For when Lancome Soleil Flash Bronzer just isn’t enough
Stavros Niarchos is lacing up his Piloti driving loafers, giddy as a puppy in a brand-new park over the opportunity to mow down paparazzi after a late night of clubbin’ with his girlfriend, Paris Hilton, in a new set of wheels. Bentley has announced a new version of the Continental GT, an example of which he wrecked into a truck amid the pops of flashbulbs last year, and chose to debut the new luxury convertible to the press and public at the 2006 New York Auto Show. The 2007 Bentley Continental GTC, a name which conjures up memories of both old Lincolns and Chrysler LeBaron convertibles, is called a 2+2 by its manufacturer, which is ludicrous given the size of the car. But then, Hilton is a bony, soulless waif, so she ought to fit just fine as Niarchos stomps on the gas. Manufactured at the legendary Crewe factory in England, the Continental GTC is called “the showpiece for Bentley design” by its manufacturer. It’s a showpiece for sheer, raw torque, too. A twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine with variable valve timing makes an impressive 552 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and a stunning 479 lb.-ft. of torque flowing from 1,600 rpm all the way up to 6,000 rpm. That trainload of torque is what makes the Bentley thunder from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, and the Continental GTC can achieve 190 mph with the top down, or 195 mph with the top up. A six-speed automatic that can be manually shifted using the gear selector or paddles mounted to the steering wheel sends the power to all four wheels. The 2007 Bentley Continental GTC gets the same suspension design as the GT Coupe on which it is based, but the rear suspension is reworked to make room for the folded top while leaving space for a couple of golf bags and luggage. Equipped with a continuous-damping air suspension with four levels of control ranging from Comfort to Sport, the Continental GTC automatically lowers itself at 152 mph for improved aerodynamics. Bentley equips the GTC with the reduced friction, lighter weighted steering from the Flying Spur sedan, and installs the same gigantic brake discs as found on other Continentals. Measuring 405mm in diameter and 36mm in width up front and 335mm x 22mm in back, the Continental GTC’s ventilated pizza pans are the largest of any series-production automobile in the world, according to Bentley. As if sheer size isn’t enough to haul this 5,500-pound convertible down from speed, aluminum calipers embossed with the Bentley logo clamp down on those huge discs, working in concert with ABS, EBD, and brake assist. Traction and stability control systems are also on board, as is a tire pressure monitor. When slicing the roof off a coupe, the resulting convertible lacks a major structural element. To combat unwanted shake in the 2007 Bentley Continental GTC, additional cross-braces run under the car, steel sill reinforcements have been installed, and the windshield pillars are strengthened. The three-layer soft top includes a heated rear glass window, and overhead interior light, and is trimmed with a luxurious headliner offered in eight different colors. Electro-hydraulically operated, the Continental GTC’s roof folds in 25 seconds, and can be operated at speeds up to 20 mph. But with retractable hardtops all the rage, why not include one on the new GTC? Bentley says it wanted to avoid the multiple shut lines such a solution requires. Therefore, designers put extra effort into making the GTC look great even with the top up. Top down, a continuous strip of stainless steel encircles the cabin, and a leather tonneau hides the top from view. Inside, the 2007 Bentley Continental GTC is decorates in natural wood veneers, handcrafted leather upholstery, and polished and satin metal accents. Buyers can personalize the car through a wide range exterior paint, top, and upholstery colors, and a range of Mulliner options can make each Continental GTC that much more exclusive. Bentley buyers can get aluminum dash panels, contrasting stitching on the seats and door panels, embossed seat surfaces, a four-spoke wood and leather steering wheel, front lambswool rugs, premium veneers, and an alloy fuel filler cap. A chrome and aluminum wind stop installs over the rear seats, and the Continental GTC includes an advanced rollover protection system that instantly pops two protective hoops up from behind the rear seat headrests. Joining the GT coupe and Flying Spur sedan, the 2007 GTC completes the Continental lineup, and complements the larger Azure convertible. Bentley Motors’ Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen, says, “It is very elegant and at the same time effortlessly modern. It will appeal to many different customers: people who are tired of driving sports cars that require too much effort; people who want to move up from more standard convertibles; and people who want to make a statement about what they drive, yet still own a car that they can use every day of the year.” Based on what we saw in New York, the new 2007 Bentley Continental GTC hits a home run on every count.
Photos by Ron Perry