Bentley’s latest convertible is an incredible performer that oozes style and luxury.
IF you had a million bucks to spend as you wish, and decided on a luxurious and powerful four-seater convertible, you won’t have a hard time choosing one.
This is because there is barely a handful of models out there to fill such a rarefied list. So, zooming in on your one favourite is not an arduous task.
The Rolls Royce Dawn comes to mind, but it costs quite a bit beyond the million.
Old and new come together in this uber-luxurious cockpit, which has traditional dials alongside modern digital instrumentation.
An Aston Martin Vanquish is a consideration except that it has only two seats.
That leaves just the Mercedes-AMG S65 and the Bentley Continental GT Convertible (GTC), which we review here in its latest form.
With the imminent demise of Mercedes-Benz’s V12 engine, the W12 Conti GTC will be an even rarer beast.
The last two generations of Bentley Continental GTs looked almost identical, with styling that was pretty much cosmetically updated with those outer headlights becoming significantly smaller in the previous version.
Now take a good hard look at the photos on these pages of the latest Conti GTC.
Despite a strong similarity to previous models, the new GTC is all-new, and looking even more gorgeous and distinctively hunky.
The larger grille extends further down the bumper accentuating a lower stance when looking at the car head-on.
The front wheels now sit a little further forward and although 135mm may not sound like a lot, the reduced frontal overhang is immediately noticeable.
The tail-lights, however, may not receive universal praise. Although they emulate the oval exhaust outlets, their shape does not sync with the rest of the car’s macho and sporty appearance.
The GTC’s surprising nimbleness is down to systems such as torque vectoring and a clever 48-volt system that provides roll-resisting torque to the anti-roll bars.
With seven roof colours to choose from, the contrast with the body colour makes the GTC even tastier than the monotone GT Coupe.
A new mechanism, called Z-roof because of its articulated fold when it is mid-way to tucking away, completes the task in 19 seconds – even on the move – as long as speeds are below 50km/h.
Bentley has wisely stuck with a fabric roof instead of a heavier and more cumbersome folding hardtop that would likely have spoilt the car’s roof-up profile and encroached on both boot and rear passenger space.
Once the cabin is open, anyone walking around the car will be able to appreciate the splendid interior, rich in leather, wood and chrome. And oozing with style.
As usual with Bentleys, there is a variety of interior leather, wood veneer, metallic facia and carpet options to tick in the options list to specify one’s own favourite scheme.
And if you really have the dosh to spare, Bentley will oblige by taking the car offline for even more bespoke hand-crafted finishing of your particular choice.
The dashboard incorporates much of the latest high-tech features that seem to be replacing analogues everywhere.
Bentley has, however, successfully merged digital instrumentation and a high-definition touch screen with traditional dials.
A prism-shaped panel in the centre of the dashboard rotates horizontally on a spindle to offer the option of a 12.3 inch LED screen, or a row of three beautifully crafted round gauges that display outside air temperature, compass direction and stop-watch.
No comprises have been made to the Conti GT’s dynamic ethos of high-performance driving.
If you thought the outgoing car’s 590hp and 720Nm of torque was plenty, then the new specifications will blow your mind.
Bentley’s 6-litre W12 has been given some masterful engineering upgrades.
It now delivers a monumental 900Nm from 1350-4500rpm with some help from a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers. The maximum power of 626hp is produced at 6000rpm.
This new W12 also has the cylinder deactivation function that was introduced in the last of the second-generation GTCs.
Using electro-mechanical actuators, the system shuts down six of the cylinders when cruising at light loads for enhanced overall efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions.
The new lighter, more powerful GTC is staggeringly quick off the mark, claimed to need just 3.8 seconds to reach 100km/h from a standstill.
One of the reasons for its terrific acceleration is the new 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox, which is quicker than the torque converter transmission used by the previous Conti GTC.
The Conti GTC’s power is channelled through an electronically controlled centre differential.
Unlike the previous model’s fixed 40:60 torque-split, the new car is rear-wheel-drive by default and only begins to transfer torque to the front whenever rear wheel traction is approaching its limit.
THE CONTI GTC’S SPLENDID INTERIOR OOZES STYLE AND IS COVERED WITH VAST AMOUNTS OF WOOD, LEATHER AND CHROME.
Depending on the selected driving mode, up to 38% can be transferred to the front.
With 900Nm of torque, it is no surprise that the Conti GTC, despite weighing over 2.4 tonnes, picks up speed at a moment’s notice.
But even more impressive is its impeccable high-speed stability and nimbleness in corners at speed.
Through the winding mountain roads we drove on, the only limiting factor was its 1954mm width.
On some stretches there was really just one-and-a-half lanes, so extreme discretion had to be exercised in anticipation of on-coming trucks in particular.
Never was there any shortage of grip and with the driving mode in “Sport” and transmission in “Manual”, hustling the Bentley through sharp and fast corners was smooth and immensely enjoyable.
Dynamic agility is further enhanced by the computer controlled selective braking that simulates torque-vectoring and a 48-volt motor that provides roll-resisting torque to the anti-roll bars in order to keep the Bentley flat through corners.
New GTC is rear-wheel-drive by default and feels more agile when tackling winding mountain roads.
As for ride comfort, four-wheel air suspension and electronically modulated dampers maintain a high level of smooth progress over different road surfaces whatever the driving mode.
If you ever have the opportunity to drive a Bentley Continental GTC, never let it go.
It’s not just about the acceleration or handling, but the overall experience of grand touring in style – roof up or down – and feeling so special doing it.
And for those with a million dollars, this Bentley will score top marks with its uniquely rare blend of thrilling performance and exquisite luxury.
Besides, it might just be the last of the 12-cylinder luxury grand tourers.