2016 Bentley Continental GT Convertible Coastline Drive Page 2

Is the V-8-equipped car better? I haven't driven a Continental V8, but I have driven the twin-turbocharged, V-8-powered Flying Spur. Compared with the Continental GT W12, the Flying Spur V8 feels like a sports car. I had a lot of fun spurring Bentley's "entry-level" sedan. A V-8 Bentley, while undeniably refined, is more eager to get wild. The Flying Spur V8 is like a night out with DiCaprio and 20 models. This Continental GT with the W-12 is like a fireside chat with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Both are enjoyable, but they appeal to different personalities, and at different times. For this slow drive up the coast, the W-12 is a better companion, mostly because my testing regimen excludes plunging cars into the Pacific.

2016 Bentley Continental GT Convertible by Manuel Carrillo III

2016 Bentley Continental GT Convertible by Manuel Carrillo III

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At $274,790 as-tested, the last thing this car needs is saltwater submersion, but much of my road trip was spent getting the GT wet. I think this English car attracted English weather to sunny California. All the better, though. We need it. It felt like the Bentley needed it, too. Its all-wheel drive craved the slick roads. The skies may have been gray for much of my journey with the Continental GT, but as far as traction was concerned, it was 72 and sunny.

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Stopping at gas stations along the way up the coast, I received plenty of 72-and-sunny smiles. I even made a couple of new friends along the way. The Continental GT is an exercise in simple and distinguished design. This car attracts lots of attention.

I was surprised, however, that it was less of a head-turner once I got to San Francisco, but then I was reminded how S.F. is less car-obsessed than L.A. As my "victory lap" for making it safely into town, I took two runs down the famous slithering portion of Lombard Street. Not one head turned. Everyone was too occupied with their selfie sticks.

2016 Bentley Continental GT Convertible by Manuel Carrillo III

2016 Bentley Continental GT Convertible by Manuel Carrillo III

Enlarge Photo

I, however, remained occupied with the satisfaction of driving this fine automobile, and thus came to a realization. If you're going to buy a drop-top, and if your wallet can handle it, an ultra-luxurious car like the Bentley Continental GT Convertible is a good choice. Less-expensive, but sportier cars like an Aston Martin DB9 GT are best left in their coupe configurations. With sporty GTs, cowl shake dilutes the overall purpose of the car. The Continental GT is luxurious enough that its minor cowl shake is but a puny tenor peep amid a baritone blast of opulence.

Bentley's infotainment system, however, incites an aria of anger. It is more like Volkswagen's second-rate tech than Audi's leading-edge stuff. Getting a pain in your neck from Bluetooth pairing is something this end of the luxury car spectrum could do without.

Infotainment quibbles aside, I'm blown away by how well the Continental GT Convertible matches with Highway 1, and how well it matches with the imagined richer version of myself. My weekend with this car was so good, it changed me for the better. My flames of ambition are now burning brighter than ever. I need to figure out a way to be able to afford one of these cars someday because I really want to own one.

I had never dreamt of owning a Bentley Continental GT Convertible, but my experience with this car has changed my dreams, and it's made me want to strive harder. Many consumers are quick to call any automobile, no matter how nice, simply a four-wheeled machine. The Continental GT is the opposite of a machine. It's my muse for living a more lavish life, and realizing more of my hopes and dreams. 

When I begrudgingly dropped this car off at SFO after my weekend with it, I had to stand still and give the Bentley one long stare; not to say "Goodbye", but to say, "See ya later." I'm unable to testify to the effectiveness of positive affirmations, but I'm willing to try repeating the following one if there's any chance it could help. I will own a Bentley Continental GT.


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