Motoring | Test Drives

New Bentley Continental drops its top

With the arrival of the Continental GTC convertible, Bentley now gives the region a choice of two supreme Grand Tourers. Dejan Jovanovic decides whether he'd rather have the drop-top or the tin-top in his fantasy garage

  • By Dejan Jovanovic, wheels magazine
  • Published: 00:01 November 25, 2011
  • Wheels

Bentley Continental GTC
  • Image Credit: Silvia Baron/ANM
  • Under acceleration from the massive grunt afforded by the W12 twin-turbo engine, the rear end squats while the front does its admirable best to pop a wheelie.
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I'm being tossed around like a fattoush. Considering some of the hype generated by the new tin-top Bentley Continental GT surrounding its improved chassis and handling, it's pretty obvious that the drop-top isn't as blessed or as talented. The sofa facing the steering wheel is doing a feeble job of keeping me upright and in roughly the right direction around the highway on ramps and exits, as the Conti GTC wallows like a land yacht.

The thing is, it's kind of meant to be a land yacht. Its level of rake under braking is laughable: the car attempts to plough the earth. And under acceleration from the massive grunt afforded by the W12 twin-turbo engine, the rear end squats while the front does its admirable best to pop a wheelie. Maybe some sissy wheels would've been a good idea, Bentley?

OK, the fattoush is now thoroughly tossed and ready to be served. But I've already had my fill and there's definitely no room for seconds. I'm slowing right down to cruising speeds and admitting defeat: the new Continental GTC is not a sportscar. What it is, though, is one amazing Grand Tourer.

That sort of comes with the territory. What we have here is a bunch of Super-Formed (a kind of advanced production technique) aluminium (which also allows for the more sculpted design you see here, rather than the bulbous old car), a beefed-up pair of V6 engines emitting 567bhp and 700Nm of torque (in total, not each), new ZF Quickshift six-speed transmission that's made of cashmere (I presume), wider front and rear track for better handling (that's a fail) and a more aggressive front and rear torque split.

I've just wasted your time, because all you should've taken away from that last paragraph is: blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. None of it matters. What does is that the Bentley is exquisitely presented with a classy design mated with limitless road presence. With 20in or 21in wheels, it does have a bit of an SUV ride height thing going on but that helps to iron out the road like a giant steam roller and transport passengers — top up, or down — in quiet, blissful comfort.

The cabin is impeccable too and your imagination alone is the limit. Our tester came with questionable grey leather and light wood veneer, but the important thing is the build quality and fit and finish which are second to none. I'm not so sure about the forced nature of the sweeping centre console contrasting the traditional slab-sided dashboard but there's no faulting the whole feel of this very special place.

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Bentley also maintains its established values mixed with some modernisation quite well, throwing in a 30GB infotainment system and sound by Naim.

There are some issues, sadly. Slam the door and it wobbles, leaving you in that frozen state when you're anticipating broken, and expensive, glass. That's what happens when you turn a coupé into a convertible, I guess.

As for interior ergonomics Bentley gets most of the stuff spot on but you've no idea whether the indicators are on or off, because you can't see the illuminated arrows against a grey background in daylight. You also have no idea what setting the air conditioning is on because the system doesn't have its own dedicated display, so it's a wild guess. Your saving grace is that in the Middle East, you always just set it on deep freeze anyway and leave it at that. There is an issue with the extremely cushy seats, too; the neck-warmer controls are a bit of a pain to use because the system takes a moment too long to heat up or cool down (which in turn means you have to wait a while before deciding on just the right temperature), and it's all too easy to command a blast of furnace air by mistake. Then there's the central display unit; bright, colourful, easily legible and very large. But also straight out of a Volkswagen such as, say, a well-specced Touareg.

That's just bad form when you're a prestigious boutique carmaker like Bentley. Or should I say, a giant like Volkswagen…

Is the Bentley Continental GTC a better car than the Bentley Continental GT? No, because the GTC's roof comes down, and that means the GT handles better. So should you buy a Bentley Continental GTC over a Bentley Continental GT? Yes of course, because the roof comes down in the GTC. What a silly question…

Specs

Model Continental GTC
Engine 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12
Transmission Six-speed auto, AWD
Max power 567bhp @ 6,000rpm
Max torque 700Nm @ 1,700rpm
Top speed 314kph
0-100kph 4.8sec
Price Dh1.1m (approx.)
Plus Ultimate Bentley; you may as well show off
Minus Not the most exciting car to drive

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