The Bentley Continental recently received a total redesign, both for the popular Continental GT coupe model and the topless Continental GTC variant. The drop-top benefits from more power, better fuel economy, updated styling and a new base engine.
Slotting Bentley 's W12-powered Continental range, the new 4.0-liter V8 model promises much improved fuel economy while retaining most of the 12-cylinder's power. Bentley says the new eight-cylinder is good for 500 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque, falling just short of the W12's 567 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque.
Continental models equipped with the new V8 are capable of 4.6-second zero-to-60 runs and a top speed in excess of 180mph. Fuel economy comes in at 14 city, 24 highway miles per gallon.
For the Bentley traditionalists in the world, the infamous W12 returns boasting 6.0-liters, twin turbochargers and a boost to 567 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque - the same as in the GT coupe. Fuel economy comes in at 11 city, 19 highway mpg.
Power is sent to all four wheels via a six-speed QuickShift automatic transmission capable of delivering gear-skipping double downshifts for improved response. Zero-to-60 sprints are handled in 4.5 seconds (just .1 seconds slower than the GT coupe), while 100 mph comes in 10.8 seconds. Top speed is limited to 195 mph.
Changes for the latest model include the upgrade to 20-inch wheels as standard, with three styles of 21-inch wheels - a first for GTC - available as options.
Inside, this powerful luxury convertible features a new hand-crafted cabin that boasts more space and even higher grade materials and craftsmanship that the outgoing model. Examples of the exquisite opulence include soft-touch leather hides, an extensive range of wood veneers depending on the buyer's personal taste, cool-touch metals and deep-pile carpets - all expected in a luxury vehicle of this caliber.
But while the aforementioned materials may sound relatively standard fair for a luxury vehicle, perhaps the realization that there are 17 standard soft-touch leather hide colors with six color split combinations, which are then complemented by a choice of one of seven veneers - each produced by Bentley's own craftsmen and women - would provide a bit more perspective.
New front and rear seats improve comfort, Bentley says, while a touchscreen-operated 30GB infotainment system brings advanced satellite navigation with dynamic route guidance, seven-digit postcode entry and Google Map compatibility for certain North American, Asian and European markets.
Now, when buying a Bentley one obviously expects a certain level of suppleness to the vehicle's ride, along with matching silence and isolation from the road. Despite those challenges, Bentley has continued to forgo the use of a heavier, more complex folding hard-top roof and continues to use a tried and true soft-top design. To help offset whatever noise may be introduced through the soft-top, Bentley utilized a multi-layered fabric hood, acoustic glass and under-body panels to help reduce noise where possible.
The Continental GTC's all-wheel-drive system has also been revised, gaining the system found on the GT. Power is distributed through a wider track width and now splits 40 percent of the power to the front wheels and 60 percent to the rear to reduce understeer.
Outside, the Continental GT gains new jeweled headlamps with LED running lights, a revised front grille and some tweaking to the outgoing car's bodylines. The body is heavily revised from before despite a similar appearance.
The audio systems feature the latest wide frequency Balance Mode Radiator speakers as standard, as well as Dirac Dimensions DSP for exceptional sound reproduction (Naim for Bentley premium audio).
In terms of price, image and sheer luxuriousness, the Continental GTC is a bit unique - but don't be surprised to see the Audi R8 V10 Spyder, BMW 6-Series Convertible or one of many Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet models.