Bentley Continental

GT V8 S Convertible

Bentley Continental, front static
Bentley Continental, full front
Bentley Continental, top down static
Bentley Continental, side static
Bentley Continental, rear static
Bentley Continental, folding hood 2
Bentley Continental, dashboard
Bentley Continental, front seats
Bentley Continental, rear seats
Bentley Continental, boot
Bentley Continental, seat badges
Bentley Continental, phone
Bentley Continental, sat nav
Bentley Continental, brakes
Bentley Continental, alloy wheel
Bentley Continental, engine
Bentley Continental, console
Bentley Continental, side vent

THERE are two possible reactions to a Bentley that sounds like a purring lion heard through a rock group's sound system - and comes in retina-bruising yellow.

You'll either be given two fingers at the traffic lights - or instructions to 'park it over there, sir, because it's such a lovely car and we don't want it being scratched'.

Well, in more than 500 miles with the banana coloured beast there was not a single rude gesture, just lots of well mannered stares. If you value your privacy, don't buy a Bentley that looks as if its bodywork is illuminated from the inside.

The teenage lad liked it so much he captured the car on his mobile phone as it rumbled by in traffic; someone old enough to be his grannie correctly identified the car from fifty paces in the car park when her husband wondered out loud what it was.

The considerate parking came at a busy historic home open day when the only vacant spaces were reserved for disabled drivers. The Bentley was guided into a place because the man in charge knew there'd still be lots of room for people who properly qualified (there was).

But, you are asking; what is the car like? You know... how does it drive, how roomy is it, how much petrol does it drink? The sort of practical, everyday concerns we ordinary mortals have about our wheels.

Well, a Bentley owner has other things on his mind. If you're paying £164,800 for a car (read on for the extras) you won't have price high on the list of must-haves.

It must look as though craftsmen went without sleep to make your car perfect and it must let the world know (discreetly in black, less so in Monaco Yellow) you're a person of substance. It does.

It must also make you and your passengers feel utterly special every time they slip into its exquisitely leathered interior.

How could they not when confronted with seats covered in hide that might otherwise make £1,000 handbags or faced with a piano black dashboard sanded and lacquered up to 18 times before being passed as Bentley quality.

More practical points come much further down the list for consideration. For starters, although the Continental Convertible is a very big car (about as long as a Range Rover Sport and even heavier) it has room in the rear for a couple of pre-teens, at best.

That vast roof, which can be folded on the move at up to 20mph, has got to be stored somewhere when folded, which also means the boot is smaller than you'd expect. Big enough, though, for an expensive suitcase or two, which is rather more to the point of a car like this.

Keen drivers, once they've got used to the size and found a sweeping road or two will find themselves astonished at the way the car reacts to a firm prod of the elegantly alloyed throttle pedal.

Accompanied by the sound of close artillery fire from the optional sports exhaust (£1,935) it heads for the horizon as though warp drive had been engaged.

Here is a car that sits as so comfortably at 80mph that one eye needs to watch the big digital speedometer to keep points off the licence - even on a trip to Waitrose.

The optional ceramic brakes (£11,990 - yes, really) will haul you down from the car's 191mph top speed time and time again, although goodness knows where you'll be at the time. A 22mpg thirst on test means fewer trips to the pumps than you might imagine.

FAST FACTS

Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible

Price: £164,800

Mechanical: 521bhp, 3,993cc, 8cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 191mph

0-62mph: 4.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 25.4

Insurance Group: 50

C02 emissions: 254g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

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