Bentley Continental GTC
By Patrick James
SOFT top or metal lid, the price difference probably doesn’t count that much when you can splash out £150,000 plus on a car.
The new Bentley GTC is the kind of car favoured by the super rich, rock stars and footballers.
But this super convertible reinforces the view that that those who are loaded like their open top motoring just a much as the rest of us.
Bentley is one of the motoring world’s status symbols, unashamedly expensive and incredibly luxurious.
It demands a list of superlatives: visually stunning, especially with the roof down, opulently appointed, mind blowing performance, particularly from the ridiculously powerful Volkswagen-sourced W12, 577bhp engine, hugely desirable and incredibly expensive to buy and run.
Despite it being a VW engine, some of the most fuel efficient on the market, both the smaller V8 and the W12 pump out high levels of CO2.
The car looks sensational from the outside with a feline stance, huge 20-inch alloys, distinctive grille and the signature Bentley winged logo, which is replicated in the shape of the dashboard.
And if you think a private jet is luxurious, slide into the cabin and you are cosseted in the highest levels of quality.
With soft, hand-stitched leather on seats and dash trim and hand crafted and polished wood surrounds on the dash all topped off with high-quality chrome trim.
The analogue clock in the middle of the dash is a classy touch. Controls echo the quality of the rest of the interior with the centerpiece touch screen controlling the infotainment system.
Deep carpets add to the luxury but also insulate the cabin from outside road and engine noise and even with a fabric roof, interior noise is limited to how loud you want the sound systems.
Equipment looks comprehensive in terms of luxury and safety, but the model I drove managed to add on another £16,000 in extras.
The sheer size and striking looks of the car gets you noticed, from the curious passer by, to the plod in his police car who might take an interest if you more than feather the gleaming accelerator pedal.
Depress it too hard and the car morphs into a rocket ship. The 567bhp engine will hit 60mph from a standing start in just 4.4 seconds, and on to a potential 195-odd mph where permitted, although why anyone would want to drive that fast on a road is beyond me.
It is, however, awesome performance with handling to match, despite the lack of a permanent roof. It may not be quite so stable as the steel-roofed coupe, but there is no evidence of the body flexing.
For those wanting an even more sporty drive gearchange paddles add to the fun as do four drive settings which alter the dynamics of the car, but gearshifts are so slick in full auto it hardly seems worth the effort.
Getting all the power to the road is the trick and the 40-60 split permanent four wheel drive means power is deployed to both axles when you put the hammer down.
It also means the car has loads of grip on corners. Acceleration is exhilarating but the brakes are impressive too, slowing in an instant with all the assisted braking and traction systems kicking in to keep it safe.
Front seat passengers have acres of space, but like many Grand Touers the rear seats are smaller although there is still good head and just about enough legroom for short journey, but are more suited for children.
Boot space is also limited at 235 litres but any room issues are quickly forgotten when the electrically folding roof slots away into the boot.
You would be hard pressed to find a better open-top experience and even with the wind in your hair, you still feel in the lap of luxury.
The roof is not the quickest folding but it is certainly worth the wait.
An inspired piece of engineering, but for those who can afford them, there is a waiting list. Anyone else can dream.
Bentley Continental GTC
Mechanical: 567bhp, 5,998cc, 12cyl petrol engine driving all wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max speed: 195mph
0-60mph: 4.4 seconds
Combined mpg: 19
Insurance group: 50
CO2 emissions: 384g/km
BiK rating: 35%
Warranty: 3yrs/ unlimited miles