Luxury car test drives in London: Bentley Continental GT V8 S convertible
Drop that top: Bentley’s latest Continental takes open-air motoring to next level luxury
When looking into the ultra-high-end cabriolet market, only a few brands and models that come to mind. However, one stands tall above the rest: the Bentley Continental GT V8 S convertible. I recently had the opportunity to drive this tour de force of a GT car through the streets of London. It was my first time in the soft top version and the suave sophistication it oozes is intoxicating. Top up it’s quiet, comfortable and refined. However, if you want to liven things up a bit, drop the top, put it in Sport mode and hear that raspy twin-turbo 4.0L V8 come to life through the sports exhaust.
Fortunately, it was quite warm in London, so the possibilities to enjoy the full range of this car’s abilities were endless. And when the temperatures did cool, a heated steering wheel kept my hands warm, vents in the seat blew warm air at my neck, while the rest of the seat kept me toasty with a massage function to boot. With a television tuner and a hugely impressive 900W audio system, I could have easily packed up my belongings and called the Continental home.
So, it’s comfortable, refined and has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a Bentley. But I know you’re wondering what it’s like to drive. Does it live up to the pedigree, or has it gone all soft? For a car that weighs more than 2,400 kg, it’s faster than you’d think. That’s thanks to 521 hp, all-wheel drive, and a slick 8-speed ZF transmission. The GT V8 S convertible will hit 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds and go on to a top speed of 308 km/h. Bentley has managed to create a very responsive and unadulterated driving experience. Lag is limited and thanks to hot-side inside technology of placing the turbos inside the V of the V8 cylinders, the Continental is more efficient with reduced weight and energy wastage.
The 10mm lower suspension over the regular V8 model and enhanced aerodynamics mean that high-speed stability and handling are improved and will keep you planted, even if you’re driving like your hair is on fire. And mine came fitted with large ceramic brakes that promptly dealt with stopping at any speed, which comes in pretty useful for driving in vehicle-dense London. Cruising around the city — like most Bentley owners will do — is a breeze in the Continental. It also looks the part, with 21-inch diamond turned wheels, beluga glossed body panels and a chrome tipped sports exhaust. Its muscular, sporty and masculine disposition will have you feeling like a boss from the minute you hit the engine starter button.
To take luxury to an entirely new level, in-house specialist Mulliner is at hand to offer a range of options to make your Bentley one-of-a-kind. Owners can customise everything, from bodywork to interior trims and even bespoke luggage to fit special items easily into your vehicle. The car that I drove featured a Mulliner package which included special black and diamond wheels, diamond-quilted and perforated hide seats (my personal favourite feature of the car) and embroidered Bentley emblems, to name but a few. Driving the Continental GT V8 S convertible was better than I expected. I knew it would be good, but the levels of refinement and composure are something else. It’s spacious while still feeling sporty enough to remind you that it’s capable of catching a bullet train. If you’re looking for a luxury drop-top grand tourer, then look no further.