What's New for 2011
The 2011 Bentley Continental GTC carries over pretty much unchanged. A limited-edition variant called the 80-11 replaces the Series 51 option.
It's difficult to argue that the Bentley Continental GTC is anything but a solid choice among ultra-luxury convertibles. But with the likelihood of an improved version on the horizon, the decision to purchase the current 2011 model gets complicated. The 2012 Continental GT coupe is set to receive a slight styling refresh, sharper handling, more rear seat space and updated electronics. Considering this, the 2011 GTC might be akin to waiting in line for last year's iPhone.
If you absolutely must have a Continental GTC now, you can find comfort in the fact that you're still getting an exclusive and opulent form of open-air motoring. For the $200,000-plus price tag, you'll be surrounded by supple leathers, rich wood trim and premium metal accents. And moving all of this finery around is a 6.0-liter 12-cylinder that produces an inspiring 552 horsepower.
But you'll also be saddled with a horse that is ready to be put out to pasture, considering that the 2011 Bentley Continental GTC soon will be "last year's" model. Yet even if "next year's" will be the one to get, it's a still a good idea to check out the Continental GTC's few competitors. The Aston Martin DB9 and DBS Volante convertibles book-end the Conti in terms of price, and both breathe quite a bit of life into this segment with sportier handling and styling.
The Maserati GranTurismo Convertible is one of the most attractive cars on the market and won't set you back quite as much, either. For those less interested in prestige (but still a taste of English luxury), the Jaguar XKR is a stirring ride at half the price of the GTC. All are superb automobiles, but remember that if you've got your heart set on a Bentley, it's a probably a good idea to wait for next year's model.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Bentley Continental GTC is a premium luxury convertible offered in a single, well-appointed trim level. Standard features include painted 19-inch forged-aluminum wheels, a power-folding soft top, an electronically adjustable air suspension, bi-xenon headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, a full leather interior with a choice of primary and secondary hides in 17 colors, burl walnut trim, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear-seat controls, 10-way power heated front seats with memory functions and power lumbar, Bluetooth, a navigation system and a 12-speaker stereo with satellite radio and a glovebox-mounted six-CD changer.
Options include carbon-ceramic brakes (only available with the optional 20-inch wheels), a power-opening and -closing trunk, adaptive cruise control, a heated steering wheel, an 1,100-watt 13-speaker Naim sound system with two subwoofers, an iPod interface, massaging front seats, four upgraded interior veneers and a rearview camera. There are also a variety of special-order options known as the Mulliner Driving Specification that range from more exclusive veneers and lamb's-wool carpeting to diamond-quilted seating surfaces and specialized exterior paint colors.
New for 2011 is the 80-11 Edition package of options. This grouping is limited to only 80 examples and adds exclusive cosmetic enhancements that include 20-inch wheels, a dark gray metallic soft top, a Mulliner alloy fuel cap, a three-spoke steering wheel, alloy pedals, package-specific interior trim materials and minor exterior and interior badging.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the Bentley Continental GTC is a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter engine with its 12 cylinders arranged in the Volkswagen Group's unique "W" formation. This W12 power plant produces an impressive 552 hp and 479 pound-feet of torque. Even more noteworthy is that all of this torque is on tap at just 1,600 rpm. A six-speed automatic with steering-column-mounted paddle shifters is the only transmission available, and it sends power to all four wheels.
Despite its hefty 5,478-pound curb weight, the Continental GTC hustles from zero to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds, according to Bentley. Top speed is reported to be a breathtaking 195 mph. As expected, fuel economy is decidedly low, registering an EPA-estimated 11 mpg city/18 highway and 13 combined.
Standard safety features for the 2011 Continental GTC include stability control, traction control, front-seat side airbags and antilock disc brakes with brake assist. Also included is a rollover protection system that automatically deploys from behind the rear seats.
Interior Design and Special Features
Even with the lofty expectations that come with any Bentley, the Continental GTC's interior does not disappoint. Metal accents, rich wood trim and soft leather are beyond reproach, with the added old-world charm of push-pull vent controls, a Breitling timepiece, and metal switches and levers. Regrettably, the infotainment and navigation system is old-world as well, since Bentley hasn't changed it since the Continental GTC's 2004 introduction, and its age shows in the undersized display screen and nonintuitive interface. Mercifully, the optional iPod interface is easier to use.
Front passengers will undoubtedly be pleased with their leather-swaddled thrones, but the backseat is a different story. There's room for two shorter passengers, but only if those in front are in a generous mood. The 9.2-cubic-foot capacity of the trunk isn't impressive given the GTC's outsized proportions, but it's enough to accommodate a standard golf bag with the woods removed.
Despite the 2011 Continental GTC's portly weight and plus-sized dimensions, it is surprisingly well mannered in terms of performance. Acceleration is authoritative and handling is decent, though hardly sporting. In all likelihood, GTC buyers are more interested in its smooth ride and road presence, and in these respects, the drop-top Bentley should delight. Lower the beautifully lined soft top, erect the folding wind deflector over the backseat, raise the windows and marvel at how little noise and air infiltrate the Bentley's cabin. At 75 mph, you'll find your hair mussed no more than if the air-conditioning were turned to max.