Taking cues from its GT coupe sibling launched in 2010, the new Bentley Continental GTC builds on the highly successful foundation of the previous cabriolet, which premiered in 2006. Bentley's design and engineering teams have improved virtually every aspect of the iconic convertible with an uncompromising focus on quality.
While the first Bentley Continental GTC was elegant and understated, the sharper radii and assertive stance of the new model delivers a more contemporary and muscular presence. Advanced manufacturing techniques produce aluminium front wings without the need for seams or welds creating the look and feel of a coachbuilt car. Twenty-inch wheels are now standard with three styles of 21-inch wheel, a first for GTC, available as an option, reinforcing the distinctive, sporting stance of the new Bentley.
The four-seater luxury convertible features a new, even more spacious and sumptuous hand-crafted cabin, with soft-touch leather hides, an extensive range of wood veneers, cool-touch metals and deep-pile carpets. There are 17 standard soft-touch leather hide colours with six colour split combinations, complemented by a range of seven veneers, all produced by Bentley's talented craftsmen and women.
The GTC's renowned coupe-like refinement is also enhanced. The tailored, multi-layered fabric hood is complemented by acoustic glass and under-body panels, for optimum noise isolation.
Superb everyday practicality for a luxury convertible was a hallmark of the original GTC and much valued by its customers. The cabin of the new GTC is now even more practical, with additional rear legroom, new storage solutions and innovative features such as touch-screen infotainment, automatic seat-belt presenters and a Bentley-designed Neck Warmer for comfortable roof-down motoring whatever the temperature.
A wider track, front and rear, sharper steering and retuned suspension provide a more exhilarating and class-leading drive. Bentley's advanced all-wheel drive system features a new 40:60 rear torque bias (compared with 50:50 of the original GTC) minimising understeer during hard cornering and allowing the spirited driver to manage the car's line and balance via precise throttle control.
This compelling dynamic package is combined with a more powerful 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged W12 engine as well as a new QuickShift transmission enabling faster gear changes than ever before. Power output is raised from 560PS to 575PS (567bhp/423kW) and the famed Bentley 'wave of torque' has been increased by a further 50Nm to 700Nm (516lb ft).
Sculpted exterior design
The challenge for the creative team, under the leadership of Director of Design Dirk van Braeckel, was to take an icon of automotive art and improve it.
Inevitably inspiration has come from the second-generation Continental GT Coupe, unveiled to universal acclaim almost a year ago. Many of the GT's signature styling cues have been woven into the new Continental GTC, and the result is a progressive, sculpted and dynamic exterior that re-interprets the family heritage - dating back to the original 1950s R-Type Continental - in a stunning new four-seat convertible body.
While the first Bentley Continental GTC was elegant and understated, the inspired new design has made its replacement more modern and contemporary. It's an evolution of the classic original, showcasing a cleaner and crisper look, sharper and more focused design radii, and a more muscular, sporty and confident road presence.
The sensuous lines are familiar but the overall package is significantly revised. The new model has a wider track, is slightly longer and has a higher waistline. The latter tapers gradually upwards towards the rear of the car and creates a more shallow window graphic and dynamic stance.
The classic Bentley matrix radiator grille is framed by a striking new headlight design, in traditional four-lamp format, with exquisite jewel-like detailing including eye-catching, LED daytime-running lamps.
The car's muscular front wings are created through an advanced manufacturing process called aluminium Superforming. Heating the aluminium to nearly 500 degrees Celsius, before cleverly shaping it with air pressure, produces uniquely sculpted body panels. And by using a single sheet of aluminium no seams or welds are required. The result is an improved coachbuilt design aesthetic with a reduced number of shut lines.
Further down the flanks, the purposeful haunches echo those of the flagship Bentley Mulsanne. The comparison continues into the rear of the car where the powerful 'double horse-shoe' motif is integrated into the inset wrap-around rear lamps. Below, the flared elliptical exhaust tailpipes reinforce the new car's high performance credentials.
The new composite bootlid is 'transparent' to media and GPS signals, allowing the GTC's antennae to be concealed within its structure. It produces a clean and unbroken exterior surface that is not possible on many other convertibles.
The seven-bow, three-layer fabric roof is available in eight complementary colours. Folding and rising in just 25 seconds, its smooth and graceful operation is peerless and works at road speeds of up to 20mph (32km/h). This same, ultra-strong roof design featured on Juha Kankkunen's Ice Speed Record Bentley Supersports Convertible which set a new world best of 205.48mph (330.695 km/h) and operated perfectly at temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius.
No latching points are visible where the roof meets the tonneau cover, ensuring the GTC's clean lines are unbroken. Standard features include a heated glass rear window and reading light in the liner and when the roof is down, the heating/ventilation system automatically adjusts air distribution and volume accordingly.
