family: GT Coupé, 4-door Flying Spur and
15th May 2006.
One, two, and here comes the third new
model to complete the Bentley Continental family now.
Yes, the revival of the British
luxury brand is still on its remarkably successful course
with the introduction of the new Continental
GTC convertible towards the
end of this year.
2+2 luxury cabriolet completes the Continental model
range, following the introduction of the Continental GT
coupé in 2003 and the four-door Continental Flying Spur
In figures, Bentley's success is
expressed though deliveries growth of no less than
31.2 % last year, reaching 8,627 units, a record for
(since 1998) British brand. Growth was strongest in the
USA, where Bentley deliveries rose to 3,752 units
(312km/h), AWD, W12-cylinder engine and
For comparison, sales of the British
luxury sports brand were at 1017 units in 2003, just
before the launch of the first new Continental GT (37
Continental GT units were sold then, as it was launched
only towards the end of that year).
What about the new convertible now?
With a top speed of 195mph (312km/h), all-wheel
drive, a modern 12-cylinder
engine, advanced air suspension and ultra-stiff body
structure, the Continental
GTC shows its direct lineage with the Continental GT coupe
and the four-door Continental Flying Spur.
The interior delivers the same standard
of craftsmanship, with natural wood veneers and leather
hides of the finest quality, all under an elegant,
electro-hydraulically operated soft-top roof.
GTC becomes the second convertible in the current Bentley
range, as it follows the recently announced return of the
Azure name for Bentley’s Arnage-derived flagship
But while the Azure offers classic
glamour, sophistication and accommodation for adults in
all comfort, the 2+2 Continental GTC is more designed for
phenomenal performance, in the more modern-oriented style
and excitement of the Continental GT, still with the
classic open-top Bentley motoring.
Exterior - As design Director
Dirk van Braeckel describes it, the "sporting stance
of the Continental GTC is (...) quite different from the Continental
GT coupé, with its compact
soft top and longer rear deck."
245km/h, the suspension automatically
lowers the car.
A completely new rear suspension
package allowed the rear design of the car to be kept as
compact as possible while still giving enough space to
stow the roof when folded.
"When you see the Continental GTC
with the roof up, the weight bias is moved towards the
back,” explains Raul Pires, Head
of Exterior Design. “The glass area appears to be
a little smaller than on the coupé version and the cabin
looks so low that it has this great sportscar feel."
As on the entire Continental range, the
GTC’s design has also been influenced by the need to
ensure perfect aerodynamic balance at speeds close to
200mph (320km/h). The convertible spent many hours in the
wind tunnel to ensure a low drag coefficient and like the
coupé and four-door versions it utilises an underbody
diffuser and specially sculpted rear bumper and bootlid
edge to provide downforce and stability at high speed.
interior is framed by a strip of stainless
steel around the waist line.
Interior - Robin Page, Head of
Interior Design, explains the importance of ensuring that
the exterior and interior designs work in harmony: “With
the roof stowed you immediately notice how the interior is
beautifully framed by a continuous strip of stainless
steel that runs around the waist line. Within this frame
the interior is a combination of the finest handcrafted
leather, wood and polished metals.”
As with a tailor-made suit, even the
tonneau cover (leather hide) has carefully positioned
The front seats have a new sculpted
rear which produces an additional 30mm (1.2 inches) of
knee-space in the rear.
access allows skis to be passed through
from the boot area.
In the rear, the centre console
finishes with a veneered panel just behind the front
armrests, leaving the rear seats as an uninterrupted
surface of leather hide, with an access to allow skis to
be passed through from the boot area.
The inner roof of the Continental GTC
is trimmed with a high quality fabric that looks like the
slung headliner in the original coachbuilt Bentleys.
Customers have a choice of eight headlining colours
enabling them to create a luxuriously light feel or a
darker, more sporting ambience.
Craftsmanship - As expected,
wood veneers and leather hides remain an integral part of
the Bentley furniture, as most traditional materials can
convey a contemporary feel, especially that some 21st
century technology allow, for instance, wood veneer to be
curved in a way that would simply not have been possible
in the past.
A satin metal wind-stop can be attached
across the rear seats. Made of chrome and aluminium, it
folds and stores in the boot when not in use.
roof comes with a heated glass rear window
and an interior rooflamp.
Chassis stiffening - By removing
the roof – an integral part of the body structure that
provides stiffness to the chassis – a convertible has a
tendency to shake or vibrate when driven.
The Continental GTC’s engineers began
an extensive development programme to ensure the
Continental GTC’s steel body had a high torsional
stiffness. They added significant steel reinforcement to
the sills as well as additional cross braces that run
beneath the cabin. Strengthened steel tubing was also used
in the A-pillars and windscreen surround. To remove
unwanted resonance, a great deal of time was also spent
improving the mountings for the rear subframe.
Despite the significant reinforcement
to the car’s body, the weight of the car has risen by
just 110kg over the Continental GT coupé, to 2495kg
roof folds flat in 25 sec. and can be
operated at speeds up to 30km/h.
