OLD age must have set in. The thought of dropping the top no longer lights a fire within.
Yep, I'm beyond the need to have the sun beating down on my head and the wind noise buffeting my ears. That was until we had a steer of the Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible.
Whereas the lure of lid dropping is traditionally restricted purely to evaluation moments, this big British brute had us abandoning the roof on every occasion.
The source of our obsession was a symphonic V8 engine which pumps out a soundtrack which we could play on repeat.
Although one thing we wouldn't like to replicate is the asking price … just shy of $450,000 before adding on-roads.
Dripping with extravagance, the Continental cabin is something special.
Embroidered Bentley wings emblems on the seats add to the internal appeal and at every door opening it feels like a sense of occasion.
Just opening and closing the air vents is a joy with the chrome knobs feeling heavy, solid and expensive.
There's no array of technical gizmos to baffle the operator, with the air con controllers at the base of the touch-screen offering quick temperature and fan adjustment. A button on the console raises and lowers the roof in about 20 seconds and, with the raft of electrical adjustment available in the front seats, makes it simple to hide from the wind.
Those in the back do receive more of the open air treatment, but with limited legroom in the back it's rare that you'd travel too far with a full house on board.
On the road
More power… why wouldn't you opt for the "S" over the basic V8? With the twin turbochargers nestled between the V, Bentley has further massaged this barn- storming V8 to pump out 389kW and 680Nm - that's an extra 16kW and another 20Nm.
The end result is just plain savage.
Quite the heavy beast, with a kerb weight of 2470kg, the bent eight moves this refined Englishman with unbridled ability.
It will sprint from 0-100km in less than five seconds. That's mighty brisk.
Attack a bend and the Continental can feel its scale disadvantage, yet remains well planted and absolutely brutal when you truly explore its ability.
One touch of the suspension button and you can alter the ride settings of the air suspension, although even sport modes does a stellar job of soaking up the lumps and our car was also armed with larger 21-inch rubber.
But the sound generated by the V8 is best experienced with the top down.
At full noise the powerplant plays a commanding tune from the dual pipes as the scenery becomes a blur.
It has a fine partnership with the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission which delivers timely swapping of cogs and hangs onto to the shifts longer than the basic V8 stablemate.
Anchors on our machine were bolstered by the optional carbon ceramic brakes, something which we'd go without given they generated a fair amount of squeal and are only something that would really be beneficial on the track.
What do you get?
Precision is everywhere you look, from the leather trimmed paddles on the steering wheel, to the Breitling clock which sits in the middle of the dash.
Also on the complimentary list are the 20.3cm touch with 30GB hard drive which has TV capability, sat nav, satellite radio and Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, dual zone air-con, air suspension, 20-inch alloys, bi-xenon lights with LED running lights, power boot function and keyless entry with push button start.
We'd also be tempted by the $16K Mulliner pack featured here, which includes the 21-inch black wheels, Bentley wings on all seats, indented leather hide on the cabin headlining, knurled sports gear lever, drilled alloy petals and the jewel filler cap.
Consumption figures in the realm of 11 litres for every 100km might sound thirsty but it's about four litres/100km better than the W12 option. Most modern V6s struggle to achieve that, so with good behaviour you could achieve decent figures… yeah right.
Servicing costs won't worry buyers looking to shell out this kind of money, but needless to say it's not cheap.
Function and form, the drop-top manages to add some commonsense into the mix. Four adults can fit, it's tight, but can be done.
There is also voice activated technology to operate everything from the phone to the sat nav, although we found it struggled with many basic commands - perhaps we needed a stiffer upper lip.
Attention comes complimentary with the Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible. It's sizable, has imposing on-road presence and its drop-dead gorgeous with brilliant lines and outstanding cabin finishes.
Beautiful and expensive. It's breathtaking.
The Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible is a plush, extravagant cruiser with a dark side. Playing an outstanding soundtrack from the exhaust the big drop top may well feel its weight when the going gets twisty, but that meaty V8 is strong as well as symphonic and quickly has you forgiving any shortfalls.
What matters most
What we liked: Cabin finishes, beautiful engine note, drop-top insulation.
What we'd like to see: Introduction of latest safety equipment, improved voice recognition system.
Warranty and servicing: Three year/100,000km warranty and servicing every 15,000km or annual.
Model: Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible.
Details: Two-door four-seat all-wheel drive luxury performance convertible.
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8 generating maximum power of 389kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 680Nm @ 1700rpm.
Transmission: Eight-speed ZF automatic.
Consumption: 10.9 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance: 0-100kmh in 4.5 seconds.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $446,000.
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