For the first time, stunning new 20-inch wheels are standard on the new Bentley Continental GTC with 21-inch wheels available as an option. For customers who want to stand out from the crowd, the wheels are available in four styles and a choice of finishes. Tyre specifications are Pirelli P Zero 275/40 ZR20 and 275/35 ZR21 respectively, uniquely engineered for the new GTC. Bentley engineers have worked hard with Pirelli to ensure there is no negative impact on ride comfort for customers choosing 21-inch wheels.
Two new exterior paint colours have joined the already extensive palette. 'Hallmark' brings a new energy to the range, a masculine tinted silver with a neutral tone symbolising the strength of metal. 'Breeze' features a vibrant sparkle finish over a subtle metallic silver tone which hints at an atmospheric green.
The new Bentley Continental GTC is unmistakable. It is a contemporary and sculpted supercar with the prestige feel and authentic quality of a true coachbuilt convertible. The stunning exterior design unquestionably enhances the overall aesthetic but, thanks to exhaustive wind tunnel analysis, also improves aerodynamic performance.
A luxurious, practical hand-crafted cabin
The objective of the styling team, led by Robin Page, Head of Interior Design, was to create a more dynamic and contemporary cabin with even greater levels of comfort, quality and craftsmanship, raising the standard in luxury convertible interior design.
A key element of the design brief was to ensure that the style of the interior and exterior are in complete harmony when the roof is stowed. Equally important, the new cabin design had to flow seamlessly from front to rear.
It begins at the instrument panel and dashboard, which subtly echo the flying wings of the Bentley motif. The new door and quarter panel graphic provides a dynamic, unbroken flow along the complete length of the cabin, while the unparalleled craftsmanship extends to the hand-stitched, leather hide tonneau cover at the rear.
Sumptuous hand-crafted materials and the highest levels of attention to detail combine effortlessly to provide an unrivalled experience of comfort and quality. There is now a choice of 17 standard soft-touch leather hide colours with six colour split combinations, complemented by a range of seven veneers, all handcrafted in Bentley's unique workshops at its factory in Crewe, England.
Key to the creative process was a desire to set some new benchmarks when it comes to the levels of everyday practicality customers should expect from a luxury supercar convertible. That meant generating a lighter aesthetic to the interior by removing bulk where it wasn't needed, creating more usable space for the occupants.
It was a challenge which the styling team relished. For example, the 'Cobra style' front seats with integrated head rests are each 25mm slimmer than those in the previous Continental GTC, creating more knee-room for rear passengers. Front seat occupants also get more knee space thanks to the use of concave 'scalloping' on the underside of the dashboard.
Seat comfort and support is improved through the use of new multi-layer foams and, available in the GTC for the first time, an optional front seat ventilation system paired with a revised 10-cell pneumatic massage function provides a firmer and more invigorating experience.
Storage for keys and mobile phones is improved thanks to a simplified centre console design with a practical new cubby hole at its base. The cupholder is now more user-friendly, relocated from inside the central arm rest to an open position adjacent to the driver's hip.
Electrically operated seatbelt presenters make buckling-up effortless for front occupants. Customers may also specify as an option an exquisitely designed, folding, removable case, ideal for glasses or keys. Crafted from veneers and hides to match the interior, it also features inlaid Bentley wing motifs.
Also new to the Bentley Continental GTC's front seats is an innovative 'Neck Warmer' air-flow system with three power settings. It is designed to provide additional comfort while driving with the roof down and is controlled by a switch in the seat valance.
One new veneer and one new hide colour have been added to the Bentley Continental GTC range. The former, Tamo Ash, is a striking blonde veneer sourced from Asia, while Breeze complements the new exterior shade of the same name.
"With so many of our GTC customers enjoying the opportunity to drive the car everyday we focused our efforts on improving the already strong levels of usability and comfort. These practical advances were matched by a desire to make the cabin even more glamorous and head-turning." Dr Ulrich Eichhorn, Member of Board for Engineering, Bentley Motors
The new GTC features one of the most advanced in-car infotainment systems on sale today. Backed by a 30GB on-board hard drive, the eight-inch screen displays the car's audio, telephone, ride and comfort functionality. The system uses a combination of touch-screen controls and classic Bentley knurled rotary switches to offer instant usability and crystal-clear feedback.
The state-of-the-art navigation system with seven-digit postcode entry and rich map imagery uses both an in-car hard-disc drive and DVD player to access route data. It features dynamic navigation to create a fuss-free journey and can find destinations using geo-tagged photos from an SD memory card. It is also Google Maps-compatible in many markets.
The new GTC also provides the ultimate in in-car audio. An eight-speaker flat-panel sound system is offered as standard employing the latest Balanced Mode Radiator technology, providing exceptional clarity over a wide frequency range.