Convertible roof with rollover
protection - The second target was to ensure that the
car’s folding roof was as refined as possible while
still fitting into a small stowage area behind the rear
seats. The seven-bow, three-layer acoustic-damping fabric
roof folds flat in just 25 seconds.
The roof materials are the best
available, with all working parts covered. From inside the
car or outside, when the roof is in operation, not one
piece of the mechanism will be visible.
The roof comes with a heated glass rear
window and also an interior rooflamp in the headlining. It
can be operated after pulling away from standstill at
speeds up to 30km/h (20mph).
For occupant safety, an advanced
rollover protection system is installed beneath the rear
headrests. If the car’s onboard computer senses that it
is about to roll during an accident, two reinforced steel
hoops are deployed in a split second, thereby working in
conjunction with the strong windshield frame to protect
passengers in the front and rear seats.
New rear suspension - To cater
for the convertible design and packaging requirements, a
new rear suspension has been created. The convertible
shares the same suspension system as its coupé equivalent
– a four-link arrangement at the front and a trapezoidal
multi-link rear axle with computer-controlled air springs
and fully variable, electronically controlled shock
absorbers in place of conventional coils.
rear suspension allowed the rear to be
kept as compact as possible.
On previous Continental models,
however, the air damper unit was mounted to the upper
lever of the rear suspension. On the convertible, the
entire damper has been lowered by 210mm and is now mounted
to a brand new lower trapezoidal link with an advanced
aluminium-cast mounting point that provides the strength
and stiffness to hold the damper in place.
With a slightly altered weight
distribution, the Continental GTC has revised air spring
pistons and damper hydraulics at the front and rear.
As with the other Continentals in the
range, the Continental GTC will allow the driver to select
from four pre-programmed suspension settings ranging from
Comfort through to Sport. These settings automatically
adjust the computer-controlled shock absorbers to ensure
that the car reacts in the right way to the driving style.
reinforcement to the GTC body added just
110kg over the GT coupé.
At speeds above 152mph (245km/h), the
suspension automatically lowers the car to ensure lower
aerodynamic lift with the best high-speed stability.
Engine - The Continental GTC is
powered by Bentley’s W12 twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre
engine, which will propel the car to 60mph in 4.8 seconds
and on to a top speed of 195mph (312km/h). It is identical
to the engine used in the coupé and four-door versions of
the Continental and delivers 552bhp/411kW.
The 12-cylinder block has a 48-valve
head with four camshafts that operate using continually
variable valve-timing. Power is transmitted via a
seven-bearing crankshaft to the car’s six-speed
automatic transmission. To ensure compliance stringent
emissions regulations, the twin turbochargers are designed
with a unique bypass valve that automatically sends
exhaust gases to heat the catalytic converters when the
car is started from cold. This valve then operates as the
turbocharger wastegate at all other times.
Turbo - The Borg-Warner
turbochargers produce a flat torque curve, ensuring that
the driver has instantly available performance without
turbo lag or shifting down through the gears. The torque
curve is constant, with no drop-off from its maximum
output of 479lb ft (650Nm) at just 1600 rev/min all the
way up to 6000 rev/min.
Gearbox - The Continental GTC’s
power is channelled through a six-speed automatic
transmission built for Bentley by ZF. The transmission can
be left in fully automatic mode or used as a clutchless
manual where gear changes take place only on the command
of the driver, via either the gearlever or paddles mounted
behind the steering wheel.
/ side airbags, plus rollover protection
beneath the rear headrests.
Continuous all-wheel drive - In
standard conditions, the advanced continuous all-wheel
drive system distributes power equally between the front
and rear axles, via a highly sensitive centre Torsen
differential. If the latter detects a deviation in torque
demand between the two axles it automatically sends more
power to the wheels indicating greater grip.
The Continental GTC also incorporates
traction control and an Electronic Stability Programme
(ESP), both of which can be disabled at the discretion of
the driver. Operating discreetly, these driver aids offer
additional security and governance over the car’s
dynamic potential without being intrusive.
Steering - The Continental GTC
shares the revised steering system that was introduced
with the four-door Continental Flying Spur. To improve
driver feel, friction was reduced in the steering column,
rack and suspension ball joints and its responsiveness was
also enhanced, with a slightly lighter weighting for more
relaxed driving at high speeds while providing a more
linear increase in loading as it begins to corner.
Brakes - In common with its
Continental stablemates, the GTC has the largest diameter
disc brakes of any series production passenger car on sale
today. The front discs are 405mm in diameter and 36mm
wide, and the rear discs 335mm in diameter and 22mm wide.
The aluminium callipers are branded with cast aluminium
‘Bentley’ logos at the front.
The braking system features a Bosch
anti-lock system with Brake Assist and electronic pressure
distribution. The Continental GTC also has an ‘intelligent’
electronic parking brake with move-off assist (except
USA). The parking brake system can also be operated as an
emergency brake. In this instance braking is applied to
all four wheels and the car’s electronic safety systems
remain fully operational allowing the driver to steer as
A tyre-pressure monitoring system is
standard equipment, and constantly measures the tyre
pressures in all four wheels, instantly warning the driver
should a significant reduction occur.