2011 Bentley Continental GTC

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Review: 2007 Bentley Continental GTC

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2014.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos

Bottom Line:

This one is hard to beat for luxury and performance.
Pros:
  • Luxurious
  • Awesome acceleration
  • All-wheel drive
Cons:
  • Low city fuel economy
  • Very heavy
  • Tight rear seat

Some folks don't feel any car is worth more than $25,000 or so. But if any auto is worth a $189,990 list price, it's the Bentley Continental GTC all-wheel -drive convertible, which has an intoxicating blend of style and performance.

The list price of my test 2007 Continental GTC actually was $207,135 because it had such extras as dazzling $4,090 "Canyon Orange" paint, along with a $3,700 gas guzzler tax and a $2,595 freight charge.

But what's a few thousand more dollars for a prestigious, hand-built car with a legendary nameplate that Bentley has called "the most distinctive new Bentley."

The GTC is certainly exclusive--—only approximately 2,000 will be sent to the United States in 2007, says Bentley Motors Inc. spokesman Dave Reuter.

The GTC is fairly new, so it's little-changed for 2008, getting such items as a newly designed Breitling clock and optional back-up camera and three-spoke sports steering wheel. The list price for the 2008 model edges up to $193,990.

Different Buyers
Who is drawn to buy the GTC? Bentley says it appeals to people who are tired of driving sports cars that call for too much effort (Ferraris? Lamborghinis?), those who want to move up from more standard convertibles (BMW? Mercedes?) and people who want to make a statement about what they drive, "yet still own a car they can use daily."

Bentley has a more colorful history than Rolls-Royce, which bought it in the early 1930s but largely kept it in the background. That was a shame because Bentley had a impressive racing background in the 1920s, not to mention a solid British heritage.

Volkswagen bought Bentley in 1998 because the British outfit was too small to compete in the modern competitive auto world, largely ruled by auto giants.

Volkswagen Assistance
Volkswagen has given Bentley, which still builds its cars in England, major financial and other support. That has let it develop outstanding models with all the features demanded by a larger group of wealthy ultra-luxury car buyers.

Bentley sold just 993 cars in 1993, but worldwide sales rose to 9,386 cars in 2006 because of alluring models and growing affluence in nations such as China and India, which are seeing some of the highest growth in the number of millionaires.

The GTC is derived from the Bentley Continental GT coupe, which arrived for 2004. That fast, glamorous car was the first major Bentley hit after Volkswagen bought the automaker.

The GTC looks different from the Continental GT, with its compact soft top and a rear deck designed to accommodate the lowered top. The GTC has a new rear suspension that lets the car's rear design be fairly compact while still providing space to stow the top.

Tight Back Seat
The Continental GTC is large, and its long, heavy doors are bothersome in tight spots. The back seat is best suited to children or short adults for brief trips. However, there's good room up front in multi-adjustable supportive seats.

The triple-layer top electrohydraulically lowers in 25 seconds at the push of a button and provides an extremely quiet interior when raised. My solidly built test car had no shakes or even soft rattles.

When the top is down, the handcrafted interior really stands out with its classic mix of leather hides and wood veneers. However, the dual front cupholders are positioned too far back on the console for an easy reach, and one must flip up two small armrests to get to them.

Sizzling Acceleration
The GTC is very heavy at 5,478 pounds, so one might assume it's just a great stylish medium-speed cruiser. Indeed, it would be right at home cruisiing top-down at moderate speeds along the French Riviera.

But the GTC's large, twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder engine gives it the sizzling acceleration of a sports car. The 48-valve engine with four camshafts and variable valve timing produces 552 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque at only 1,600 rpm for locomotive-like acceleration.

The 0-60 mph time is merely 4.8 seconds, and the GTC can hit 100 mph in 11.6 seconds. Top speed reportedly is 195 mph with the top up, or 190 with it lowered.

The car's 6-speed automatic transmission is responsive and has an easily used manual-shift feature.

Low City Fuel Economy
With all that weight and horsepower, though, the GTC only delivers an estimated 11 mpg in the city, although it provides a generally respectable 18 mpg on highways.

The car's weight is always felt when, for instance, changing freeway lanes quickly or snaking around curves. But it doesn't prevent the GTC from having good handling and traction. An advanced adjustable air suspension and the all-wheel-drive system help here.

The steering is precise, with good road feel, and the ride is on the firm side, but supple. The brake pedal has a progressive action and controls huge disc brakes that easily slow the GTC from high speeds.

Safety Features
Safety features include an advanced rollover protection system beneath the rear headrests. Two reinforced steel hoops, which work with a strong windshield frame, are deployed n a split second if a computer senses the car is about to roll during an accident.

The trunk has a rather high opening. It doesn't look especially roomy, but Bentley says it can hold two golf bags and a good amount of luggage. What appears to be a folded-up center rear armrest is a removable leather-covered seat section that hides an access area that lets skis be passed from the trunk.

The trunk has a power lid activated by the key fob and is called the "boot," in true British fashion. To lower it automatically, one presses a "boot close" button on the interior of the lid.

I was very protective of the GTC, parking it far from potential door-bangers in parking lots, but suspect that some owners have a more casual, worry-free attitude towards it. The GTC is just a car, after all, isn't it? Or is it?

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BB01 - 9/20/2014 9:11:08 AM