What's New for 2013
The 2013 Bentley Continental GTC returns with slightly refreshed bodywork, more dynamic handling, improved comfort, additional interior storage and contemporary electronics. Power from the W12 engine increases slightly and a new V8 engine debuts along with updated transmissions.
Imagine for a moment that you're filthy rich and desire a convertible touring car with the same presence on the road as your investment portfolio has on paper. The list of candidates is short, but quite distinguished.
The 2013 Bentley Continental GTC, the convertible version of the powerful and opulent Continental GT coupe, would likely top that list. As with the GT, the convertible GTC follows Bentley's "too much is almost enough" ethos. But this year, the notion of "less is more" works into the luxury lexicon with the introduction of a smaller V8 engine, offering an alternative to the massive W12 power plant.
Downsizing to a smaller twin-turbo V8 may sound like a penalty, but we think it might very well be the better engine. With 500 horsepower, there's no lack of grunt under the hood. The W12 makes 67 hp more, but it's unlikely anyone will miss them. The V8 and a new eight-speed automatic transmission (the W12 stays with the previous six-speed) combine for better fuel economy than the W12, and the V8 also offers improved throttle response from smaller, quicker-spooling turbos.
No matter which engine you choose, the expected levels of opulence and craftsmanship remain blissfully intact, from the GTC's elegant design to its impeccable materials and contemporary electronics. Unfortunately, most of the drawbacks -- miniscule rear seats and heavy curb weight among them -- also remain. The V8 manages to feel a bit lighter, though.
With these faults in mind, some competitors are worth consideration. The Aston Martin DB9 Volante handles better, while the Maserati GranTurismo convertible still turns heads with its sexy styling. Overall, the 2013 Bentley Continental GTC is still the front-runner, and the new V8 proves that less can indeed be more.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Bentley Continental GTC convertible is offered in one very well-appointed trim level. Standard features include 20-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights, LED running lights, a concealed rear spoiler, automatic wipers, heated and power-folding mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, heated 14-way power front seats with memory functions, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, premium leather upholstery, wood veneer trim and Bluetooth. The standard eight-speaker audio system includes a CD player, satellite radio, 15GB of music storage and an iPod interface. A navigation system with Google Maps compatibility and real-time traffic is also included. Opting for the W12 also adds a wind deflector, trunk pass-through for skis, a power trunk lid and twin front armrests.
The optional Elegant Specification package adds 21-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, a premium Naim sound system, ventilated front seats (with massage and neck warming) and a valet key. A privacy phone handset in the center armrest is included for the W12 only. Most of these items are also available as stand-alone options, as are carbon-ceramic brake rotors, a jewel fuel filler cap, a veneer-matched removable case to hold personal effects, a wood-trimmed steering wheel, alloy pedals and a six-CD/DVD changer.
As with all Bentleys, buyers can choose from a dizzying array of exterior and interior colors, wheels, embroidery, stitching, piping and wood or metallic trim. The truly discerning buyer can also specify custom colors -- for a price, of course.
Powertrains and Performance
For 2013, the Bentley Continental GTC is available with a new 4.0-liter V8 that produces 500 hp and 487 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. All-wheel drive is standard. Bentley estimates a 0-60-mph time of only 4.7 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 14 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 17 mpg in combined driving.
A twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine carries over, producing 567 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque (up from the previous GTC's 552 hp and 479 lb-ft). A six-speed automatic transmission is the only available gearbox and utilizes the same all-wheel-drive system as the V8. Bentley estimates 0-60-mph acceleration at 4.5 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 11/19/14 mpg.
The 2013 Bentley Continental GTC comes standard with stability control, traction control, antilock brakes with brake assist, side airbags for all seats and driver knee airbags. Also included is a rollover protection system that automatically deploys from behind the rear seats.
Interior Design and Special Features
As with any Bentley, the Continental GTC's cabin features only the finest available materials. From supple leather that covers most surfaces to the rich wood veneers crafted in Bentley's dedicated hand-crafted woodworking shop, the interior is an homage to old-world craftsmanship that truly defines "world class."
High-tech convenience contrasts with old-world charm, however, keeping the Continental GTC competitive with its contemporaries. The infotainment touchscreen interface is clear and its operation intuitive, and the instrument panel features a sharp digital display flanked by legible analog gauges.
Front seat comfort is excellent, but adult passengers are still right to criticize rear seat accommodations. Despite an increase in legroom last year (thanks to scooped-out front seatbacks), space is still at a premium. We guess these rear quarters will more often carry overflow from the trunk than passengers, though. Given the large exterior dimensions, the GTC's trunk is relatively small, holding only 9.2 cubic feet, but at least it can accommodate a standard golf bag with the woods removed.
The remarkable thing about the 2013 Bentley Continental GTC is how normal it drives. You may be disappointed if you're expecting an exotic event car for weekends, but if you're looking for an exquisitely crafted convertible for your daily drive or weekend road trips, this car is for you. Its superior visibility, buttoned-down ride and composed handling make driving both effortless and involving.
Then there are the engines. The 6.0-liter W12's horsepower is impressive. But its 516 lb-ft of torque, all of it available from just 1,700 rpm, is awe-inspiring. The new V8 is no slouch, either. It manages to improve fuel economy by a generous 30 percent and its performance is just as lively as the W12. Add to that a more aggressive growl, and the V8 may become the engine of choice.
No matter the engine, a torrent of propulsion is available anywhere in the rev range, pushing the car past extralegal speeds with ease. Still, the Continental GTC isn't a sports car. Those looking for an exotic style and incredible handling are better served by an Aston Martin, Ferrari or Maserati.