Bentley Continental GT Convertible review
The Continental GTC is the world's fastest four-seat convertible, and thanks to Bentley's craftsmanship the most luxurious too
For the ultimate wind in your hair experience, look no further than the Bentley Continental GTC. With a top speed of 195mph, the W12 6.0-litre turbocharged machine is the world's fastest four-seat convertible, although the smaller 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 offers nearly the same amount of performance, better fuel returns and arguably a better soundtrack. However, it's the attention to detail that set the Continental GTC apart from its rivals, with a beautifully crafted interior that's a joy to look at and supremely comfortable to sit in. And despite its massive bulk - the GTC tips the scales at 2.5 tonnes - it's also surprisingly rewarding to drive, with four driving modes that transform the car from a relaxed cruiser to snarling supercar.
Our Choice: Bentley Continental GTC V8
The Bentley Continental GTC looks very similar to its predecessor, but every body panel is different. It's also wider and has a longer wheelbase. As a result the GTC looks more purposeful, and in profile it's more sporty too. The fabric folding roof blends into the bodywork perfectly and, if you look closely at the material, there's not a thread out of place. Inside, you'll see why Bentley has such a special reputation. Wood veneers are flawless, and the hand-stitched leather seats show off a skill that would put a Savile Row tailor to shame. There's no shortage of hi-tech toys to play with, including a Google-based sat-nav system that offers satellite imagery of your location, making it even easier to follow.
The W12 engine isn't exactly environmentally friendly, yet constant development has made sure that it's more fuel efficient. It's also incredibly powerful, delivering huge amounts of torque and acceleration. We'd go for the smaller twin-turbo V8 - it's more economical, yet delivers similar performance. Whichever engine you choose, the car has four driving modes, from comfort to sport. In comfort the car rides smoothly over bumps in the road, while in sport the chassis stiffens up, improving the accuracy of the steering. Impressively, the 2.5 tonne car seems to shrink around you on winding roads, and it's nowhere near as intimidating to drive quickly as its awesome performance figures suggest.
The W12 engine might be big, but it's also bombproof. During its development, it was forced through a test that saw it run at full power for 24 hours while rotating on a giant spit. It passed with flying colours. You can expect similar reliability from the twin-turbo V8, which was co-developed with Audi. The heavy duty gearbox has no known problems, while the standard of quality inside means it will look as fresh as the day you bought it, even a decade on. Safety is first rate, thanks to plenty of airbags and a robust construction.
You really can take the family for a spin in the GTC. The rear seats are only really big enough for kids and if you're planning a week away, it's worth considering a courier to take your luggage to your destination for you. At just 235 litres, the boot is only really big enough for a couple of small bags. That aside, there's lots of storage space up front and the glovebox is a reasonable size too.
At full throttle, the W12 powered GTC will race to a top speed of 195mph. And consume as much as a gallon of fuel every three miles. Drive very carefully and you might just scrape 17.5mpg. The V8 is better, with a combined figure of 25.9mpg, although that's still nothing to write home about. You can also expect to spend at least £2,000 a year on servicing. And don't even think about depreciation – the experts say you should expect its value to drop by between £4,000 and £7,000 a year.