Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible review

Bentley's bent-eight drop-top has a few tricks up its luxurious sleeves

Bentley Continental GTC V8 review
Gallery32
8.5/10Score
Score breakdown
7.0
Safety, value and features
9.0
Comfort and space
9.0
Engine and gearbox
8.0
Ride and handling
7.0
Technology

Things we like

  • Great engine
  • Entertaining handling
  • Ride and refinement

Not so much

  • Choosing your spec
  • Occasional ride jitters
  • Slight loss of character

There are many attributes you would expect a Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible to possess, but it’s the one you might not expect that makes it such a desirable machine – more on that later.

With a basic price of $441,300 before on-road costs you’d hope the Bentley would deliver on expectations, but take that figure with a grain of salt. As with most vehicles at this price point, customers can and will wildly inflate the RRP thanks to Bentley’s extensive options list.

Our test car included the Touring Specification (adaptive cruise, emergency lane assist, intersection assist, head-up display, lane assist, night vision, traffic assist), Front Seat Comfort Specification (electric headrests with fine chrome bezel, adjustable cushions, adjustable side bolsters, ventilated massage seats) and City Specification (auto-dimming door mirrors, city assist, hands-free boot opening, pedestrian warning, reverse traffic warning, top-view camera).

Motor Reviews Bentley Continental GTC V 8 Rear
32

In addition, it benefits from the virtually limitless personalisation options available through Bentley’s bespoke arm Mulliner. Just as Mercedes has AMG and BMW has M to make fast cars faster, Bentley has Mulliner to make special cars, er, specialer.

The Mulliner Driving Specification adds 22-inch alloy wheels, ‘diamond-in-diamond’ quilting on the seats, door trims and rear quarter panels, embroidered Bentley emblems, indented hide headliner, jewel fuel and oil filler caps and sports pedals, the brake featuring a massive Bentley ‘B’ logo, which also handily stands for BRAKE!

There’s more but you get the idea. Speccing your Bentley isn’t a case of choosing a colour and negotiating some floor mats, but expect to add at least $100,000 to that RRP by the time your individualised Bentley is on the road.

Motor Reviews Bentley Continental GTC V 8 Front
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With the roof down the Continental GTC exudes luxury speedboat vibes

It looks the business, though, this new Continental. It sits upon the Volkswagen Group’s MSB platform, shared with the Porsche Panamera, and it’s allowed the front axle to be shifted 135mm towards the front of the car, which has done wonders for the big Bentley’s proportions.

Longer, wider, flatter and more imposing, with the roof down the Continental GT V8 Convertible exudes luxury speedboat vibes and thankfully, unlike some convertibles, the glamour doesn’t disappear with the roof raised.

The wheelbase extension also improves interior space, with plenty of front legroom. One of the key expectations of any Bentley is a top-class interior and the Conti’s cabin is indeed a thing of beauty.

Motor Reviews Bentley Continental GTC V 8 Seats
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I miss the design flair of the previous generation Continental’s interior, the arching ‘wings’ that elevated either side of the centre console. The new car’s cockpit is more homogenous, less adventurous, but the material quality sets it apart.

Everything is real and there are no shortcuts. An example: there is a small pouch on the transmission tunnel by your left leg to stash your phone. Not only is it a clever ergonomic touch but the pouch itself is lined with leather.

The leather is soft, the carpets are thick and the metal is cold to the touch. That optional diamond stitching is very swish but importantly the driving position itself is also spot on. The steering wheel in particular is superb, a wonderful thing to hold.

Motor Reviews Bentley Continental GTC V 8 Interior
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Buttons are plentiful, which would no doubt give some interior designers conniptions – “need blank surfaces! More screens!” – but the upside is easily identifiable functions (of which there are plenty) that are easy to find at a moment’s notice. 

Standard kit includes full LED matrix headlights, a 12.3-inch central touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Sirius satellite radio, 60GB hard drive, Google Earth satellite navigation and a 650W 10-speaker stereo, though optional systems are available from Bang & Olufsen (1500w, 16-speaker) or Naim (2200w, 18-speaker).

