From £149,350
Sharper, lighter, more powerful Bentley Continental convertible is charming and effective

Our Verdict

Bentley Continental GTC

The superb V8 breaths new life into the Bentley Continental GTC

27 September 2011

What is it?

Anyone familiar with the second-generation Continental GT will recognise the latest GTC’s sharper styling lines, more upright grille and striking LED headlamps. Bentley wants this to be viewed as a more overtly sporting convertible – and one that gets you noticed.

That message should be carried through into the driving experience. The new GTC is 70kg lighter than its predecessor, has a 40mm wider track, retuned steering for sharper responses and sportier suspension settings.

The all-wheel drive system now has a 40/60 split front to rear, changed from 50/50 in a bid to dial out some understeer and allow a degree of steering on the throttle should the mood take you.

The 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged W12 now produces 567bhp (up from 552bhp), while torque is up by 37lb ft to 516lb ft and is coupled to a new six-speed transmission – dubbed ‘Quickshift’ – which halves gearchange times to 200 milliseconds and allows double downshifts. The 0-60mph sprint takes 4.5sec, 0-100mph is dispatched in 10.9sec and the top speed is 195mph.

The interior, too, is completely reworked in line with the GT’s, and includes a much-needed, all-new touchscreen infotainment system. Thinner front seats also increase space in the rear. As ever, leather, metal and carpeted surfaces abound, and Bentley promises roof-up noise insulation so good that “you’ll believe you’re in the coupé”.

What’s it like?

That a car of this size and weight that can take you from a standstill to 62mph in less than five seconds but still feel unrushed is nothing short of remarkable. That’s largely thanks to peak torque arriving so early in the rev band, and it bestows the GTC with a flexibility that means you have breath-taking pace on tap, or can lazily waft along.

The ride is reasonably forgiving, even on the optional 21 inch wheels fitted to our test car. Rivals perhaps have an edge here, but the standard is still extremely high. On very broken surfaces and under load the inherent compromises of taking the roof off are noticeable, but for the vast majority of the time – and on the mostly smooth test roads - the ride is excellent.

The handling is reasonable. While the Continental is obviously no sportscar, it does have a reassuring amount of feel without being overtly involving. It is also an excellently stable car in a straight line, even at higher speeds. Overall, it is a moderately involving car to push on in, and there’s certainly fun to be had from doing that.

Only the gearshift mechanisms disappoint slightly. The mechanical gearlever doesn’t feel special enough, while the steering wheel mounted shifters feel ill-placed and plasticky for a car of this provenance. It’s a shame as the shift itself is decent. The car also stops well even on standard brakes, another significant achievement given its size.

It’ll come as no surprise to learn that the interior is as well put together and luxuriously appointed as you’d expect for a car emerging from Bentley’s acclaimed Crewe HQ. It is a suitably special place to be up front, although the additional rear legroom thanks to the sculpted seats probably only goes so far to make travelling longish distances possible with small children. Adults in the rear seats would still struggle for kneeroom and height.

The new touchscreen multimedia system is a much-needed step forward too. The last generation dated the car to the previous decade the moment you got in an switched it on; this version looks much better, and works reasonably well.

Interior quirks – or irritations, depending on your point of view – are limited to foibles such as the positioning of the column stalks – it’s all too easy to hit the gear paddle when trying to indicate, for instance. Time and familiarity would help overcome this, no doubt.

There aren’t many compromises to make for having the fabric roof, either. Roof up the refinement is excellent, and there’s not much loss by taking it down. Wind buffeting is restricted to a small amount for the very tall, and the extra noise intrusion isn’t enough to stop conversation.

Should I buy one?

If you want a car that combines opulence, elegance and outright pace, all with the option of putting the roof down, then you should consider it. The GTC is remarkable for retaining so many of the coupe’s qualities and a credit to the no-compromise engineering standards at Bentley.

Yes, there is a price to pay for all this – both in terms of at the point of purchase, running costs and subsequent upkeep – but if those are the sort of fripperies that concern you then you won’t be in the market for this sort of car anyway.

The GTC isn’t a perfect car, but it is charming and effective. Rivals such as the Aston DB9 or Virage, or Ferrari California, have their own merits, but none come in a comparable package.

Bentley Continental GTC

Price: £149,350; Top speed: 195mph; 0-62mph: 4.8sec; Economy: 17.1mpg; CO2: 384g/km; Kerb weight: 2495kg; Engine: W12, 5998cc petrol; Power: 567bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 516lb ft at 1700rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd auto

Join the debate

Comments
11

27 September 2011

this seems almost entirely at odds with your view of the coupe - are they really that much different?

27 September 2011

2500kgs you are having a laugh, still the sort of car suited to the French rather than English Riviera.

27 September 2011

yes please, all I need is another £120,000

27 September 2011

Why is torque on 516 lb ft? That is feeble for a 6 litre twin turbo.

Mercedes S65 has 737lb ft!

0-100 in 10.9 is also weak.

DKW

27 September 2011

Autocar, with reviews of convertible cars, please show us what the car looks like with the roof up, including a shot which shows the rear and rear 3/4 visibility, and the legroom in rear seats where applicable (with the drivers seat in a realistic position). These things matter when considering coupe or cabriolet, but seem to be taboo in cabriolet reviews. Roof down shots are interesting but the roof will be up the overwhelming majority of the time in this country.

27 September 2011

No car shouts "Barclays Premier League" any louder than this Bentley.

GD

27 September 2011

[quote eseaton] 0-100 in 10.9 is also weak.[/quote]

Get real - who owns his own race track? Using that sort of take off on a public road is just shere madness.

As to the Autocar report asserting that this is no sports car - explain, please. You refer to a BMW 5 series as a sports car. Please let us have a definition of what is currently thought to be a sports car, now that clearly an open two seater is no longer the benchmark.

GB

27 September 2011

With over 100.000 VW Continentals now sold you can see why, another stunner from Bentley and about time as the coupé replacement/update has been out for ages..... Just the Flying Spur to update now and the set is complete. Popular with rich American females in LA and California. It is worth remembering this is almost a totally new car. I'd still have the coupé as I would not want to mess my hair as these spikes take ages to do right. I see baldy is moaning about the weight again, makes you wonder....

27 September 2011

[quote sputnik]With over 100.000 VW Continentals now sold you can see why[/quote] You silly billy it's 50.000 units sold..

27 September 2011

This my next car, I'm going to see it next week at the bentley launch it will be a great replacement for my current bentley GT coupe although I'm quite liking the idea of the V8 ...... And I'm not a footballer or any thing of the like just love the car

Don't judge me by my past, I don't live there anymore 

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