The drop-top version of one of the brand's top sellers, the 2021 Bentley Continental GT Convertible may not be the epitome of leisure luxury, but it's definitely a staple. Based on the nameplate that put Bentley back on the map, the grand tourer convertible is not quite as popular or easy to live with. There isn't as much rear passenger room or trunk space, but that's the price you pay for over-the-top style. Nevertheless, it holds up extremely well in comparison to direct rivals in the form of the Rolls-Royce Dawn or Aston Martin DB11, with a choice of two powerful engine options and more engaging driving than a car this extravagantly lavish has any business being. It takes old-world charm and merges it with the kind of modern tech that we have come to expect from our daily drivers. But does it do it well enough to warrant the price tag when you could pick up a top-tier BMW 8 Series drop-top in the USA for half as much?
The entire Continental GT range enters the new year with very few changes, but of these only one applies to the convertible variant. The already extensive array of paint colors has been expanded with the addition of Patina, Viridian, and Snow Quartz. The latter is only available in combination with the V8 powertrain. Aside from this, the entire Continental GT range, including the convertible, receive a redesigned steering wheel with capacitive sensing. New, more sustainable tweed interior trim has also been introduced.
See trim levels and configurations:
Few cars are as extravagantly stylish as a Bentley and the Continental GT Convertible gives it that extra drop-top flair. The luxury two-door vehicle almost seems to go on forever, with its extended wheelbase and long, sleek profile. Despite this, the curves of the body and hood are designed for optimal aerodynamics - with an overall drag coefficient of just 0.29. When equipped with the W12 engine, the Bentley rides on 21-inch tri-spoke alloy wheels, while the V8 variant receives 20-inch ten-spoke alloys. The Mulliner variants set themselves apart from the standard fare with even larger 22-inch wheels. Similarly, the W12 gets twin oval tailpipes, while the V8 boasts quad exhaust finishers. Both get the bright chrome wing vent, but the W12 trim sets itself apart with a black ribbed matrix engraved with a 12.
The convertible's roof is available in a choice of seven tones, such as Black, Blue, and Grey, or more eclectic options like Dark Grey Metallic and Tweed. Lowering or raising the roof takes around 19 seconds when on the move at 30 mph. Other standard exterior elements include full LED Matrix-design headlights. However, the Mulliner special edition receives bespoke styling in the form of a double diamond grille and wing vent with Mulliner branding, and a jewel fuel and oil filler cap.
While not the largest Bentley in the world, the Continental GT Convertible still boasts some impressive dimensions. With a 112.2-inch wheelbase, it measures 190.9 inches long. It rides a little low, though, with a height of just 55.1 inches, which it more than makes up for with an imposing width of 77.3 inches with the mirrors folded in. Even though the large vehicle has trimmed down over the past few years with aluminum components replacing many of the heavier elements, it is still a rather heavyweight contender. Equipped with the lighter V8 powertrain, it tips the scales at around 5,148 pounds, while the weight of the heavier variant can be as much as 5,322 lbs.
A choice of two very capable powertrains is offered to any Bentley Continental GT shopper. Neither lacks in power, but the less impressive of the two is the twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. Paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, it develops 542 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque which is directed to all four wheels. Calling it the weaker engine sounds quite ridiculous when you consider that it can launch the hefty convertible from 0 to 60 mph in a mere four seconds. Top speed in this configuration is capped out at a lively 198 mph. Getting around town with this motor is a breeze, and there is unlikely to be a faster car on the highway.
For those who think too much power isn't enough, the 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 is there to give you way too much. It makes use of the same gearbox and drivetrain, but it develops 626 hp and 664 lb-ft, instead. With a couple hundred pounds extra to lug around, this power plant moves the GT Continental from 0-60 mph in an even brisker 3.7 seconds and it gains an extra 9 mph on its speedometer at top speed. This engine is for those who want ridiculous power and performance for the sheer hell of it. It sounds as amazing as it feels when pulling off, but the V8 is arguably smoother. Either option is great, though, so it really comes down to whatever makes you happy, because neither would disappoint. In both models, the dual-clutch transmission provides silky smooth shifts when driving more moderately but superbly quick responses when you require it.
Not every Bentley is designed for spirited driving, but the Continental GT Convertible actually is. Rather than being a cruiser to be chauffeured around in, the GT Convertible encourages you to get behind the wheel and take it for a spin yourself. It is remarkably well-behaved for such a hefty vehicle, with body roll managed by the dynamic ride system. Thanks to a Porsche-sourced platform and a specially designed front axle, it responds well to driver inputs and feels far more agile than any Bentley has before.
