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The automotive name Bentley conjures up images of stately sedans designed to carry occupants in luxurious serenity. Over time, that distinguished, albeit imposing view has changed both in the overall look in addition to when it comes to power. Case in point: the evolution of the 2021 Continental coupe and convertible.

The styling of the Continental certainly sets it apart. Naturally, the large rectangular grille is retained but this time, reimagined with a very low hood line and large single head- lights. But the real statement is the low body and roofline for a four-seat convertible. Performance is highlighted with chrome 22-inch wheels and low-profile tires, while in the rear area, four hefty exhaust pipes command attention with every engine rev. Nicely shaped taillights and a small spoiler are also present. Needless to say, it’s one very attractive automobile. Nods of approval were common, from the general public to the autocross drivers at a sports car racing event at Aloha Stadium.

Besides the Bentley convertible that was tested, a coupe is also available. There are also two power-plant choices, both impressively robust. The optional engine is a twelve cylinder in a W-cylinder configuration producing 626 horsepower. The test car had the “base” V8 engine, which generates a stout 542 ponies. An eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission handles the gear changes. Interestingly, power goes to all four wheels. An adjustable suspension has four height set- tings and steering effects all four wheels.

As one would expect from these specs, performance at any speed is not lacking. The zero-to-60 time with the V8 is a swift four seconds. Top speed is 198 miles per hour. With eight gears available, the average fuel mileage is a reasonable 19 mpg. When the start button is pushed, a deep rumble resonates. But once on the road, silence from the engine and suspension is all that follows. Moreover, the gear changes are hardly felt unless the throttle is pushed. Paddles behind the steering wheel can manually control gearshifts. And with four settings to adjust the suspension, the ride is soft or more taut depending on one’s preference. For the full view of the sky, a push of a button causes the top to quickly disappear into a covered area.

As one would suspect, the interior is a sumptuous mix of leather surfaces, chrome, and wood. Multiple squares and lines are embossed into the leather in various places. On the dash and other areas, light-colored wood pieces are peppered throughout. Classic round air vents with chrome pull off-and-on switches are also found. More modern electron- ics are found in the dash pod. It has a traditional-looking video speedometer and tachometer situated on either side of a small video screen with plenty of viewing choices. When the car is started, the wood in the center dash flips and a 12.9-inch info video screen appears. Maps, tons of information and even local news, can be easily shown either on the touch screen or one divided into three parts. The rear area seats two, and with a push of a button, the trunk opens or closes as needed.

Unsurprisingly, Bentley delivers with the Continental. Great looks while retaining the traditional spins are provided. But most importantly, superior performance and handling are also part of the deal.

MODEL: Convertible, 4-seater, front engine, 4-wheel drive
POWERTRAIN: Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, 542 horsepower, 8-speed automatic trans- mission, 4-wheel drive
PERFORMANCE: 0-60 time: 4.0 seconds; top speed: 198 mph
BASE PRICE: $227,200; AS
TESTED: $303,910

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