For a car that’s now entering its teenage years, the Bentley Continental GT has aged with a surprising degree of dignity. And yet despite numerous evolutionary upgrades since 2003, it remains much as it was in the beginning.
Bentley has introduced a variety of styling tweaks inside and out for the 2016 model year, and there are four different versions of the latest GTC to choose from. The entry level V8 which costs £154,400 and has 500bhp; a more thrusting V8S which costs £164,800 and has 521bhp; and standard and Speed version of the W12 twin-turbo engine with 582bhp or 627bhp respectively.
Dynamically, the GTC is all but identical to the coupe, bar a few extra kilograms here and there to offset the reduction in structural rigidity thanks to the removal of its roof. But to be honest, you don’t really notice it in a straight line. When a car weighs quite a lot more than two tonnes no matter what form it takes, adding a couple of kilograms to the recipe doesn’t exactly alter the overall flavour of the dish.
In all its guises the GTC feels majestically brisk; in GT Speed trim it merely feels a little bit faster still, although with the roof down it actually sounds better as a V8.
Where you do notice the difference between the coupe and the GTC is in the ride quality. However good the road surface may be beneath the car’s 20-inch (front) and 21-inch (rear) tyres, there is always that little bit more going on beneath your backside in the Convertible. The worse the road surface, the more obvious the GTC’s minor lack of structural integrity seems, although you’d never go so far as to regards this as an issue.
And the tradeoff, of course, means you can drop the roof at the press of a button whenever you like, at which point the GTC’s sense of majesty goes to another level. After all, if you are going to drive a Bentley Continental, you may as well drive one and be admired at the same time…
Visually you can pick the 2016 GTC out thanks to its new grille, a mildly redesigned front bumper, a new diffuser on the Speed versions at the back and a tiny new boot spoiler. The light surrounds also get a touch of chrome to pep them up front and rear while the cabin has undergone a very minor facelift, too, with a new clock design, more sculpted gear change paddles and some fresh colour options.