What is it?
Subtle tweaks to the Bentley Continental GT Speed convertible mirror those made to its fixed-head sibling, with some mild styling changes and fractionally more power teased out of the mighty W12 engine under the bonnet.
Just as the previous revision to the Continental GT Speed convertible featured incremental increases in power, torque and top speed, this new variant nudges the performance game forward once more.
The 6.0-litre W12 powerplant, augmented via electronic management and turbo pressure fettling, now produces 626bhp and 607lb ft, increases of 10bhp and 17lb ft respectively over its predecessor.
Although the GT Speed convertible offers the hair-ruffling exhilaration and posing potential of luxury roof-down motoring, it does narrowly lose out to the hardtop version in terms of performance, even if the differences are miniscule.
Replacing the coupé’s steel roof with a seven-bow, three-layer fabric hood, and the accompanying operating mechanism and additional body reinforcement, has plumped the GT Speed convertible’s kerb weight by 175kg compared to its sibling, to 2495kg.
Yet it is just one-tenth of a second slower than the GT Speed to 60mph, at 4.1sec, and loses a scant 3mph at the uppermost echelons, with the maximum speed pegging at 203mph according to Bentley’s official figures.
It’s unlikely that any but the most inquisitive owners would seek to take their GT Speed Convertible past the double ton, but the top-end figures mean plenty when there’s bragging rights at stake in the private members’ bar or at the golf club.
What’s it like?
It’d be easy to assume that a vehicle weighing close to 2.5 tonnes and lacking the structural rigidity provided by a fixed roof might struggle to keep its considerable mass under the kind of consummate control that Bentley likes its cars to display.
But the Continental GT Speed Convertible is remarkably composed over most road surfaces. Occasionally you feel imperfections that perhaps wouldn’t trouble the coupé, but for the most part the Bentley feels exceptionally well managed.
Body control is surprisingly composed, particularly through fast flowing corners. Ambitiously attacked slower, tighter bends offer an occasional reminder of this car’s size and weight.
Considerably slower than the car itself is its fabric roof, which can be lowered or raised in 25sec at speeds of up to 20mph, so you’d better hope the weather turns at the exact moment you’re stuck in slow-moving traffic or idling at a junction.
Roof down, it’s only natural that a good deal more of the W12’s gruff burble is noticeable than in the coupé. Engage Sport mode and the exhaust note is considerably more aggressive and, after a while, can be quite jarring.
Better to leave it in standard Drive mode. The control of wind noise intrusion into the cabin is very impressive, with occupants able to maintain a measured conversational tone at all time, enhancing the chilled-out grace with which the Continental GT Speed Convertible goes about its business
Should I buy one?
The price differential between the fixed-head Continental GT Speed and this drop-top is £15,700, and that’s before you’ve started piling on options; our test car weighed in with £30,380 of cost extras, taking the overall price to £202,780.
But it’s what the Bentley can do, rather than what it costs, that makes it stands out here. The price tag is unlikely to be the major consideration for those who can realistically consider buying a Continental GT Speed Convertible. Indeed, Bentley reckons the sales split between coupé and drop-top is roughly 50:50.
The Bentley’s sheer heft and blunt-force power delivery means those seeking a rapier-sharp driving experience should look elsewhere. It doesn’t prevent the convertible from offering enormous giggles when the mood occasionally takes you, although luxurious cruising remains its main asset.
Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible
Price £172,400; 0-60mph 4.1sec; Top speed 203mph; Economy 19.0mpg; CO2 347g/km; Kerb weight 2495kg; Engine type, cc W12, 5998cc, twin-turbo petrol; Installation front, longitudinal, 4WD; Power 626bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 607lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic
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