by Jared Rosenholtz
The 2019 Bentley Continental GT Convertible is the drop-top version of the venerable Continental GT, which might not be the most iconic Bentley ever made, but might be the most important. The previous two generations lasted from 2006 to 2018 and were Bentley's best selling models ever, meaning the new model has a lot to live up to. Bentleys represent the pinnacle of luxury, with every car being hand-built and the quality shines through in nearly every aspect of the Continental GT Convertible. It's only available with a 624-horsepower W12 engine, with a 542-hp V8 to be released soon. In this exclusive league of luxury grand tourers, the Rolls-Royce Dawn, Aston Martin DB11, and Mercedes-AMG S-Class Cabriolet all stand as strong opposition but the Continental GT has quickly carved out a name for itself as the default buy for the rich and famous. Can the third generation continue the legacy?
The 2019 GT Convertible is an all-new model for the third generation of the Continental nameplate. Sleeker lines and a redesigned front end retains most of the key characteristics of the old model but the rear looks completely different with oval tail light clusters compared to the squarish ones on the old model. The engine and dual-clutch transmission are also completely new.
The 2019 model is completely new but retains the same basic shape of the old model. The distinctive Bentley grille, flanked by double round LED matrix headlights on each side is unmistakable, and the flowing lines extend over the huge rear wheel arches. The rear end is elegant and uncluttered with the classy oval LED light clusters matching the double oval tailpipes below. A power soft-top roof is operable at speeds of up to 30 mph and can open or close in 19 seconds.
The Continental GT Convertible is a Grand Tourer with a larger than life persona and dimensions to match. With a length of 190.9 inches, a 112.2-inch wheelbase, and width of 86.1 inches, it matches the standard coupe derivative. But at a height of 55.1 inches, it's 0.2-inches shorter than the coupe. Meanwhile, the addition of a roof mechanism and the necessary structural reinforcements increase weight by 375 lbs over the coupe, with the GT Convertible tipping the scales at a curb weight of 5,322 lbs.
Powering the Continental GT Convertible is a twin-turbocharged W12 engine. Sporting the same number of cylinders as a conventional V12 but in a more compact configuration, the W12 frees up more space in the engine bay for other components, while still delivering the same performance and a unique soundtrack. In this case, the 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine is connected to Bentley's first dual-clutch transmission, an eight-speed unit sourced from ZF, with the powerplant developing 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. With permanent all-wheel-drive, it can achieve the 0-60 mph sprint in 3.7 seconds and has a top speed of 207 mph. That's just 0.1 seconds slower to 60 mph than the coupe while managing to match the top speed of its closed-roof counterpart. While not aggressively fast like a supercar, the W12 delivers fantastic performance while still retaining an aura of smoothness and sophistication. The smooth W12 rumble is an ideal soundtrack to an open-top driving experience.
Sitting in the Continental GT Convertible is an experience in itself. The twin-turbo W12 engine has a lovely exhaust note and the acceleration feels effortless. Unlike other cars that may be performance-biased or luxury-biased, the Continental is the best of both worlds with jaw-dropping power in a comfortable and smooth ride. Thanks to the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, the shifts are smooth and quick and manages the revs well, even in slow driving around town. Considering how large and heavy the Continental GT Convertible is, there are minimal amounts of body roll. Even at speed, the body motions are supremely well controlled, with adaptive suspension filtering out camber changes, mid-corner bumps, and any sudden shifts in weight. While the steering may initially seem a bit light, it's precise and sharp, and responses are impeccable, leading to a driving experience that feels more nimble than something of this size should. Braking is also no problem at all, as the new Continental has the largest steel brakes ever fitted to a Bentley.
Gas mileage on a car with a 12-cylinder engine is almost a taboo subject, and certainly not something that's taken into consideration when buying a car in this class. The Continental GTC hasn't received any EPA ratings yet but gets a WLTP combined figure of 19.1 MPG. The fuel tank has a 24-gallon capacity, giving the Continental GTC an estimated range of 458 miles. Figures may change slightly after EPA evaluation.
The Continental GT Convertible is a strictly four-seater with some of the plushest leather seats found in any car. There are 15 standard colors to choose from, including Beluga, Linen, Hotspur, and Burnt Oak. 12-way power-adjustable heated seating with memory function is standard with an option of adding 20-way adjustable seats with memory, ventilation, and massage options, keeping occupants in supreme comfort. The front has 40.1 inches of headroom and 41.9 inches of legroom, while the rear passengers get 36.7 inches of headroom and 32 inches of legroom. The front has more than enough space for two passengers to sit comfortably. Unfortunately, the rear seats are very small, and even short adults will find it a bit of a squeeze.
As a convertible, cargo space in the Continental GT Convertible is predictably sparse with only 8.3 cubic feet available. There's a pass-through for larger objects and the loading area is still quite wide and comes with cargo hooks and a 12V power adapter for added convenience. The space is capable of accepting one full-size and one carry-on piece of luggage without too much trouble.
The interior has front door pockets, a storage tray, as well as a storage bin with cupholders in the center console. There are also cupholders and another storage bin between the rear seats.