Four drive modes are available - Bentley, Comfort, Individual, and Sport. Each noticeably alters the suspension, steering, throttle responses, and even the transmission to create a very specific experience. This means that you will always have the kind of drive that you want. But regardless of the mode you choose, the GT is a sublimely comfortable rider. The three-chamber air suspension eats up even large bumps in the road, and the soft-top actually makes a valiant effort of muffling road and wind noise. Of course, that is all moot when the top is down.
Still, you should never forget that this is a two-and-a-half-ton car. Even with such refined mechanisms and expertly balanced handling systems, it won't serve as a true athlete on the road. It is lightning fast from take-off and overtakes without breaking a sweat, but you need to be aware of its limits and drive it responsibly, because buffing a scratch out of this paint job will cost you more than a regular small car would.
Few luxury vehicles boast impressive mileage figures, but if you can afford a quarter-million-dollar Bentley, then any gas bill will likely feel like chump change to you. The V8 is the lighter sipper of the two options, returning 16/26/19 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles, according to the EPA. The stronger W12 is noticeably thirstier, getting only 12/19/15 mpg in the same cycles. Luckily, each model is equipped with a sizable 24-gallon tank, which allows the colossal cruiser to cover up to 456 miles between refills in its more efficient guise.
The inside of a Bentley is so heavenly sublime that we wouldn't blame you for wanting to spend more time on the road than at home. Only the supplest of leathers adorn the seats, while the dash and door panels are lined with soft-touch materials. These are accentuated with genuine wood veneers on the standard models, while the Mulliner variants receive Grand Black veneer with Diamond Milled chrome overlays. All of this is before you even start customizing the interior to suit your taste. Choices include the color of the leather, whether or not it is two-tone, contrast stitching and emblem colors, and of course, which of the various veneers you prefer - wood, carbon fiber, piano black, or a combination of the two.
Unfortunately, despite all this comfort and luxury, only four passengers fit inside the GT Convertible, and even then, only those up front truly enjoy everything the Bentley has to offer. There is loads of head- and legroom, and even more if you let the roof down. But, with the roof up, rear-seat passengers may feel a little cramped, and lowering it doesn't help their legroom situation. Front seats offer 20 directions of power-adjustability, as well as heating, ventilation, and massage, which are accessed by adding the Front Seat Comfort Specification package.
Though the cabin may be opulently appointed, the GT Convertible is not a particularly practical vehicle. The trunk supplies a mere 8.3 cubic feet of space for luggage. If you plan on using your Bentley for something as mundane as grocery shopping, a handful of bags should fit without a problem. But if you're planning a quick weekend getaway, then it is perfect for a couple of mid-sized suitcases. The back row will likely be free in these situations, too, and there is a passthrough if you lower the rear seats.
In-cabin storage is equally limited, but there is enough space for a few small items. These are accommodated by the center armrest cubby, the front console bin, and the front door pockets. Both the front and the rear seats receive a pair of cupholders, too.
The GT Convertible is a luxurious and well-appointed tourer, there is no doubt about that. But when you're paying this much money, you aren't just looking for something good; you want the best. And the fact that many of the top features you'd expect on such a premium vehicle are left out unless you specifically ask, and pay, for them, is a little disappointing. Standard features at least include 20-way power front seats, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. But ventilated front seats are only added with the Front Seat Comfort Specification, along with massage functions and a neck-warmer. Standard driver-assist aids comprise blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera, while lane assist, a 360-degree camera, rear cross-traffic alert, pedestrian warning, and a head-up display are added via the Specification packages.
The infotainment is comprehensive and lavish, starting with the large 12.3-inch high-res touchscreen. From here, users can access a wide array of features, including HD Radio, SiriusXM, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi, and the CD player. The sound system comprises ten Bentley speakers as standard, which can be upgraded to a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen system, or an 18-speaker Naim for Bentley setup. Your smart devices can be connected using the available USB ports, and a set of SD card slots mean you can play music from your personal library without draining your battery. Everything is placed well within reach of both driver and passenger, but if that doesn't tickle your fancy, there is an available Bentley Rotating Display, which rotates the touchscreen to show three analog gauges in an even more fanciful way.
