Bentley Continental GTC

We put the beautiful new Bentley GTC through its paces

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Appearances can be deceptive. The new Bentley Continental aims to please style conscious drivers who want to make a bold entrance, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it as offering form over function. Thanks to its revised chassis and upgraded engine, it’s also better to drive than ever before.

Bentley's Continental GTC doesn't just look good - it's also spectacular to drive.

The open-topped Continental GTC joins the coupe Continental GT and flagship Mulsanne as the third new Bentley launched in the last two years. It replaces the current Bentley GTC, launched in autumn 2006.

It’s billed as offering the ultimate wind in the hair experience, and is described by Bentley as the “most dramatic” looking car it offers.

And to underline this fact, it’s possible to raise or lower the enormous electrically powered canvas roof while you are on the move, at speeds of up to 20mph. Frankly, there are few more dramatic sights.

Video: Watch our video of the Bentley Continental GTC at Frankfurt

Powered by the same 6.0-litre engine W12 cylinder engine offered in the standard Continental GT, the GTC develops a mighty 567bhp and a staggering 700NM of torque – all of which is enough to ensure that this car delivers on its status as the world’s fastest four-seat convertible.

A six-speed automatic gearbox, which can be controlled by steering wheel mounted paddles, drives all four-wheels, while power is split 60:40 in favour of the rear axle, improving agility and corner exit speeds. Capable of 195mph – 19mph more than the 176mph Maserati GranCabrio, and 2mph more than the 193mph Ferrari California – the GTC’s trademark four-wheel-drive system will propel the car from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds.

It looks fantastic in the metal too. Subtle design tweaks over the previous model include sharper, crisper bodywork, and massive 21-inch alloy wheels. Inside, things are just as impressive – and our test car showed exactly what Bentley’s craftsmen are capable off with a mix of rich woods, metals and expertly stitched leathers. In total drivers can choose from a mind boggling 17 types of leather, and seven wood veneers, while a special process called “superforming” gives the aluminium bodywork its distinctive “billet” like finish.

Panels are heated to near melting point before being blown by a high-pressure jet of air over the body moulds. The aerospace inspired process offers up razor sharp creases and lines in the bodywork, and ensures a millimetre perfect fit-and-finish.

While the looks have no problems turning heads, Bentley is also promising that this all-new edition of the car will be more rewarding to drive than its predecessor thanks to its revised suspension and wider footprint on the road.

Under full throttle, there’s no denying the thrill of the power on offer. Though around 100kgs heavier than the standard Coupe and 0.1 seconds slower to 60mph, the car feels every bit as fast – if not a little faster, if you fold the roof down.

The steering can be adjusted on a sliding scale from comfort to sport via a bezel in the centre console. In the softest mode it's progressive and smooth, while in Sport it feels sharper - either way it's always accurate.

The suspension is at its best in comfort mode, isolating the cabin brilliantly from bumps and road noise but controlling the body well. If you're looking for ultimate speed though, the sport setting makes the dampers as firm as any sports car, allowing you to pick lines through corners you simply don't expect from a 2.5-tonne convertible.

Overall, the model is great fun to drive, particularly on open roads with sweeping corners, where the car follows driver inputs faithfully and you can use the power and torque on offer. On twistier sections it's every bit as nimble the Continental GT Coupe, and a match for smaller more focused cars like the Ferrari California and Maserati GranCabrio.

But the GTC is not just about outright speed. Lots of effort has also been spent ensuring this car meets Bentley’s rigourous targets on refinement and comfort. New soundproofing proves remarkably effective at shutting out road noise, while a revised, seven-layer thick rooflining shuts out roofnoise almost as effectively as a metal roof.

So, is there anything about this car we don’t like? Well, yes, because of its bulk the steering needs plenty of power assitance and that tends to mask any feedback about the available grip. But these are minor grumbles. Overall the GTC doesn’t just look like an exciting car to drive – on the road, it’s a thrill.

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