Dripping luxury from every crease, the Continental GT Convertible is packed with standard features as well as an abundance of expensive available options. Standard features include front and rear parking sensors, a digital instrument display cluster, onboard navigation, leather upholstery, power-adjustable steering, keyless start, blind-spot monitoring, keyless entry, a 12.3-inch infotainment unit, 12-way power-adjustable heated seats, and automatic LED headlights. To add to the standard features, there's a multitude of optional features like a head-up display, top-view camera, a night-vision camera, pedestrian warning, lane-change assist, traffic sign detection, adaptive cruise control, heated armrests, and front-seat neck warmers.
No bespoke vehicle is complete without a custom sound system, and in this department, Bentley offers three different options. The standard infotainment features include a 12.3-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto, and Apple Carplay, Wi-Fi hotspot, as well as gesture control. This system is paired with a standard ten-speaker 650-watt audio system. It also has the My Bentley App which gives direct access to Bentley and finds out about events. Apart from the standard unit, there's a 1,500-watt, 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, as well as a 2,200-watt, 18-speaker Naim system available.
On of the main tricks up the Continental's sleeve is the unique Bentley rotating display. The three-sided rotating display looks exactly like the dashboard fascia until the car starts, and then it flips over to show the infotainment unit. It can also flip over again to have the third side visible, with a compass, stopwatch, and outside temperature on display.
There have been no recalls for the 2019 Continental GT Convertible, and as an all-new model, it'll take some time before reliability can be truly measured. Should anything go wrong, the Bentley Continental GT Convertible comes with a three-year/unlimited mileage basic warranty, a three-year/unlimited mileage drivetrain warranty, as well as a three-year/unlimited mileage corrosion warranty. It also has a one-year maintenance plan, and a three-year/unlimited mileage roadside assist.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has any test results available for the Bentley Continental. Due to the rigorous development and testing that it's been through before being released, it's expected to offer a high level of safety. Some of the standard equipment in the Bentley Continental GT Convertible are ABS brakes, stability control, traction control, six airbags including driver and passenger head airbags, front side airbags, and curtain airbags. It also has a host of driver aids as part of expensive add-on packages. Pedestrian warning, rear cross-traffic alert, a surround camera, land and traffic assist, adaptive cruise control, and night vision are all extras.
The ideal goal of traveling in a convertible grand tourer is to enjoy an immersive driving experience with the outside smells and fresh air permeating throughout the car as you cruise along your favorite coastline in utmost comfort. In this respect, the Continental GT Convertible delivers a breathtaking driving experience in utmost luxury.
The quality and attention to detail of both the interior and exterior is something only elite carmakers can match and creates a special feeling. Every inch of the car is top class, from the luxurious hand-sewn leather to the new LED matrix headlights and wealth of available technology. Of course, it's pointless having all the luxury without performance to match and in that regard, the Continental GT Convertible delivers a balance between an elegant cruiser and a savage speeder. Performance may not seem vastly different from the last generation, but there was nothing wrong with how the old one performed, so we're happy Bentley have kept things much the same.
The only major drawback of a car like this is the eye-popping price. At the end of the day, handmade craftsmanship comes at a price that most people can't afford.
For now, there are only two models in the Continental GT Convertible range, the standard GT Convertible, and GT Convertible First Edition. The standard model has an MSRP of $236,100 excluding licensing tax, registration, and destination fee of $2,750. Pricing of the First Edition is yet to be announced, but it will carry a premium over the standard model with additional specification and limited availability.
For now, there are only two models model in the Continental GT Convertible lineup, the standard version and the more exclusive First Edition, which is to be produced in limited quantities. The First Edition is a more exclusive model featuring interior and exterior "First Edition" badges, as well as the words "First Edition" on the headrests and treadplates. It also has certain optional features as standard such as the Bentley Rotating Display, park assist, pedestrian warning, and traffic sign recognition. In terms of performance, the First Edition uses the same engine, transmission, and drivetrain as the standard model.
Buyers who want something even more exclusive with a potentially higher resale value should opt for the limited edition First Edition. For the majority of Bentley Continental GT Convertible buyers, the standard model should be enough.
The Rolls-Royce name is synonymous with the highest standard of luxury vehicles. Just like the Bentley, quality and attention to detail are extraordinary. The Dawn is powered by a turbocharged 6.6 liter V12, which makes 563 horsepower compared to the Continental GTC's 624-hp W12. While they are both in another league of luxury, Rolls-Royce goes the extra mile with features like backward closing doors that close at the touch of a button, as well as having enough rear space to ensure that all passengers sit in absolute comfort. The rear seats in the Continental GT Convertible are far less accommodating.
Of the two, the Rolls-Royce is the car that delivers the most opulent driving experience possible albeit at the sacrifice of some sportiness. The Continental GTC, on the other hand, has the super-luxury element while still being more of a driver's car. They are both at the top of the game at what they do and it's not possible to go wrong with either.
While not as prestigious as Rolls-Royce and Bentley, Mercedes-Benz holds its own in the luxury car segment and is normally on the forefront of new car technology. The S-Class Cabriolet is offered with a number of engine options and starts at around half the price of Continental with the 463-hp S560 carrying a sticker price of $133,330. Of course, the real contender to the Continental GTC is the S65 AMG, which makes 621 hp from its turbocharged 6.0 liter V12 compared to the Continental's 624-hp twin-turbo W12.
There's no doubt that the interior of the Mercedes is a thing of beauty, and filled with amazing technology. The Bentley, on the other hand, is a bespoke, hand-built work of art. The S65 Cabriolet is a fabulous car in its own right but just can't match the class which the Continental GTC brings to the table.