2016 Bentley Continental GT W12 Convertible Review

by Autobytel Staff
January 13, 2016
3 min. Reading Time
2016 Bentley Continental GT W12 Convertible 006

2016 Bentley Continental GT W12 Convertible 006

Sunken 820 feet beneath the frigid Atlantic Ocean along Norway’s coast is the Atlanterhavstunnelen or Atlantic Ocean Tunnel. This three-mile-long engineering marvel, which serves as a crucial link for the region’s residents, is so designed that vehicles entering from Kirkelandet Island plummet down a steep 10-percent grade before bottoming out and climbing up out of the deep passage. I expected some claustrophobia from driving far beneath the sea, but I did not expect the choking cloud of combustion exhaust — dirty air is heavier than clean air — that had puddled in the concrete tube.

It was the only time during my test of the 2016 Bentley Continental GT W12 Convertible that I wanted to close the roof of this exceptional motorcar. Had I deployed the thick, four-layer heavily insulated, power-operated top before my deep dive below the Norwegian Sea, the climate control system would have passed the tunnel’s turgid air through an active carbon microfilter to scrub it clean. Instead of tasting soot, I would have been enjoying the aroma of traditionally tanned leather.

Next time, I mused.

Destination Norway

Norway was otherwise a perfect venue for experiencing the refreshed Bentley. All new Continental GT models arrive with a host of upgrades and improvements (a few exterior tweaks, some innovative technology, more power, and upgraded appointments), proving it is possible to make a car that is already excellent into something spectacular. It was the Convertible, though, that seemed ideal for exploring the Scandinavian countryside during the season when the sun barely sets. I grabbed the keys to a Continental GT W12 Convertible in Camel with an as-tested price of $269,035, and though I’m not a fan of tan vehicles, the Bentley’s metallic gold glowed magnificently in the soft Norwegian summer light, and the two-toned interior was warm and inviting. I could find fault with neither the car’s color scheme nor the setting.


Visual Enhancements

Visual enhancements for the new model year include a re-sculpted front bumper to emphasize the more pronounced front fenders and smaller radiator shell, new chrome accents at the rear, and a restyled boot for improved aerodynamics. The cabin’s controls have been fiddled with, too, for better ergonomics, and more bright work on the instrument panel enhances the aura of opulence throughout the Bentley. New 20- and 21-inch wheel designs lend a fresh twist to the GT’s considerable curb appeal.


Upgraded W12 Engine

Freshened, too, is the model’s twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine, which has been upgraded over last year’s rating of 567 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque and now produces 582 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque. Even better, a new variable displacement system allows cylinder deactivation under partial throttle, meaning the W12 then can operate as a six-cylinder and return up to five-percent better fuel economy.


0-60 Sprint

An 8-speed automatic sourced from ZF sends power to all four wheels. Despite a curb weight of 5,500 pounds — nobody said luxury was light — the two-door launches briskly off the line and never looks back. According to Bentley, the Continental will sprint from 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds. With a terminal velocity of 196 mph, passengers had better hold on to their hats.

I spent a full day touring the western coast of Norway in the W12 Convertible, enveloped by a level of effortless grace delivered only by the best of the best. And, despite temperatures in the mid 60s, I am delighted to say that I never closed the roof. Would you have?



With the top down, windows up, and the netted wind blocker in place just aft of the front seats, buffeting from the wind is minimal even at highway speeds. Conversation with the other front passenger is easy. In the colder sections, I turn on the heated seats, heated steering wheel and the neck warmers — vents blow fan-forced warm air out of the head restraints — and the result is cozy warmth. When the roof is raised, an automatic process that takes about 25 seconds, the cabin is transformed by such effective noise isolation that it is nearly as quiet as the coupe’s interior.



The W12 is smoother than the V8, but its exhaust note isn’t as aggressive. There is a slight bit of delay after the throttle is mashed, but once the boost arrives the engine pulls as if trying to achieve escape velocity. The transmission is very responsive to the needs of the driver, even being aggressive in the gate’s “S” (sport) mode. The column-mounted shift paddles are awkwardly placed and gimmicky, but I suppose few Bentley owners ever use them.



There is a remarkable difference in the way the various Continental GTs drive. While the V8 S and Speed models encourage aggressive behavior, the W12 Convertible seems to ask for a bit more driver decorum, covering ground with an almost noble disdain. Yet, push the big soft-top hard into a corner, and it will surprise with its tenacity.



The 2016 Bentley Continental GT W12 Convertible exudes style, class and prestige, supported by a powerful and proficient four-season powertrain. Though it’s probable that I’ll never again tour Norway under the long summer sun, cocooned within one of the world’s finest automobiles, but if there is a next time, I’ll be sure to put the top up before descending into the Atlanterhavstunnelen.


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