We've already sampled the updated 2012 Bentley Continental
GT back in April, and now it's time for the drop-top version, the GTC, to take a bow before its debut next month at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Like the coupe, the updates to the 2012 BENTLEY CONTINENTAL
GTC are evolutionary, with many of the differences hiding firmly in the details. The craftsmen (and women) from Crewe applied the same sort of small, careful updates to the convertible that they have for the coupe.
The big news for the convertible is in the open air interior. A new, sweeping dashboard and instrument panel help the GTC's cabin feel more spacious and luxurious. The interior is hand-crafted from the finest soft-touch leather hides (offered in 17 different colors and six color split combinations) choice of seven wood veneers, "cool-touch" metals and plush carpets. Rear legroom and interior storage are also increased for 2012. Bentley
claims the tailored multi-layer fabric top combined with acoustic glass and under-body panels enhance the convertible's "coupe-like refinement."
Other important upgrades to the interior are the switchgear, which is no longer cribbed directly from parent Volkswagen
AG's parts bin. The steering wheel is now more stylish and features a thick rim that frames the more expensive-looking gauges. The cabriolet also gains the 8-inch touch screen that's found in the hardtop. The new infotainment system is faster, more intuitive and better looking than the old unit. It features a 30 GB hard drive, more advanced satellite navigation with dynamic route guidance and Google map capability. The GTC also gains new deeply-bolstered seats. In fact, about the only interior piece that carries over is the gear shifter.
Outside, the BENTLEY CONTINENTAL
GTC keeps the same overall profile it has had since 2006, but the keen-eyed will notice the smaller front turn signals and a slightly larger grille. The duet of razor-sharp side character lines -- from the top of the front wheel wells just aft of the jewel-like headlights to the back -- have been smoothed out, giving the car a more bulldog-like look. The headlights of the 2012 GTC feature new LED daytime running lights, the trunk has been pulled up and squared off just like the coupe, and there are new wraparound LED taillights flanking the trunk lid. New exhaust tips and chrome accents above the rocker panels round out the body updates. Of course, a Bentley
exterior update isn't complete without larger wheel and tire packages: the convertible comes with 20-inch wheels standard and two different styles for the optional 21-inch packages -- a first for the GTC.
The Continental's speed and handling has always defied its size, and the 2012 GTC is no exception. The drop top's twin-turbo W-12 makes 15 more horsepower and 37 more pound-feet more than the outgoing model and Bentley
expects this GTC to reach a top speed of 195 mph and reach 60 mph from a standstill in 4.8 seconds, which would make it only 0.4 seconds slower than the GT that we tested. The standard ZF six-speed automatic now features Bentley's 'Quickshift' technology, which the British automaker says "cuts shift times by up to 50 percent and enables double downshifts" to reach the powerband quicker. The all-wheel-drive system has been recalibrated to offer a rear-biased 40:60 split, as opposed to the outgoing model's 50:50 split. The front and rear tracks have also been increased to improve tire grip and stability.Thanks in part to aluminum-rich suspension components, the 2012 BENTLEY CONTINENTAL
GTC is said to be 154 pounds lighter than its predecessor. These improvements, along with a Bentley's advanced ESC and recalibration to the dampers, should make the large convertible feel lighter on its feet.
Not all the improvements to the big ragtop are obvious, and some may wonder why the Bentley Continental
GTC wasn't completely revamped, but for those who will be replacing their gently used model with the new one will appreciate the upgrades that undoubtedly make it a better car than it was.