Considering how refined these machines are, and how much you are paying for them, it comes as no surprise that no recalls have been issued for 2021 or 2020 for the convertible variants. There aren't even any complaints to draw on to besmirch the automaker's pristine name, though there is no definitive reliability rating, either. But, if that isn't enough for you, Bentley offers a very hard to beat warranty. The basic warranty covers the first three years, with unlimited mileage. Unlimited roadside assistance is offered for three years, too.
Good luck finding a safety review for one of these beauties. Even if the manufacturer was willing to build a few simply for the sake of destroying them, not many testers would feel comfortable crashing a car worth more than $200k. That being said, each Bentley comes equipped with all the essentials to keep you safe, such as ABS, stability and traction control, and a full set of airbags. It also receives a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, and front and rear parking sensors, but if you want more advanced driver aids such as forward collision avoidance, lane assist, a surround-view camera, and the like, then you have to spend extra. However, when you're spending in excess of a quarter of a million dollars, what's a few thousand more?
It's a Bentley - of course it's a good car. What you really want to know is what makes it more special than competitors like Rolls-Royce or one of the elite German brands. Flawless style merges with modern technology, finely tuned engineering, and old-world charm to create the type of vehicle people are willing to shell out big bucks for.
Regardless of the powertrain you opt for, you are never left wanting for power, and the Continental GT manages all the strength very well. Whether you are behind the wheel or in the passenger seat, you will enjoy the ride in optimum comfort. Those in the back are a little more cramped, though, and the trunk could never accommodate luggage for all four passengers.
Aside from these minor practicality issues, the only thing we can really complain about is the fact that so many features found as standard on a lot of cars today need to be specced on as pricey extras, on top of an already backbreaking starting price.
The exact price of the 2021 Bentley Continental GT Convertible is up for debate, since almost none are actually produced in base spec. Still, the V8 variant is the least exorbitant of the lot, with an estimated starting price of around $222,000 MSRP. To access the more potent W12 engine, you need to add around $18k to the bill. Of course, you can expect to spend quite a bit
more than this once you start playing around with the configurator and see all your options. For those with a taste for something a little more exclusive, there is the Continental GT Mulliner Convertible, available with a choice of either powertrain. Its exact price has not yet been announced to those that aren't in Bentley's elite circle of clients, but paying close to $300k for a unique, bespoke Mulliner edition is quite plausible. Not that it makes even a tiny dent in the overall price of these tourers, but these estimates do not include tax, registration, licensing, or the $2,725 destination fee.
Honestly, it would probably be impossible to be unhappy with any model or configuration in the Continental GT Convertible range. If you're buying it for its supreme comfort but want to keep a relatively low profile, emphasis on the 'relatively' part, then the base-level GT V8 should fit the bill quite nicely, once you spec on a few of the extra desirable features. However, if your purchase is motivated more by making a statement and showing your status, then all of this is just icing. In the latter scenario, the Mulliner variant of the W12 configuration is the car for you. Naturally, you won't settle for less than the best, so adding the Touring Specification is a must. On non-Mulliner variants, the Front Seat Comfort Specification pushes luxury to the next level, and the Bentley Rotating Display is just needlessly decadent, which means we simply must have it, too.
Rolls-Royse and Bentley have been close competitors for a very long time, but that has not always been the case. Back in the day, they were part of the same family, so it comes as no surprise that they share a few similarities. That said, the Continental is the better performer here. The top engine of the Wraith is a little weaker at 624 hp and 605 lb-ft, which means it takes a little longer to make the 0-60 mph sprint - 4.4 seconds to be exact. Where it does manage to beat the Bentley, hands down, is the trunk department, but then again, it isn't a convertible. With 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space, it is far more practical as a daily driver, and the extra legroom for the rear passengers is impossible to ignore either. Wherever one seems to stand out, it falls far behind in another area, so each model is mostly on par in terms of average. Thus, it will most likely down to personal preference. Those looking to buy their way into this elite circle for slightly less cost will prefer the Continental GT, which costs around $100k less.
A relative newcomer to the Bentley stable, the Flying Spur makes use of the stronger W12 engine only. But it isn't what is under the hood that sets it apart from its siblings, since it uses the same W12 power plant. No, it is the unbeatable interior that will really draw customers in. Set to be the brand's new flagship, it supplies much more space in the rear seat and a larger trunk, too. Then again, the Flying Spur's more traditional sedan styling isn't as glamorous. This does make it the perfect executive sedan to be chauffeured around town in, though, and the rear seats offer several adjustment options as well as heating and ventilation. Unless you can't live without the feeling of the wind blowing through your hair, the Flying Spur is the more logical choice.
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