All the other cars in our building parking would have been fast asleep when my Bentley GTC arrived and climbed up the ramp. A blood curdling roar echoed across the lot, shaking off their slumber as a chill of fearsome respect ran down their axles.
Even if not in this dramatic detail, I expect the Bentley GTC’s entry into any party to be in similar fashion.
UPSIDE: Marvellous sound, smooth and powerful, Fun to drive, Reasonable seat and storage space
FLIPSIDE: Navigation could be more user-friendly, Touch functions aren’t feather-soft, Extra steering spin
Bentley GTC In Figures: 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8, 8-speed transmission, All-wheel drive with 40:60 rear-biased torque split, 500 bhp power and 660 Nm of torque, Top speed: 290 kmph, Up to 800 km without refuelling (claimed)
This is the fourth car that I’m driving within the past nine months that shares Audi’s 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8. In each example, the engine is moulded in the character of the chassis it is mated to. In the Bentley GTC, as in its coupe version, it produces a monumental 500 bhp. In the Audi S8, it produces twenty more but in the Bentley, the bi-turbo achieves its sonoric climax. The tone of the exhaust notes is simply magnificent. As in the other examples, four cylinders are deactivated on a casual drive but tearing apart the throttle brings all the eight heads to life. It’s like a cuckoo clock, that pops out in the hour of power – only, in the Bentley GTC’s case they’re not cuckoos but ferocious gargoyles that peek out of their caves with a spine-chilling roar before retreating as the car settles down.
And that is the most interesting thing about the GTC with its roof down – listening to this marvellous sound up close and all round.
The Bentley GTC only had the bare necessities in its gadgetry because this is a driver oriented Bentley rather than one to be driven in. With absolutely supportive and large side view mirrors, who needs blind spot monitors? But with such power in hand you might be thankful for having the adaptive cruise control that monitors speed in relation to the vehicle ahead.
Bentley claims the Continental GTC V8 drive train can save up to 40% in fuel cost and CO2 emissions. What was evident in the drive was how it delivers power in superb fashion; it’s almost as though walking a tight rope on roller skates! The 8-speed transmission is quick to settle down but never at the cost of power. The stupendous torque of 660 Nm is available between 1700 and 5000 rpm. And in case you need more from the bi-turbo just switch to the sport mode and the benefits include an incessantly flowing tap and non-stop, ferocious rock and roll. The transmission makes use of seven shifts in sport mode, and there is a manual shift with paddles that prompts you to up-shift all the way. The downshift is automatic in case you get carried away. The paddle shifts are big and nicely grooved for grip, and shift back to auto if you don’t care about them for too long. Still, they make this Bentley more fun to drive.
The fuel efficiency at one point was 6.8kms per litre, which is pretty good, but after some aggressive driving dipped to 5.8. Overall, it should fetch an average of 6.5kms per litre.
Riding on the largest tires any sedan could desire, the 22inch Potenza by Pirelli, the Bentley GTC makes for a great mix of sporty and comfortable. The braking is excellent – sure, straight and rather smooth.
What’s amazing is how this two and a half ton behemoth tempts you to try out a slalom with its agility. While it cannot help showing its weight at times, on a normal drive it comes across as very light to handle – a feeling that largely has the light steering to thank. But then, if there’s anything quicker than the Bentley GTC, it is the steering wheel of the Bentley GTC. Though nicely tight and balanced, it stays a tad ahead of the wheels. By the way, the 0 to 100 came up in 5.2 seconds.
The maroon rooftop gives the convertible a classic touch, even more than the GT V8 coupe. Inside the cabin, it’s evident especially in the pins that can be pushed in and out to activate the AC vents. With a rusty red exterior, my test car had a dual tone package of rusty red and cream-ish beige inside as well – as classy and elegant as any design school would have it.
Cabin and Controls
Inside the cabin, the Bentley butlery attends to you with cosseting seats, and the seat belt holder offering itself as you ease into the predetermined seat position. There are massage seats – heated and cooled of course – and a favourably raked 8-inch screen with a straightforward array of buttons beneath (tone, radio, media, telephone, map, navigation, information and car settings). As for the air-conditioning, the individually controlled air channels allowed me to cool my heels without upsetting other passengers! Surprisingly, the touch screen and the functions weren’t feather-soft and required deliberate jabs.
The legendary craftsmanship of Bentley is evident even in this ‘entry level’ convertible. The leather which incidentally is not from cows but from bulls (how does that make me happier, I’m not too sure!) and seasoned to perfection along with the wood that goes through a process that is as laborious as the end product is luxurious, dons the dash in sizeable strips.
The console has a start-stop switch, suspension control settings as well as the option to raise or lower the car with the air suspensions. Interestingly, the driver and the passenger, both get a hazard lamp button.
Unlike the Continental GT V8 tested earlier, the GTC came with navigation (which didn’t turn out to be very friendly in use) and a rear view camera (apart from the rear parking sensors). But anyway you will still have to pay to include the options.
The drive is as firm as ‘sporty’ dictates but the comfort settings and the wheel travel is so generous that most bumps were hardly noticeable. As expected, the rearseats are crammed by luxury car standards but generous when compared with most cabriolets. Making things brighter, there’s no shortage of head room at the rear.
The storage in this entry-level Bentley isn’t bad at all. You get a large sized niche under the armrest though some of the glove box space is taken by the media player; shallow doorsill pockets; and a rubber gripped niche under the navigation console ideal for mobile phones or anything that could run away. The velvet-lined boot space can easily accommodate two golf kits.
The Bentley GTC is pretty silent for a soft top even on its 22-inch wheels. Road noise is reserved for the times when you bring your top down. Along with the fuel saving of the four-cylinder set up, the Bentley Continental GTC V8 provides the plush comfort expected of a luxury sedan on long trips.
The essential Bentley GTC V8
Stuck in traffic in your Bentley GTC V8, you won’t feel bored; the music system is excellent and if you’re not inclined to music at the moment, there’s something else to engage you all along – just roll the roof back and get pinged by those glances that are thrown at you in dozens.
Drive courtesy: Bentley Motor Co.
Picture courtesy: Sudeep Koshy