What is it?
The Bentley Continental GTC was belatedly given the mechanical and visual updates its coupe sister car benefitted from in 2011, but this only served to further enhance its position as an object of real desire. The Continental GTC is arguably better proportioned than its coupe sibling thanks to the flatter rear bootline and lower roof. Now faster than ever, its hood is so sumptuously thick you wonder how it folds. And with the launch of the V8 version, Bentley has taken the entry-level prices down to a slightly more affordable level. It hardly becomes mainstream but, when combined with much better economy, does make it more viable.
The new Speed version becomes the first soft-top Bentley to crack 200mph, thanks to a revised-for-2013 625bhp W12 engine. Even so, our pick remains the V8, packing 500bhp and torque almost as monstrous as the W12. It’s perfectly fast enough, just as effortless and, best of all, is more engaging than the bigger motor.
The V8’s lighter weight also aids the handling. That huge nose tucks into corners more eagerly and the massive 2.5-tonne kerbweight doesn’t seem quite as mesmerising. You could even call it lithe, if you hadn’t ever sampled the delicacy or finesse of a Porsche or Aston. The four-wheel drive chassis also hangs on gamely but, should your senses finally return and you begin driving the Conti GTC in the way nature intended, it will also waft along with a cosseting ride and extremely relaxing gait.
On the inside
There might be the odd familiar switch in there, but the rest has been thoroughly updated with the facelift. The satnav is now brilliant, not tragic, for example. But the main impression is of a hugely appealing driving environment. Not just because shocking pace is only a mere toe prod away, but because of the obvious love and attention that’s gone into building it. It’s likely you’ll get RSI from operating the chrome air vent openers, such is the pleasure of their action. The seats are beautifully comfortable, but keep the leather and wood finishes simple if you don’t want to look like new money.
You could spend Continental GTC money on a ’Benz, but where’s the imagination in that? The GTC is born in Bentley’s Crewe production facility, being meticulously constructed with real care and attention by skilled craftsmen and women. Look at it that way and it’s cheap. Even so, running costs for the W12 will be punishing for mere financial mortals, but CEOs and directors (and the odd footballer’s wife) don’t need to worry about such things. And if they do, enter the V8, with a 40 per cent fuel economy improvement. Although of much more relevance will be the fact it goes 40 per cent further before the footballer’s wife has to get fuel put into the tank…