2013 Bentley Continental GTC review

25 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2013 Bentley Continental GTC review
Aston Martin DB9

2014 Bentley Continental GTC

The Bentley Continental GTC qualifies not only for its own zip code, but also the designation as an event on wheels. Able to attract attention from the push of its starter button, it’s a car that will have people talking at first glance.

And asking to pose with it at second.

Bentley invited us to live a faux lifestyle of the rich and famous, albeit briefly, in one of the brand’s strongest global markets: South Florida.

What is it?

The Bentley Continental GTC is a bespoke four-seat motorcar, crafted (not built) according to the exacting standards of coachbuilders from yesteryear but with the latest in technology under hood – er, bonnet . Using techniques derived from parent company Volkswagen, the Continental GTC combines the best of the old world, with the new.

One engine choice is available in this GTC line. Power for the GTC comes from a massively huge looking, but actually tightly packaged, six-liter, 12-cylinder twin-turbocharged and intercooled engine. Built in a W12 configuration (four banks comprised of three cylinders per bank), it produces 567 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and a stump-pulling 516 lb-ft of torque at a somnambulistic 1,700 rpm.

Fuel is delivered through port fuel injection rather than an increasingly common direct injection system.

For those with more sporting, lighter weight pretensions, a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with cylinder deactivation is also available in the form of the Continental GT V8 S.

Power from the W12 is transferred to the pavement through a ZF-built eight-speed automatic transmission (up two cogs from the 2013 model’s six-speed tranny) and then to a permanent all-wheel-drive system that starts with a 40:60 torque split which is variable depending on where traction is needed.

Our test model was equipped with carbon ceramic brakes with black calipers. Slotting in at an otherworldly $13,875, they certainly do bring things back under control following a rather spirited romp that potentially could exceed 195 mph. Conversely, you could buy a Kia Forte for rainy days instead.

The GTC is a custom car by virtue of all the options that exist for its owners. Bentley dealers can always help to order the car of your dreams but just in case you are actually traveling in such circles, you can always go to the company’s headquarters in Crewe, Cheshire, United Kingdom, to meet with design advisors who will be happy to truly personalize your new hooptie.

With choices ranging from exterior and interior colors, trim, wheels, plating, audio systems, and so on, the distinct possibility exists that no two Bentleys are actually alike.

What’s it up against?

An exclusive party, the GTC can frolic with other attendees such as the Rolls-Royce Wraith, Mercedes-Benz’s CL65 AMG, the Aston Martin DB9 Volante and Maserati Gran Turismo convertible.

How does it look?

The iconic grille returns, albeit more upright than before. An evolved look of the model that preceded it, the new Continental GTC has minimized curves and panel joints in an effort towards more cohesive design and construction. Body panels are made through the technique known as superforming, where aluminum is heated to more than 900 degrees F, and then shaped using air pressure.

LED lighting rings the headlamps and just the appropriate amount of bling adorns the car, keeping in mind that if it looks like metal on a Bentley, then so it is.

A properly shaped, multiple layer convertible canvas roof or hood as it’s called over there . actually looks well-suited to the ride that others can only wish for. In addition to the weather-treated fabric, acoustic glass and underbody panels do their part to maintain the coffin of solitude that manages to keep the extraneous outside noise to a minimum.

And on the inside?

As over-the-top that the Continental GTC is outside, inside is where the vehicle really begins to strut like the peacock it is. Start with the burled walnut veneer that adorns the dashboard. Beautifully figured, it would not look out of place on some of the world’s most expensive musical instruments.

All the creature comforts you can imagine including 14-way adjustable seating in front with heat and ventilation functions to keep you as cool or toasty as you desire. That’s what happens while you are enjoying the Shiatsu massaging function of the seats while cruising up the highway.

The leather seat coverings were some of the highest quality hides we have experienced, but were dyed in a surprisingly sedate choice of beige contrasted with brown leather-covered wings over the dashboard. Personally our choice would have veered more towards a nice Chianti tint. Entertainment, as though the GTC were not entertaining enough, came from the anything but standard audio system with 30 GB of storage space and an eight-inch touchscreen display.

If we had to find a failing in the GTC, it would be in the rear seats, which to our backs sit too straight up and down to be comfortable for an extended period of time.

But does it go?

A push of the GTC’s on button whirs a smallish sounding starter engine, perhaps the motor from a Volkswagen Jetta, to spin the W12 to life.

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Some in life are just gifted. Count Bentley as one of the lucky ones gifted with earthshaking acceleration that totally makes us forget they build 5,500 lbs. behemoths. Good for a 0-60 mph blast in 4.4 seconds, this is a fast car by any measure †especially once you consider its girth.

The EPA says to expect 12/20 mpg, which is terrible by most accounts but less appalling once this car’s size and power are factored in.

When unleashed, the GTC throws your neck back into the most luxuriously cushy headrests you’re likely to ever encounter. Making things better, our model was equipped with neck warmers, which pipe warm air down our neck on cold winter days. It’s another example of time shifting – in this case making a case for a longer periods of top down motoring.

That extra warmth means there is more time to take advantage of the GTC’s surprisingly deft handling.

The massive 21-inch Dunlop tires are directed via a ZF Servotronic speed-sensitive rack and pinion kit. The suspension is comprised of four-link double wishbones in front and a multi-link setup in the rear. Self-leveling dampers control the ride quality and can be varied in four steps from comfort to sport mode.

Steering, while not perfect, displayed good road feel that instilled confidence while at the same time making the GTC feel smaller than it actually is. The car does suffer from a lengthy throttle pedal tip in, but if we weighed this much, it would take a good shove to get us moving as well.

In the city, deliberate and well thought out moves are the order of the day. At speed on the highway, the GTC’s automatic dampers take over, constantly varying the ride as needed. Crisp turn-ins on sweeping and tight radius turns alike, are assisted by the moveable torque of the Bentley’s AWD system.

This girl corners extremely flat, despite the actual size of the vehicle. Rigidity is amazing considering this is a droptop, and a high performance one at that.

We gingerly dance around curves, taking care not to disrupt the flow to which we’ve become accustomed. We’re not sure that’s a result of imagining how much this car would have cost us ourselves, or the fact that it’s on loan from Bentley, but to return it with a ding or crease would not be in good form.

One of the finest motorcars available today, the Bentley Continental GTC convertible oozes gobs of refinement and a list of options in the cost is no object stratosphere of high-dollar supercars.

While clearly not a supercar in the same vein as a McLaren, Lamborghini or Ferrari, it is one of those rare examples of premium British craftsmanship.

2014 Bentley Continental GTC base price, $218,500. As tested, $251,005.

Carbon Ceramic Brakes, $13,875; Convenience Specification, $4,335; 21-inch alloy wheels, $2,235; Contrast stitching, $1,905; Neck warmer, $1,035; Seat ventilation and massage, $950; Embroidered Bentley headrest logos, $640; Alloy foot pedals, $565; Two-toned leather wrapped steering wheel, $440; Contrasting steering wheel stitching, $200; Gas Guzzler tax, $2,600; Destination, $2,725.

Photos by Mark Elias.

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