Brits buy more convertibles than anybody else in Europe because there’s little more pleasurable than blasting through the cold air with the roof down

Price: From £152,900

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8

Power: 521bhp @ 6,000rpm

Performance: 191mph, 25.9mpg, CO2 254g/KM

The sun is setting and I’m cutting along the A1 in rural Lincolnshire with the top down. I am on my way to a 10-year university reunion in York and I’m driving a bright-red Bentley convertible with a twin-turbo V8 engine and enough leather to open an out-of-town furniture store.

I haven’t hit the big time, alas, as this is, of course, a borrowed test car and when I arrive at the reunion most of my old college friends will no doubt take one look at my wheels and think I’m an attention-seeking idiot. That may be true – as we all know convertible drivers deserve it.

Nonetheless, we Brits buy more convertibles per capita than anybody else in Europe because there’s little more pleasurable on four wheels than blasting through the cold air with the roof down.

Most likely you’ll think that I’m foolish for driving a £100k-plus Bentley, let alone doing it in the depths of winter, but let me allay a few of your concerns. First up, there’s the issue of cost and admittedly £152,900 is a very hefty sum. Obviously I’m not saying that you should – or could – go and buy a brand new Bentley. But for those tempted by a different set of wheels, what about a perfectly good second-hand Mazda MX-5? You can pick one of those up for around £10,000 and get much the same thrill.

Then there’s the issue of practicality. Well, this model comes with heated seats and something called a neck warmer which cleverly blows zephyrs of hot air over your neck when you’ve got the roof down in December. Plus, the convertible’s four-layer cloth roof is just as refined as the coupé version’s metal roof. The boot is vast, too.

During my brief time with it, I had other worries. Of more concern to me than its price and practicality was what happened when I arrived in York, a city of tight parking spaces and narrow lanes with fearsome stone kerbs.

If I’d have been a traditional Bentley owner (think Simon Cowell) I could have left it anywhere and ignored the cost in parking tickets and kerbed wheels. As I’m not, so I had to take the park-and-ride. There was one unexpected benefit of this motoring indignity; none of my old mates could take the mickey out of me for driving a bright-red convertible in December.

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