2012 Bentley Continental GTC Road Test Review

Brian Armstead - CAP staff
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I generally don't get excited about convertibles in November. My personal Mercedes-Benz drop top is in mothballs now, ready for the first burst of spring next year. Such is not the case with the subject of this review - as the car tested is a true all weather supercar - the 2012 Bentley Continental GTC. With all-wheel drive, don't worry about Mother Nature and her snowstorms. With an innovative neck-level heating system, you can enjoy wide-open motoring on all but the coldest days. With 567 horsepower and a 314 km/h (195 mph) top speed, have no fear of pretty much anything on the road, including those who may challenge your authority at stoplights, unaware that the GTC sprints to 100 kilometers per hour in a handy 4.6 seconds.

Handcrafted. Silent. Powerful. Gorgeous. Pick your attribute and enjoy the Bentley experience.

The Croatian Riviera served as the backdrop for my test drive of the GTC, and the twisty roads were no challenge for this 5,500 pound (2,495 kilo) Ginsu Knife. Yes, it carved up the roads like Mom carving Thanksgiving turkey, all while I was surrounded by a truly sumptuous interior.

Before we landed in Croatia, we toured the Bentley factory in Crewe, United Kingdom. There, we saw the magic that is Bentley. This legendary factory is where Olde World craftsmanship melds with high tech to build superior cars. Consider the wood veneers in a Bentley. They're sourced from special walnut trees and then cut, lacquered and polished to an art form. Also inside, everything you see that looks like metal is metal, as there is no chrome plated plastic in any Bentley. The leather hides are specially matched and dyed to the colour of your choice. The leather and wood steering wheel is hand stitched by a Bentley specialist. The pace at the factory is slower than that of a large production factory of course, but don't think for a minute it's not state-of-the-art. The car is largely hand assembled, but technology and Bentley innovation have refined this time-honoured British tradition. Yes, I know the German Volkswagen Group now owns Bentley, but they have wisely let the "crew" at Crewe do their thing. And they do it well.

For 2012, Bentley has instilled the GTC with a host of improvements over the previous model. Take the front fenders or "wings." They're now created under a special process called "Super Forming" that eliminates the seams and welds of traditional fenders. Super Forming heats the aluminum to 500 degrees Celsius, and the panels are then shaped with air pressure. The look recreates the panel-beaten fenders of fully hand-built Bentleys of years gone by. Twenty-inch wheels now fill the wheel wells, with twenty-one inchers available. The interior now features more rear legroom and innovative storage compartments. Dynamic Route Guidance and Google Maps highlight a 30GB infotainment system. All interior controls are wonderfully easy to use, with no silly dials to rotate and endless menus to decipher to get where you need to go. To adjust the airflow from the ventilation system, simply pull or push the classic "Organ Stop" knobs on the dash.

To better connect you to the road, the GTC chassis features a wider track front and rear, a retuned air suspension and a 40/60 (front/rear) torque bias for the all-wheel drive system; previous GTCs had a 50/50 split. The new configuration gives the GTC driver the ability to manage the car's line through the go pedal.

When it's time to drop the gorgeous seven-bow, three-layer top, you can do so in just 25 seconds up to a speed of 40 km/h. Remember the neck warmer system I spoke of earlier? It works like a charm, increasing the number of top down days you can enjoy in chilly climes. And should you roll your Bentley in an accident, a pair of standard roll hoops fire upward to keep you safe.

It's easy to think an expensive car should be perfect. Many are not and can break the piggy bank in record fashion. There are no faults with this 12 cylinder, convertible masterpiece. Even the price is a bargain. At $265,200 base (and pretty much fully loaded), try and find a handcrafted car with this performance and reliability. You won't.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Convertible, Bentley, 2012, Continental GTC, $99,999+,

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