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Bentley_Continental_GT_V8_S_convertible_review
The V8 was developed with Audi – it really is very good indeed, and renders the V12 obsolete

What is it?

The replacement for Bentley’s GTC, namely, this sleeker, squatter soft-top Bentley, equipped with an all-new twin turbo, petrol V8.

How much? It’s priced from £152,900 and as tested would set you back £195,270.

 

What’s hot?

  • The engine is so good that it renders the twelve cylinder models obsolete, particularly given the 40% gain in MPG (a combined figure of 25.8mpg), but also because of the lovely noise it makes and its very powerful performance – 0-60 in 4.7 seconds. 
  • Bentley has achieved the Jekyll and Hyde factor. It pootles as happily as it roars.
  • The four-layer fabric roof offers remarkable refinement when it is up, and none of the odd looks and weight of metal folders.
Bentley_Continental_GT_V8_S_convertible_review
And it’ll pootle along (on 4 cylinders incidentally) just as happily as it’ll roar around a track

 

 

Bentley_Continental_GT_V8_S_convertible_review
Ride is impeccable of course, but it also corners in a way that belies its weight

 

  • Adaptive cruise control, while not exclusive to Bentley, is a class act. It means that you can effectively use cruise in most conditions on British roads for the first time.
  • Bespoke options are endless and Bentley is one of few companies still to deliver quilted leather with contrast stitching, and hand-cut veneers. 
  • In-depth qualities such as the fantastic heating system (there’s an optional neck vent) really mean that you could take the roof down in all but the coldest conditions and be comfortable.
  • The sports exhaust is a worthy extra, despite its £1860 cost – if you didn’t like a V8 sound track you wouldn’t have bought a convertible with a V8.

 

What’s not? 

  • Weight penalties to compensate for the soft top pushes the kerb weight up to almost 2.5 tonnes, which seems wholly unnecessary for a two door GT.
  • Options are eye-wateringly expensive – as tested our model came with £42,370 of extras…
  • …of which the carbon ceramic brakes alone cost £10,405
  • …yet audibly chatter and scrabble like a troupe of arguing mice at urban speeds.
    Bentley_Continental_GT_V8_S_convertible_review
    The 21 inch wheels are rather lovely, but the they’re 6’3″ apart. Add the mirrors, and UK roads start to look a bit narrow
  • Wide, 6’3 track and vulnerable 21 inch wheels renders the Bentley a tricky parking proposition even with the excellent Park Distance Control and its cameras. As for 6’6 lane restrictors, well, do the math: you will need to be a supremely able driver to avoid scuffing the wheels.
  • The small boot of the fixed head GT is rendered still smaller because of the folding roof of the convertible, and at 260 litres is half what you get from a Rolls Royce Wraith, and a big disappointment for a so-called GT car – you’ll need the back seats for luggage, and that in turn will mean putting the roof up for security reasons every time you stop.
  • Combined MPG is optimistic. Expect to average about 20-22mpg in mixed use.

 

 

 

 

Bentley_Continental_GT_V8_S_convertible_review
It’s the most relaxed convertible we’ve driven – the ultimate success trophy

Business Car Manager Verdict

The Bentley is an unabashed trophy, particularly in convertible form.

It is also possesses lots of feel-good. It sits four-square and looks right from every angle, even with its otherwise enormous 21 inch wheels.

It’s a beautiful place to be and the attention to detail is reassuring, whether it’s the excellent sat nav or the right foot rest, which is brilliant once you settle into the adaptive cruise control on a longer journey.

This is the most relaxed convertible-with-the-roof-down-on-the-motorway that this reviewer has driven. Indeed, the fact that you can still hear the radio without straining the ear says it all.

Bentley_Continental_GT_V8_S_convertible_review
A beautiful place to be with impeccable attention to detail

The new V8 engine is a gem, especially mated to the eight-speed auto gear box. If you whisper around you simply get a bass-accented warble from the sports exhaust, but not so much that you wake the street.

Hold the car in gear using the paddle shift, through a tunnel or against a stone wall, you unleash a devastating sound track.

The ride quality is also very good even in full sports mode, unfeasibly so given the very low profile tyres and huge wheels and kerb weight.

There is a sense of occasion, as there must be at this price. You’ll know if the brand is a fit, now that it has that Premier League feel to it.

On the deficit side of the balance sheet, does it really need to be 2.5 tonnes?

That single stat betrays not only a very heavy car, but a very large car (smaller yet heavier than the Wraith, incidentally. The 7ft 3in width, including mirrors, renders the car an elephant on numerous British roads, let alone smaller lanes, where you don’t want to venture. While that is part and parcel a Bentley, it still seems unnecessarily biased towards the US market place.

Bentley_Continental_GT_V8_S_convertible_review
It is a fabulous car, though we wonder if forward looking innovations like the BMW i8 it’s starting to look like an anachronism

Many of the extras added to our test car, such as the ceramic brakes, are unnecessary unless you plan track use, but we question why the wind deflector is an extra £405 on a convertible whose base price is already in advance of £152k. And the neck warmer. And the power close boot. And twin front arm rests. That smacks of poor value, if the term has any meaning at this level of luxury.

This Bentley is a desirable possession, but in 2014 we wonder if it’s just a bit too Old Skool, with over-the-top emissions and poor fuel consumption. 

BMW’s i8, which we recently drove (here’s the review), has subtly but powerfully changed the Known Universe of luxury sports cars.

The i8 costs a third less, and has the effect of suddenly making the Bentley seem old hat. That’s no reason not to want one, or enjoy one, but the case for this sort of car is gradually diminishing. The relatively more efficient V8 keeps it in the game but is no revolution.

 

The Low Down…

Doors and body style 2-door convertible
Engine/gearbox 4 litre, V8 twin-turbo petrol/ 8-Speed  auto
CO2 Emissions 255g/km
Economy 25.8mpg
Power/torque 500hp/660Nm 
0-62mph/top speed 4.7secs/187mph
Insurance group 50

…and what it costs

P11D Value £152,900
Monthly business rental (ex VAT) N/A
Road tax (VED) Band L
Company Car Tax Bands 2014/15 to 2016/17 35%, 37%, 37%
Benefit in kind (BIK) 2014/15 to 2016/17 £53,515, £56,573, £56,573
Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%) £1519/
Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%) £3038/
Annual/monthly company car tax (20%) £10,703/£892
Annual/monthly company car tax (40%) £20,706/£1726
Figures correct at time of posting 
For latest figuresUse our company car tax calculator


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