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Who drives a convertible in this heat? We do, if it happens to be a Bentley! This is our second Bentley test drive after we tested the Bentley Continental GT V8 Coupe version earlier. Boy, despite all the similarities, both cars are poles apart. Here's the lowdown:
This is the sexiest convertible in the market, period. A real head turner and why not? The honeycombe grille, the 21 inch wheels, the swoop character lines in front and back make for a very elegant yet imposing look. The brake calipers come with signature GT color styling and look very classy. I particularly love the head lights, they are very distinctive from other brands. The chrome exhaust tips come in a distinctive figure 8 form, while aerodynamic touches like side sills improve performance as well. This is one of those few convertibles that look great with or without the top down.
As expected the interior material is top of the line and the finishing impeccable. The handcrafted sporty seats come with Bentley badges and reveal soft touch leather and stitched unmatched in the industry. The gear lever comes in chrome and surrounding wood veneer comes in the luxurious Piano Black. The alloy foot pedals feel just right and the Breitling clock on the center completes the executive look. The soft top hood can be opened at maximum 30 km /h and take about 7 seconds to deploy. Simply put, the interior is so luxurious it's almost painful to even think about getting out of the convertible!
As expected, rear seats is kid zone due to the convertible's structure where rear legroom is minimized. The front leg room and head room is fairly adequate, however you might face some head room issues if you're over 6 ft tall. In terms of visibility, it's quite adequate from all pillars, rear view and side spaces have virtually no blind spot issues. There is a huge center glove box which takes care of accommodating cell phones or other knick knacks. The boot space is lesser compared to the GT V8 S Coupe at 260 liters, good enough for a couple of shopping bags. In terms of spaciousness, this is not the most spacious or 'practical' family car in the market.
This is one of the susceptible areas of the GT V8 S Convertible. A lot of features one takes for granted are surprisingly not there. No lane change warning? No collision alerts? No blind spot warnings? No head up display? No seat massage? Helloo! Thankfully, seat cooling is available, as the Bentley heats up pretty quickly in the open sun. When we collected the convertible, the center console and steering were quite heated up so seat cooling was a blessing. The steering, on the other hand did not have cooling, rather it had seat heating which is completely useless for the Gulf region. The seat memory options are located alongside the seat controls at the bottom, rather than being on the doors like the German models. Not the most ergonomic as it's a pain to select the right one given you can't see the memory options and you just have to 'feel' the correct button. The infotainment screen is smaller than expected, 8 inches. However the system itself is very intuitive and comes with 30 GB space for all your tech storage requirements. There are three standout features that make driving the GT V8 S a joy. First, the sound system is the best I have ever experienced in a car. Second, you can adjust the suspension settings through a wonderful infotainment system slider, ranging from Comfort to Sport, brilliant feature that a lot of models don't offer. Finally, the convertible height is also adjustable with Normal and High modes which makes you want to say "You in the office baby" aka Denzel Washington in Training Day!
No apologies here. This convertible is fast and accelerates like a rocket. The 4.0 liter V8 Supercharged engine roars a massive 521 horsepower and a whopping 680 Nm torque. Our 0-100 km acceleration test showed an average acceleration of 5.5 seconds on a hot day, in Sport Mode. Incidentally, this acceleration is the same as Chevrolet Camaro Convertible V8 which we drove recently. It's a joy to scream down highways and the adrenaline rush is palpable. The transmission is a ZF 8 speed automatic combined with cylinder deactivation option, which improves fuel efficiency. The paddle shifters are big and the shifting pleasure is far superior compared to other models.
One of the strongest points of Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible. Compared to the Coupe version, the brakes performed much better with this model, braking from 100 - 0 km in 3.0 seconds flat, which is very good compared to the 4.5 seconds performed by the Coupe. I love the fact that suspension is adjustable for 4 different settings from Comfort to Sport so it's equally enjoyable on leisurely cruises as well as sporty runabouts on mountain highways.
The convertible admittedly handles sharp corners at 100 km / h quite well, yet it pales in comparison to the exceptional handling and cornering capability of it's Coupe variant for obvious reasons. The Coupe is far better at handling than the convertible, yet the convertible is not bad and certainly much better than it's convertible rivals. Keep the car low, turn on Sport mode and negotiate sharp turns, it is great fun and the steering feedback is duly responsive.
Priced in the vicinity of 850,000 AED (price varies depending on customization), the Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible is the hallmark of convertibles in the automotive industy. It is under equipped when it comes to driver technologies and certainly well equipped when it comes to driving capabilities. It's not really a family car, it's more for the lone ranger CEO who likes to go out and meditate into the wind, maybe with a pretty face to tag along. Worth a serious look if you're one of those!