Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Compared to the more expensive 6.0-litre W12 engine, you would think that the Bentley Continental GTC performance may suffer when fitted with a smaller V8 powerplant. The facts are that the 4-litre V8 with not just one but two turbos delivers 500bhp and 660Nm of torque, which is almost as much as its bigger 6.0-litre W12 sibling. The 6.0-litre behemoth kicks out 567bhp and 700Nm, but given its extra weight the V8 offers nearly identical performance.

The V8's dash to 60mph from standstill takes 4.7 seconds and top speed is 187mph, which stands in marked contrast to the W12 that delivers a 0-60mph time of 4.4 seconds 0-60 and a top speed of 195mph. Not a lot in it at all.

In fact, throw in the aural delights of the V8 and the fact that power builds from low down all the way to the redline it’s not only devastatingly quick in a straight line but also very addictive thanks to the V8 burble that builds to a hard bark as the revs rise.

Both engines deliver a strong clean pull through the rev range and as the engine hits peak torque the revs rise even quicker. The W12 edges the V8 in that it feels more muscular in the way it puts the power down, but as the figures state there isn’t a lot in it.

Eight-speed automatic gearbox

Making the most of both engines’ broad spread of power is an eight-speed automatic gearbox that slips between the gears easily and near silently - unless you are planting the throttle down hard, in which case the change in engine note gives away the gear changes.

There is a sequential mode where you can use the gear stick to push forward or pull back to move up or down a gear, or for the full racing driver effect there are paddle shifters mounted behind the wheel to change gear.

Given how slick the automatic mode is there is little to be gained by using the sequential mode other than the joy of dictating when the next gear should slot home.

Despite the phenomenal performance of the engine the handling is not characteristic of an outright sports car. Bentley claims this is the stiffest four-seater convertible on the market, and it comes with four-wheel drive as standard so traction is never an issue... but its weight is.

Fully laden the Bentley Continental GT is nearly three tonnes (both the V8 or W12 weigh the same at 2900kgs), which is heavier even than a Range Rover – that’s staggering given it’s fitted with a fabric roof rather than metal. The four huge rubber boots and the four-wheel drive all combine to deliver huge levels of grip, but there’s no doubting that the weight really makes the car work hard through corners.

Brake hard and you feel the mass pushing the car forwards. It never feels out of control but you can feel the war between the brakes wanting to stop the car and the weight trying to keep it going.

Compared to most cars, the Bentley Continental GTC has incredible handling but compared to cutting-edge supercars and lightweight sports cars it’s a bit of a biffa. Use it for what it is - a Grand Tourer that’s able to hoover up the miles between London and Portofino with alarcrity - and you will be rewarded with a sumptuous and thoroughly engaging drive.