The Bentley Continental GTC was revitalised last year – but there was a key element missing: it wasn't available with the new, cheaper, twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine and eight-speed gearbox that we knew was in development.
This all-new unit, which the company co-developed with Audi, makes the Bentley cheaper to buy and own. It uses about 40% less fuel than the existing W12, aided by a clever system that shuts down half of the cylinders when you’re driving gently.
What’s it like to drive? The new GTC V8 makes more financial sense than the W12, and makes more sense on the road, too.
This new engine is a cracker. It’s supremely flexible, free-revving, docile when you want it to be and ferocious when you’re in the mood. Okay, this car doesn’t sprint away from the lights with quite the same ferocity as the 12-cylinder model, and it has a less polished roar, but it’s superior in all other respects.
The new eight-speed gearbox is a mighty match for it too, because it never fails to be in the right ratio for the job. As in the W12, you can leave it in ‘D’, or change gear yourself with steering column-mounted paddles.
What’s more, the new V8 is lighter, which you really notice. Sure, the GTC still feels like a hefty beast – it remains more cruiser than sportscar – but there’s an extra agility and sharpness to it now.
There are also the usual attributes of the GTC. All the revisions made last year still impress, making it one of the world’s great open-top cars.
What’s it like inside? The cabin is identical to that of the W12 and, since the revisions last year, that means it’s pretty impressive. Craftsmanship has always been exemplary and now it’s matched with a good deal more functionality, especially with the look, feel and usability of the infotainment system.
Up front, the GTC is wonderfully comfortable and any driver should be able to achieve a commanding driving position. Space in the rear seats is not quite as generous as in the coupe, and with the electrically operated roof in place visibility for rear seat passengers and the driver is not that special.
Likewise, the boot is good enough for only a weekend’s worth of luggage. If you have the need for any more, forget it.
Should I buy one? Bentley claims that a certain type of customer will still want the W12 rather than the V8. That maybe the case, but not to buy the V8 version would be to miss out on the best incarnation. It would be a financial folly, too.
The changes made to the GTC already made it one of the world’s finest open-tops. With this new twin-turbo V8 it’s now even better.
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