2020 Bentley Continental GT Convertible First Review
- All-new third-generation drop-top for 2020
- Based on the Continental GT Coupe
- 626-hp twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12
- 542-hp twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8
- Convertible roof opens in 19 seconds
- Prices start at $218,350 (V8) and $236,100 (W12)
If allowed to drive just one vehicle for the rest of our lives, the 2020 Bentley Continental GT Convertible would likely be our first choice. Of course, there are countless notable vehicles in showrooms these days (take a look at our 2019 Best Buy Awards for a start), but if emotional satisfaction and undiluted driving bliss was at the top of our list we’d look past all of the stylish luxury crossovers, rugged 4-wheel drive trucks, and wickedly fast exotic sports cars and grab the chrome key fob to the gorgeous all-new drop-top Bentley.
Choosing a quarter-million-dollar vehicle as our “forever car” may sound preposterous, but only to those who haven’t driven it. But we have, and this masterpiece of craftsmanship, engineering, and technology has just about everything going for it -- assuming you can afford its lofty cost of entry.
How much does the Bentley Continental GT Convertible cost?
Base price of the 2020 Bentley Continental GT Convertible is $218,350 if you want the V8 and $236,100 for the W12 (destination and gas guzzler charges have not been announced). However, most owners spend a considerably greater amount courtesy of Bentley’s Mulliner program, which allows the discerning shopper to specify unique veneers, hides, stitching, and paints for the ultimate bespoke experience -- if a discerning buyer can dream it, Bentley can make it.
A new lightweight platform with innovative sculpted body panels
The third-generation Continental GT Convertible shares architecture with the Porsche Panamera (it’s the Volkswagen Group MSB platform). That’s a good thing, as the new Bentley boasts an extended wheelbase (for a smoother ride) and better proportions (the front axle sits 5.3 inches more forward of the dashboard), yet its curb weight has dropped. Credit the loss of mass to an aluminum-intensive construction that includes lightweight alloy body panels crafted with an innovative Super Form -- it allows the metal to be bent into sharp, visually complex, body lines. And the new bodywork doesn’t just impress the eyes. It also cheats the wind. According to the automaker, the Bentley has a .29 coefficient of drag, which is notably low for a convertible.
What engine does the Bentley Continental GT Convertible have?
The Bentley Continental GT Convertible is fitted with a choice of engines. You can get a twin-turbocharged, 542-horsepower 4.0-liter V8 or a twin-turbocharged, 6.0-liter W12 making a prodigious 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. The W12 was designed, developed, and hand-built in England. Both engines are mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, which allows great flexibility with gearshifts -- buttery smooth when sedately cruising, yet lightning fast when driven aggressively. Fuel economy figures haven’t been released yet, but the new engines are cleaner and more fuel efficient than their predecessors. We expect the city number to hover in the mid-teens, with the Bentley earning low-20s on the highway.
How fast is the Bentley Continental GT Convertible?
The Bentley Continental GT Convertible is astonishingly quick for a vehicle with a 5,147-5,322-pound curb weight. Credit the potent engines, quick-shifting transmission, and all-wheel-drive traction. The automaker quotes a 0-60 mph sprint in just 3.7 seconds with the W12, and 4.0 seconds with the V8. Top speed is a toupee-spinning 207 mph.
A power-operated convertible roof isolates from the outside world
With the press of a button, the Bentley’s Z-fold convertible top opens or closes in just 19 seconds with the vehicle traveling at speeds of up to 30 mph. The top, which is comprised of four different layers and includes a heated glass window, is offered in seven different finishes (including British tweed). When closed, it completely isolates occupants from the weather, wind, and noise outside the vehicle -- Bentley claims its new top construction is two decibels quieter than the roof on the outgoing model. When open, the roof drops below a hard tonneau cover that preserves the Bentley’s styling, improves outward vision, and protects the hidden soft top from damage.
Air suspension and a 48-volt Dynamic Ride system
The Bentley Continental GT Convertible rides on an innovative 3-chamber air suspension system that provides a well-damped ride. To prevent unnecessary body roll, the convertible boasts a second, 48-volt, electrical circuit as part of Bentley Dynamic Ride. The higher voltage is necessary to power actuators in the roll bars that keep the chassis level in corners.
Bentley’s Drive Dynamics Control gives the driver the option to tailor the vehicle’s dynamics with a choice between four modes (Comfort, Bentley, Sport, and Individual). In addition to adjusting spring stiffness and damping, the modes alter engine response, transmission strategy, steering weight, Dynamic Ride, and torque distribution.
What's different about driving the V8-powered Continental GT Convertible?
If you want the ultimate, money-is-no-object Continental GT Convertible, the W12 is the one for you. However, with the V8 engine, acceleration is quick, with surprising response considering the car's mass. This Bentley's front/rear weight balance is quite good, and handling is excellent. In Sport mode, the V8 engine and exhaust bring together a lovely burble and pop that's downright addicting. If you're in the market for a Continental GT Convertible, you probably aren't all that concerned about saving $16,000 by choosing the V8 over the W12, but if you choose the V8 you'll get 95 percent of the power and fun, and you won't feel the slighest bit deprived.
How does the Continental GT Convertible W12 drive?
The 2020 Bentley Continental GT Convertible W12 drives with a substantial feel, meaning the mass and size of the drop-top is continuously evident from behind the wheel. While that would likely be considered a negative attribute for something cumbersome and underpowered, it’s a positive trait for the agile and powerful Bentley where the goal is untainted luxury, opulence, and safety -- the operator is piloting something very distinct and special.
With physics-defying agility, the 2020 Bentley Continental GT Convertible attacks corners with the proficiency of vehicles much smaller and lighter. Tremendous amounts of power from the twin-turbo W12, a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, and a suspension system that all but eliminates body roll means the convertible can be driven at absurd levels of speed effortlessly. It is, in the most British fashion, swift.
It is astounding how much better the third-generation Bentley drives than its predecessors. Early Continental GT models shared architecture with the Volkswagen Phaeton, which delivered conservative handling traits (read that as heavy understeer) when pushed aggressively. The new Porsche-based platform is lighter and better balanced, which means the new model is eager to leap from corner-to-corner with balance and poise. The 2020 Bentley Continental GT Convertible is an absolute joy to drive.