New-generation Continental GTC promises coupé performance – and a tweed roof
The Bentley Continental GT Convertible is just 0.1sec slower to 60mph from a standing start than its coupé sibling, despite weighing an extra 160kg.
The new drop-top features a 626bhp 6.0-litre W12 engine and, along with that impressive 3.7sec 0-60mph time, delivers a top speed of 207mph – the same as the coupé version. That’s despite the new Z-fold roof mechanism contributing to a hefty weight of 2414kg. The roof, along with some rear styling features, are the only major changes from the coupé, with the two cars nearly identical mechanically.
Bentley says the GT Convertible’s Z-fold roof – able to retract in 19sec at speeds of up to 30mph – offers a “sportier appearance” and a three-decibel noise reduction compared with its predecessor. Seven different fabric roofs are available, including a tweed finish for the first time.
While the front of the GT Convertible is the same as its hard-top sibling, the rear has some design tweaks. The absence of the retracting spoiler on the convertible means the Gurney spoiler is slightly larger to help aerodynamics. For the same reason, the corners above the rear lights are different, with a wider lip than the coupé and more concave surfaces, all of which contribute to downforce.
Inside, the GT Convertible gets the same interior as the coupé, including a digital instrument panel and rotating display with a 12.3in touchscreen. The car has heated seats and steering wheel as before, plus wider neck-warmers and new heated armrests.
The superb V8 engine breaths new life into the Bentley Continental GTC, without completely changing the formula established back in 2006
Rear leg room is identical to the coupé, while boot space is 235 litres, 123 litres fewer than the hard-top and 23 litres fewer than the previous GT convertible.
The car features a body-in-white structure that is stiffer and lighter than its predecessor, with a 5% improvement in torsional rigidity and a 20% reduction in structural weight.
As with the coupé, it gets a 48V electric active roll control system, active all-wheel-drive system and a torque-vectoring-by-brake system. There are four driving modes: Sport, Comfort, Bentley and Custom.
Britain is an important market for the GT Convertible: the previous-generation GT accounted for 43% of Bentley’s overall UK sales, 5% more than global figures.
Pricing of the car has yet to be confirmed, but an increase of around 10% over the £156,200 coupé is expected.
There are two technology packs available at launch: City Specification, which includes traffic-sign recognition and city braking systems; and Touring Specification, including adaptive cruise control, a head-up display and pre-sense braking. V8 versions of both the coupé and convertible are due next year.
Q&A with JP Gregory, Head of Exterior Design:
Continental GT coupé or convertible?
“As a car enthusiast, traditionally I’d say I was a coupé guy, but honestly, with my own money I would buy the Convertible. When you think what the car is about, it’s grand touring. With the roof down this is the Bentley experience ramped up to 11.”
What was the biggest challenge on this car?
“On a convertible, you want the tonneau line [the line at the back of the roof packaging] to be as smooth and flowing as possible. With the roof down, the car has this elegance and that is largely set up by the smooth tonneau. When you think of other convertibles, they often have a break at the back of the door and that’s normally because they’ve had compromises around the roof packages and not been able to get that flow. That was almost the biggest challenge for us.”
What’s your favourite detail on the car?
“The cut-crystal lights: it wasn’t easy and it’s not an interpretation of technology that anyone has done before. We investigated it with the EXP 10 Speed 6 [concept]. Quite often, concept cars are a little bit superfluous but we made sure that when we were developing Speed 6, all of the learnings could, in principle, be applied to production.”