In the 99 years since it started making cars, Bentley has offered its well-heeled, well-groomed customers a bounty of choices. Endless color palettes, exotic woods, sacred cow leathers, massaging seats, huge engines, active safety technologies—the sun never sets on this list of options. And yet, it has taken nearly a century for the British automaker to offer a convertible with a roof made of the most well-accented, most typically British of materials.
Yes, the new Bentley Continental GT Convertible, unveiled today, has an optional tweed roof. (To be specific, a “contemporary interpretation of traditional British tweed,” meaning it looks like tweed but is still the kind of material that’s good for car roofs.)
So begins long list of goodies and gidgets, coolest among them the also-new “rotating display.” This being 2018, Bentley installed a 12.3-inch touchscreen display in the center console. But leaving such Apple CarPlay-supporting modernity lying around visible is as gauche as letting the servants use the grand staircase. Never fear! Just push a button and the display panel glides out of the dash and nestles out of view, revealing nothing more offensive than wood veneer (eight types available). Oh, there’s more. To celebrate the pantheon of British explorers who canvassed the planet “discovering” things native peoples took for granted, spin the console thing again to reveal a trio of analog dials: a compass, temperature gauge, and chronometer, which you might call a stopwatch.
Bentley hasn’t announced pricing for this car just yet, but considering the current car starts at $236,100, you shouldn’t expect a bargain. After all, the rest of the car follows the standard Bentley pattern of engineering and design that’s so excessive, you can only be impressed. The 6-liter W12 engine produces 626 brake horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, enough to hit 60 mph in under four seconds and top out at 207 mph. The start-stop system kills the engine not just at red lights, but when the car is coasting, and helps get the car’s EPA mileage rating up to a not-too-shabby 20.2 mpg.
The antiroll system plays with the air suspension to keep the 3-ton behemoth flat through the corners, and disc brakes with 420-millimeter rotors mean it can stop on a silver dollar. Bentley also redesigned the Continental’s headrest-embedded neck warmer (which emits warm air and is a genuine delight on a chilly day) to be quieter and more effective, and it offers a 10-speaker Bose audio system as well as a 18-speaker, 2,200-watt Naim setup.
The convertible roof can open or close when the car’s going up to 30 mph, and it uses new insulation and sealing materials to make the car’s interior as quiet as the last generation’s coupe. Now, how about some leather patches to go with that tweed—on the side view mirrors, perhaps?