If you want to make an entrance, the Bentley Continental GTC is the perfect car to do it in. This huge machine never fails to get stares wherever it goes – but not in a gaudy what is that kind of way. No, the Bentley garners appreciation from its onlookers, as it growls past in style.
Bentley is a brand steeped in sophistication and history, and a car you might associate with a more traditional styling. That’s not the case with the Continental GTC, because as much as this car still oozes the elegance you’d expect, it has some rather modern touches.
The Continental GT is one of the last models to use Bentley’s 6-litre W12 engine and is a prime candidate for the company’s first electric car – expected next year. Going from such a large engine to electric could seem like a huge jump, but having tried the Rolls Royce Spectre, which is also a two-door coupe, I knew it was possible. Before that though, I wanted to try this legend for myself to get an idea of where it will be coming from.
Price and availability
Prices for the Bentley Continental GTC – as with other models – aren’t listed on the Bentley website. However, they start from £204,460 or around $240,000. The Continental GTC Speed edition I tested with the W12 engine is priced at £241,300 and features the premium Naim audio, Touring specification and rotating display.
Features and design
Despite being a two-door convertible grand tourer, the Continental GTC is gigantic. Dimensions-wise, it’s nearly 5 metres long (4850mm) and 2 metres wide (1954mm excluding mirrors) – that’s not far off the length of the BMW iX and a little wider. The proportions though are perfect. A nice long bonnet, low swooping lines and a short rear end do give the car a sporty look, especially with that roof down.
Inside the car, the design is a blend of classic and modern. A traditional dash is accompanied by a digital instrument panel and a 12.3-inch central screen for infotainment. My favourite feature though is the central screen which rotates on a three-sided panel to either completely hide the screen (when the car is parked) or to show three traditional dials in its place. It’s very James Bond and feels completely suited to the Bentley.
The black leather interior in my test car was highlighted with a bright yellow that at first felt a little at odds with that traditional dash. However, I did like that it gave the car a more modern feel. The seats are some of the most comfortable I’ve sat in, more like a luxury executive seat than a sports bucket, with quilted leather that you just sink into and never want to leave.
The Continental GTC has four seats, though the room in the back is a little limited. The included wind deflector when attached actually covers the rear seats, turning them instead into a handy storage area. And that wind deflector does manage to stop the cabin from getting breezy with the top down.
The tech inside this car is interesting. The infotainment system feels on the older side, and the model I had didn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Automotive connection (however CarPlay is now standard on this model). Part of the touring specification though means that it does feature adaptive cruise control, lane assist, a night vision camera and a head-up display.
The adaptive cruise control is an excellent addition for a grand tourer and on this car it sits on a chunky stalk to the bottom left of the steering wheel. Uniquely here, you turn the end of the stalk to adjust the set distance of vehicles ahead, which is a nice touch and more satisfying than other distance controls I’ve seen. The head-up display is functional and when on full brightness can cope with polarized sunglasses, but the vision range is quite narrow.
Another pleasing point here is the sound. Delivered by the premium 2,200-watt Naim for Bentley audio system, it offers huge amounts of bass and a crisp delivery at any volume. A system more than lives up to the brand.
Said to be the world’s fastest four-seater soft-top, Bentley Continental GTC is pretty damn quick. That 6-litre W12 is twin-turbocharged and 635 mechanical horsepower and 900Nm of torque. All that means it will do 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 207mph. The Speed edition is actually tuned further to deliver 650bhp with a top speed of 208mph and a 3.5-second 0-60mph.
There are four drive modes in the GTC: Sport, Bentley, Comfort and Custom. The Comfort mode feels relaxed and luxurious for those long drives, while in Sport mode the car shifts more of the power to that rear axle, tightens that suspension and gives a more responsive gear ratio. Bentley mode is somewhere in between these two, offering a relaxed ride but a little more poke where it’s needed.
For most journeys, the Bentley mode is the perfect choice but I did enjoy switching it into Sport and listening to that engine. It’s easy to forget, even through the corners that this is nearly 3 tons of car. It’s obviously no lightweight but it handles beautifully, all while making you feel like a million dollars – or at least a quarter of a million.
With a convertible model, you often feel like you are getting some kind of compromise, but with the Bentley Continental GTC, you know that word isn’t in its vocabulary. The car is unashamedly big, powerful and luxurious.
It’s an incredible car to drive and one that I’d happily drive for the rest of my life – though I would be a little scared of parking it anywhere. I can see why that W12 engine is so special and it will be a shame to see it go, but the smaller 4-litre V8 offers much better fuel economy and almost as good performance. Would this car work in electric form? Though you would certainly miss that noise from the engine, everything else about this car feels perfect for a transition to an electric drive system. I can’t wait to try it when it does.