2016 Bentley Continental GT Convertible Coastline Drive


You needn’t have a near-death experience to go into the light. Simply driving a 2016 Bentley Continental GT Convertible up California’s majestic Highway 1 will do. Like a lover’s caressing touch, this Bentley is sensually opulent enough to make you shudder. Pair a car of the Conti’s caliber with breath-arresting scenery, and you have an experience akin to walking into the light, or better yet, driving into it.

In my 30 years as a California resident, I had never used “the 1” as my main route to San Francisco. If you take the direct route, Interstate 5, you’re looking at a five-and-a-half-hour trip, but that’s as boring as reading the Internal Revenue Code. I don’t care what car you’re driving: I-5 through California’s digestive tract is mind-numbing. The alternative is to take U.S. 101. It adds an hour to the L.A.-S.F. journey, but more importantly, it adds scenery. The 101 kisses coastline, winds through rolling hills, and dances through agricultural countryside. And if the 101 is a swift pain-reliever to the 5’s aching ennui, Highway 1 is full-blown heroin.

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2016 Bentley Continental GT Convertible by Manuel Carrillo III

2016 Bentley Continental GT Convertible by Manuel Carrillo III

Enlarge Photo

Most of California State Route 1 is great, but the Big Sur section (the stretch between San Luis Obispo and Carmel) is the most scenic. In fact, the United States Department of Transportation has recognized that section of Highway 1 as a National Scenic Byway. Yep, like USDA meat, this road is government-approved.

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Unfortunately, the speeds you tend to travel on Route 1 are government-approved. They’re slow, and often well below the designated speed limit. Along the route you’ll often find yourself behind families of tourists in rented Dodge Caravans. Apparently, scenic heroin’s side-effect on the non-auto enthusiast includes a light right foot.

But, somehow, I didn’t care I was taking it slow on Highway 1. The Bentley Continental GT Convertible, while capable when you need it to be quick, is one of the few cars that’s satisfying to drive slowly. Because of its combination open-road power and clogged traffic luxury, I think it’s the best new car you can buy specifically for the task of driving up Route 1. Anything sportier would be torture to drive slowly. Anything more luxurious would call for a chauffeur. Of all the ingredients, I blame the twin-turbo W-12’s satisfying-while-slow nature. It’s silky in any rev range. When ambling about, it’s as if the motor creates frequencies that throw you into a meditative state.

If you fight the tranquility and hammer the W-12’s 582 ponies, you’ll tap into the car’s extraterrestrial levels of engineering. The VW-sourced mill nearly beckoned with me to rail on this car, but for the right reasons. When you go fast in this car, you’re not doing it because your inner child is commanding you. You’re doing it for science. Think about it. Anytime you hustle this 5,500-pound bank vault to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, you’re achieving a miracle of physics.

2016 Bentley Continental GT Convertible by Manuel Carrillo III

2016 Bentley Continental GT Convertible by Manuel Carrillo III

Enlarge Photo

Once you ease off the throttle, the Bentley’s smoothness returns to the forefront, and it doesn’t end with the motor. Within the first fewfeet of driving the Continental GT Convertible, you become smitten with how it can smooth-talk you. It communicates so much softness through all its sensation points, you’d think a pick-up artist was whispering through your fingertips and backside. In a flash, this car could convince Helen Keller that a romp in the Queen’s chambers would be the best course of action.

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