An optional bit of interior theatre is also available in the form of the rotating centre display, which allows the centre of the dash to show the infotainment touchscreen, a trio of analogue gauges or just unbroken dash, like one of James Bond’s Q gadgets.

Motor Reviews Bentley Continental GTC V 8 Infotainment
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The interior is a lovely place to be and the experience is enhanced by another key Bentley expectation, that of exceptional ride and refinement. Double-glazed windows hush the outside world and the combination of three-chamber air springs and adaptive dampers provides a beautifully plush primary ride, the Continental GT Convertible wafting over larger bumps.

Spend some extra on the active anti-roll bars, which can decouple to free the wheels when in a straight line, and it’s likely to improve further, while forgoing the 22-inch wheels might improve the occasionally pattery secondary ride. 

Under the bonnet is the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that’s found in a variety of Volkswagen Group products in varying states of tune. In the Continental V8 it produces 404kW/770Nm, which combined with the eight-speed dual-clutch is enough for 0-100km/h in 4.1sec, 0-160km/h in 8.4sec and 318km/h flat out. On the other side of the coin, cylinder deactivation limits the combined fuel economy claim to 12.1L/100km, but expect to double that in hard use.

Motor Reviews Bentley Continental GTC V 8 Gear Selector
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Bentley’s 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 has its fans for its smooth operation and monstrous torque, but personally the V8 is the obvious choice. It might be 63kW/130Nm down on its bigger brother but counters by being 50kg lighter and making a deliciously rude noise. 

It’s not unsuitably raucous but it suits the car’s personality so well, capable of being refined when the situation requires but delivering an old-school eight-cylinder growl under load. It feels like the engine the traditional Bentley boys would choose, raffish gentlemen that they were.

You can identify a Bentley V8 by the black lower fender vent and quad tailpipes, rather than the dual ovals of the W12. The previous-gen Continental V8 had figure-of-eight tailpipes, a nice touch that has sadly been lost.

Motor Reviews Bentley Continental GTC V 8 Rear Action
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So far the Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible has delivered exactly what you’d expect it to: lashings of luxury, plenty of power and refined road manners, but it turns out this latest version has another string to its bow.  

This thing handles. Even this convertible, which is not as torsionally rigid as the coupe and 170kg heavier, bringing its kerb weight to a whopping 2260kg and distributed a nose-heavy 55:45 front-to-rear.

It’s not a promising recipe but there are a few things working in the Continental’s favour. That aforementioned 135mm front axle stretch not only provides a wider footprint but also eliminates the previous car’s Achilles’ heel, the fact that almost the entire engine hung out ahead of the front axle line.

Motor Reviews Bentley Continental GTC V 8 Driving
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The other key addition is the improved all-wheel drive system, which is rear-biased with torque vectoring and an electronic centre differential. Only the rear wheels are driven in normal circumstances, but if slip is detected up to 38 per cent of the drive can be sent forward in Comfort or the default ‘Bentley’ modes while Sport limits this to just 17 per cent.

As a result the Continental is entertaining and adjustable in a way its nose-heavy predecessor could only dream about. It can’t defeat physics and the substantial kerb weight limits how hard you can ultimately push but this convertible Bentley remains composed at speeds that most owners will never attempt.

There’s plenty of grip, super-accurate steering, impressive body control and great throttle steerability. Not only does the front end hold its line well but adding more accelerator helps rotate the car and the Sport ESP setting is happy to allow a bit of rear-end wiggle.

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It looks great, sounds great, is entertaining to drive when you want it to be yet refined and comfortable when you need it to be. 

This all adds up to an incredibly desirable automobile. Crucially, the Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible feels special. I loved driving it and loved being in it and at this end of the market, that’s arguably the most important thing.

8.5/10Score
Score breakdown
7.0
Safety, value and features
9.0
Comfort and space
9.0
Engine and gearbox
8.0
Ride and handling
7.0
Technology

Things we like

  • Great engine
  • Entertaining handling
  • Ride and refinement

Not so much

  • Choosing your spec
  • Occasional ride jitters
  • Slight loss of character

 

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