We caught up with the Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible 6 litre 625ps, 800Nm W12, 8 speed auto at the recent SMMT Test Day at Millbrook.
This is billed as the fastest production Bentley ever, and it certainly felt like it! Whilst it was not possible to prove the claimed 205mph top speed and 0-60mph time of 4.0 seconds, the almighty shove in the back at even modest throttle openings gave little room for doubting the manufacturers claims. Under such acceleration the exhaust note left no doubt that this was a performance car of some standing, yet at the same time sounding refined and entirely in keeping with the nature of the car. Otherwise, noise levels were very subdued, although I was surprised to hear a couple of creaks from the convertible roof at times – the roof being firmly up in view of the thunderstorms of the day.
Ride and handling was carpet-smooth, although time did not permit exploration of the variety of ride heights and suspension settings which were available controlled by the central touch-screen.
In many respects, though, the performance is perhaps irrelevant for this car is all about impeccable fit & finish, materials of the highest quality & microscopic attention to detail, leaving little doubt that you are sitting in something very special. To take but a small example: where almost any other car would have a simple plastic clip to retain the emergency warning triangle in its stowed position in the boot, the Bentley has a beautifully trimmed holder, embossed, naturally, with the famous winged B.
Bentley pride themselves on their ability to personalise a car to the customers taste in a myriad of details, even extending to the level of stitching colours of the beautifully tactile steering wheel. Given the possible permutations, it is easy to imagine that it would be possible to spec a car to the point of garishness, yet our test example was a model of refinement, in Imperial Blue with blue crystal and linen leather seats, all set off by a turned aluminium facia reminiscent of the earliest Bentleys.
Such refinement can never come cheap: our test cars starting price was £167,900, escalated to £199,300 by a number of options including an impressive Naim sound system costing over £5,000.