The Naim for Bentley premium audio system features 10 speakers and revolutionary Dirac Dimensionsâ„¢ digital signal processing. An industry-first for Bentley, it creates a virtual 'sound field' independent of speaker layout for concert hall-quality sound reproduction for all seating positions.
The GTC also benefits from telephone and music player connectivity, digital television (where available) and DVD movie playback. Music can be played and controlled directly from an iPodÂ®as well as a six-disc CD changer, SD card reader or directly from the car's hard drive, which can store up to 15GB of music.
Coupe-like refinement and comfort
The new GTC is engineered to provide unrivalled levels of interior quietness. Suppression of wind and road noise is improved through the application of new glass interlayers, underbody sheets and wheel-arch liners, all acoustically tuned. Every door and window rubber seal is re-engineered to improve its performance.
A key goal in designing the new interior was to improve the tactile qualities of the materials. The innovative answer was to improve the substrates underneath; in short, to raise the quality of what you don't see to raise the quality of what you do see. New leathers have also been introduced which are as luxurious as ever, but offer better performance on touch and, crucially, smell. The result is sensuous soft-touch materials throughout and a supreme passenger experience.
"Creating complex exterior and interior shapes and then bringing them all together with world-class fit and finish is where Bentley excels. What drives my team is the quality of the execution - getting the smallest panel gaps and sharpest lines to fit perfectly and making sure they last the lifetime of the car." Peter Guest, Head of Department, Body & Trim, Bentley Motors
More powerful 6.0 litre W12 delivering exhilarating performance
For customers seeking a 'use-every-day' supercar convertible with supreme levels of dynamic performance, power and refinement, there is no comparison to the all-new Bentley Continental GTC.
Still beating at the heart of the GTC is the company's acclaimed 6.0-litre W12 twin-turbo petrol engine, uprated in output from 560PS in the previous generation model to 575PS (567bhp/423kW). Torque is up 50Nm to 700Nm (516lb ft). The W12 is the most compact and technologically advanced 12-cylinder engine in the world. Four camshafts and 48 valves allow the engine to breathe effortlessly and help generate the distinctive Bentley wave of torque.
The permanent all-wheel drive system now features the sublime six-speed QuickShift transmission from the Continental Supersports which halves shift times to just 200 milliseconds. The revised gearbox can also deliver double-downshifts and improves acceleration across the entire gear range. The result is a 0-60mph time of 4.5 seconds (0-100 km/h in 4.8s) and a top speed of 195mph (314 km/h).
Also developed from the Supersports is the performance-oriented 40:60 rear torque bias for the all-wheel drive system instead of the 50:50 set-up of the original Bentley Continental GTC. This minimises understeer during hard cornering, allowing the experienced driver to control the car's line and balance via precise throttle inputs.
The W12 engine is capable of running on petrol (gasoline), E85 bioethanol or any mix of the two - all from a single tank. This FlexFuel technology is capable of delivering potential CO2 reductions of up to 70 percent on a 'well-to-wheel' basis - the measurement of CO2 released by a fuel from its production (well) through to its combustion or deployment (wheel).
To ensure that the power and torque generated remain constant (whatever the fuel) an advanced Fuel Quality Sensor continuously monitors the ratio of the fuels used. It then guides the Engine Control Unit to adjust the engine's timing. This provides the seamless power delivery for which Bentley engines are renowned, and ensures there is no compromise on performance when using fuels that create lower CO2 emissions.
More dynamic and engaging driving experience
A potent and dynamic driving experience is a must on any Bentley, but the unique architecture of a convertible raises additional challenges.
The new GTC convertible body is the stiffest in the world (22,500 Nm/Â°-static) providing a firm foundation for the precise control of suspension components as well minimising scuttle shake, benefitting refinement. This is achieved by reinforced 'A' posts and sills, and twin underbody cruciforms that connect the front and rear subframes.
The increased track width, coupled with new high-stiffness aluminium cast-forged suspension uprights, means a marked improvement in handling response and stability. The revised track necessitated wholesale revisions to the steering, and it's been completely retuned to offer a quicker and crisper turn-in. The Electronic Stability Control System is also revised to be less interventive, offering enthusiastic drivers an exhilarating driving experience.
All four Continuous Damping Control (CDC) modes are upgraded to utilise the benefits of new damper hydraulics. The change allows greater low speed suppleness for rolling comfort but increased control for dynamic driving and higher speed stability.
The new GTC also offers an uncompromising attitude to safety with five airbags, including a driver's kneebag, as standard and a Roll Over Protection System (ROPS) installed beneath the rear headrests. If the car's onboard computer senses that the car is about to roll during an accident, two reinforced steel hoops are deployed in a split second, thereby working in conjunction with the exceptionally strong windshield frame to protect passengers in the front and rear.