In the time we've spent so far with Bentley's latest Continental, we've found it to be the epitome of everything the marque entails. Power, elegance, comfort, refinement; you name it, the GT has it. Except, of course, the ability to shed its roof and expose its occupants to the open air above.
All of that changes today though, with the launch of the third generation Continental GTC. Obviously it's very closely related to the Coupe on which it is based; power, for example, comes from the same combination of 6.0-litre W12 and eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Its 635hp and 664lb ft propelling the GTC to 60mph in 3.7 seconds, one tenth slower than the Coupe, and on to an identical top speed of 207mph.
There are a few noteworthy differences, though, and they don't all revolve around the roof. The body-in-white is 20 per cent lighter than it was in the previous model, yet it's five per cent stiffer than before, too. This has been achieved thanks to the "intelligent utilisation" of aluminium and high-tensile steel, and should allow the GTC to retain most of the dynamic ability offered by the hardtop despite the loss of its roof structure.
Attention to detail is one of the defining characteristics of any Bentley, and as such many of the Coupe's most beguiling creature comforts find their way into the GTC. The three-sided 12.3-inch touchscreen of Bentley's rotating display makes a welcome comeback, as do the cut-crystal headlights, dual-veneered facias - which use over 10 square metres of wood for each car - and 15 individual carpet options.
Unique to the Convertible is the all-important neck warmer, which has been redesigned to be both warmer and quieter than before, and combines with the heated steering wheel, seats and armrests to make year-round open-top motoring a more enticing prospect. Moreover, the car gets the latest Pirelli P Zero tyres, developed to create a noise cancelling effect by "creating less friction against the road without compromising grip", however that works...
Then there's the soft top. Available in seven colours including a "contemporary interpretation of British tweed," the Z-fold Convertible roof utilises an all-new combination of insulating materials to deliver a ride as quiet as the previous generation hardtop GT. Impressive stuff. It can be raised or lowered in 19 seconds while traveling at up to 30mph and "transforms the Continental GT Convertible from a luxurious coupe into an open-top Grand Tourer at the touch of a button".
Other than that it's largely as you were from the Coupe. Except for the price, that is, which starts at £175,100 - around £19,000 more than the hardtop - and is a number, we'd imagine, that will increase as quickly as the one on the speedometer can once options boxes start getting ticked.