Bentley Continental GTC – $200,000.49
Ah, the sheer excess of it all. This driving expression is less about the driving than about the experience. The fine folks at Bentley insisted that we drive their new Bentley Continental GTC – the cabriolet version of the popular and successful Bentley Continental GT coupe. How could we say no?
Note the price of this particular car was $200,000.49. Staffers at AutoPacific and VehicleVoice wondered if they could negotiate down that final 49¢.
The Bentley arrived in an absolutely gorgeous Neptune blue with a blue soft top that turned heads everywhere it went. The valets at Mastro’s Steakhouse in Costa Mesa insisted on parking it up front and center. Guess the Mercedes SLR and Lamborghini Gallardo did not rate that night. Other diners “OOOHED” appreciatively and engaged in banter about the car while waiting for their S-Classes and 7-Series.
Driving the Bentley you tend to be relatively sedate even though the car has 552HP and can come on like a freight train. It’s a car that can lump along in traffic with the occupants giving the hoi poloi the royal wave, or a car that can be pushed and driven enthusiastically. Punching the W12 powerplant (yep, the basically the same W12 found in the defunct Volkswagen Phaeton and the Audi A8) really pushed you back against the seat. The car feels fast and competent but cannot be called lithe and nimble.
Interior: Flamboyantly Upscale… Only the British Would Do It
The interior is an upscale mix of historic Bentley cues like the pull stops for the A/C registers to the beautifully finished switchgear, wood inserts and contrasting leather. The contrast of Neptune blue crash pad and upper door trim panels with the Magnolia environment was a touch of sophistication expected by British luxury cars that should be benchmarked by competition.
Continental GTC is a Small Big Car
The exterior ambiance of the GTC is that it is a big car, but it is not. It looks massive and hides a massive engine, but the interior is relatively cramped even in the front seats. The windshield is fast to give the Continental and Continental GTC their knock-dead-gorgeous styling and does not intrude much on ingress. The seating position is a bit low for a car in this class. Once again a tip of the hat to this being Bentley’s sports car.
First a and Foremost, GTC is a Coupe
Other than the absolutely gorgeous color and to-die-for interior trim and fittings, you have to remember the GTC is first and foremost a coupe. It’s really a two person car. Fitting folks in the rear seat requires them to be nimble and thin. A technique that works well to get folks into the rear seat is to lower the top, have them step into the rear seat footwell and then close the top over them. Egress is similar. Lower the top. They stand up and step out. Not quick but effective.
One Button Top is Very Easy
The top is actuated with one button. No trauma. The car does it all. Of course, the process takes a bit longer than in the 12-second Mazda Miata with its power retractable hardtop, but for a big car, the top operation is good. The top is a fabric affair. Maybe the best we have ever seen. It insulates the passengers from road and wind noise very well. While we would have preferred a retractable hardtop in this class and size car, the Bentley execution is hard to beat.
Now, where can I get that $Two Tenths?
Editor’s Note: While the Continental GTC is an outstanding example of a large coupe cabriolet its sporting bodystyle – either Coupe or Cabriolet – severely limits the usefulness of the car. It is certainly the perfect two-passenger car for an affluent person who wants to be noticed anywhere he or she goes. The sleeper in the bunch… launched much after the GT and GTC is the Continental Flying Spur. A more sedate four-door sedan, it rides on a stretched GT platform but has a much larger rear seat and the rear doors are very easy to get into and out of. Priced the same as the GT, the Flying Spur is an excellent choice for when you must take clients to dinner.
Can’t wait to drive one.