the roof.
Just as importantly, the new Continental is built on a proper rear-drive chassis that moves the front axle forward more than five inches, providing the proper proportions for a sport coupe or convertible that the old car lacked.
Although this new one is nearly identical to the old Continental GT in height and length, it looks lower and faster as a result of the improved proportions with the reduced front overhang.
5. Heated Armrests
Like many cars today, the Bentley offers heated seats and steering wheel. Unlike most of them, however, it also provides heated armrests to each side of the seats and a warm-air ‘neck scarf’ that blows out of the seat back.
Combine these elements with the flip up rear windscreen, and you can easily enjoy the Continental GT Convertible at temperatures in the 40s. But you’ll probably want to keep the neck scarf below it highest setting. At that fan speed it whooshes like a shop vac in your ear, which isn’t the relaxing cockpit environment Bentley drivers seek.
6. Bentley Rotating Display
Are you done with the bad news pouring in through inescapable digital channels? Eyes tired of seeing display screens. Get thee into a Continental GT, whose Bentley Rotating Display will roll the 12.3-inch central infotainment display screen away and replace it with a lovely wood veneer panel inset with circular analog instruments. The include a gorgeous compass, thermometer and stopwatch.
7. Superformed Aluminum Body
Improved proportions made possible by the new chassis contribute mightily to the Continental GT Convertible’s sexy lines. But the crisp creases and sharp bends in the car’s aluminum skin are made possible by the superforming process, which heats the metal to 500 degrees and then shrink-wraps it with air around the forming die.
8. Bentley Dynamic Ride
«Dynamics» and «Ride» are normally opposite ends of the driving spectrum, as a cushy ride usually undercuts the quick reflexes needed for responsive handling. Bentley marries the two with an air suspension system that adapts to conditions. The driver can choose among Sport, Comfort, and Custom suspension settings using the knurled metal knob surrounding the car’s starter button on the console.
Thrashing the car through the switchbacks of Spain’s Andalusian Mountains while in Sport mode, the Conti GT demonstrated the taut handling and crisp turn-in to corners that eluded its predecessor. While cruising the highway in Comfort, it provided the cushy ride expected of Bentley. We couldn’t ask for any more.