- Bulky swagger
- Never-ending power and torque
- All-wheel drive is standard
- Materials and quality are beyond reproach
- Hefty, hefty, hefty
- Dreadful fuel economy
- Navigation system is illogical...
- ...and so is the Naim audio system
The 2010 Bentley Continental GT and GTC convertibles indulge the rich with stunning power and surprising handling-not to mention a gawk-worthy options list and a mortgage-sized price tag.
The 2010 Bentley Continental line of coupes and convertibles continues to grow with limited editions. Already offered as a GT Speed and GTC Speed, the Continental range includes a new Supersports edition for 2010, with even more power and finery. In all, there are five Bentley Continental two-doors, each with a wide range of cosmetic and luxury touches available for personalization.
The two-door carries a base price, including gas-guzzler taxes and destination charges, of about $185,000, which zooms to more than $275,000 with the new Supersports edition. The competition? A scant handful of machines, including the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class coupe, the Ferrari California, and the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe and Drophead Coupe.
Between the Continental GT coupes and GTC convertibles, there's a distinct choice offered to buyers. While both cars are spun from pieces common to the Bentley Continental Flying Spur sedan, their looks and driving appeal are more distinct than you might see at first glance. The imposing elegance of the pillarless Conti GT coupe is more modern and appears smaller than its actual length and weight confirm. The Continental GTC convertibles, with the roof arc sheared off, take on a more timeless, vintage look, with vivid creases on the body above the front and rear fenders giving it a thicker, more static appearance. It's more of a boulevardier, though it shares the coupe's circular headlamps, chromed matrix grille, and LED tail lamps. The cabin of all Continentals mixes traditional materials and shapes smartly. Bentley logos, chrome, and wood trim span the Continental GT's wide dual-binnacle dash, with a Breitling timepiece ticking away in the center of the dash, surrounded by walnut or knurled aluminum-or whatever custom trim the owner specifies. Bentley takes the homage to its zenith with the Mulliner Driving Specification; it wears diamond-quilted leather seats, a knurled shift knob, and a three-spoke steering wheel, and on the Continental GT Speed and GTC Speed, the Mulliner package adds dark-finished metal trim, a rear spoiler, and wider exhaust pipes for a slightly menacing look.
All versions of the 2010 Continental GT series share a basic drivetrain: a 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged, W-12 engine that feeds its power to an all-wheel-drive system through a six-speed automatic shifter. The GT and GTC get the "base" specification of 552 horsepower, a locomotive-style figure that vaults the coupe and convertible to 60 mph in a promised 5.1 seconds despite its unseemly 5,500-pound curb weight. In the GT Speed and GTC Speed, the W-12 is tuned to make 600 hp. Dropping about a half-second off that 0-60 mph time, the Speed versions have even more vivid acceleration with a cardiac lope of a soundtrack. Top speed? Bentley says 195 mph. And that's not the end of the twiddling with the 12-cylinder; in the Continental Supersports, Bentley's big engine twists out 621 hp, 590 lb-ft of torque, and fires the car to a 3.7-second 0-60 mph time and a claimed 204-mph top speed. All versions share a six-speed sequential-shifting automatic with paddle controls and a sport driving mode, which maintains seamless gearchanges but executes them more quickly. The Continental GT also is fitted with standard all-wheel drive, with a Torsen differential doling out torque as traction needs shift, from front wheels to rear wheels. Fuel economy is a miserable 10/17 mpg, though the Supersports edition can run on E85-blend ethanol.
The 2010 Bentley Continental coupes and convertibles ride as expected-creamy-but handling's far better than you might expect from such a hefty car. The combination of an independent air suspension with computer-controlled shocks and a three-mode ride control called Continuous Damping Control (CDC), blunts most every road impact, though Bentley's dialed in lighter steering feel and the shocks and steering both raise their input levels as the car's pulse quickens. It's amazingly willing to press hard and deep into corners, well past the driver's desire to crumple anything this heavy and expensive. The Conti's brakes are big and deep-especially the $16,500 optional carbon-ceramic rotors, the most powerful brakes ever found on a production car, Bentley says. Speed editions get lower ride heights and 20-inch wheels, as does the Supersport, which also picks up a reprogrammed transmission for quicker shifting and a wider rear track for improved roadholding.
With four seats and the same overall length as two Smart Fortwo city cars, the 2010 Bentley Continental GT should have more room for its backseat passengers. The driver and front passenger won't complain, since they have plenty of shoulder and knee room, as well as ample headroom to go with their fabulously supportive seats. The backseat's simply too difficult to enter easily, and legroom and shoulder room are cramped for style. Bentley's trimmed the Continental from front to back by about 10 inches to create a more athletic look for the two-door, and that chop comes right out of rear-seat room. Adults forced in the back of the GT and GTC will complain about the lack of room, but all passengers will marvel at the Continental's sensory rush of top-quality materials-from the plush carpets and fine wood and leather, all the way to the padded ski-sack pass-through that expands the cargo room somewhat. The Continental has some of the most obscenely well-selected, well-fitted materials found in any car built today.
The 2010 Bentley Continental GT and GTC have not been crash-tested by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) or the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). All sport standard front, side, and curtain airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, and all-wheel drive. Convertibles are fitted with automatic pop-up roll bars for added rollover protection, while Speed and Supersports versions have revised stability control that aims to prevent a vehicle spin, while allowing some entertaining wheelspin. A rearview camera helps with the Continental's visibility; even in the GTC convertible, it can be difficult to gauge the Conti's far-and-away rear end.
Build it yourself? No, the Bentley Continental isn't a do-it-yourselfer. But it is as close to handcrafted as you can come, with choices for interior trim and colors that can personalize any coupe or convertible right from the factory. All Continentals offer standard electronic climate control; soft-close doors and decklid; Bluetooth connectivity; and a DVD navigation system that also controls climate and audio functions. The collision of controls for the systems leads to confusing inputs and lots of frustration. Bentley also specifies Sirius Satellite Radio and a six-CD changer as standard. Bentley Continental GTC convertibles add a power top that folds in 25 seconds and has an indulgent feel and great sound-damping ability. Bentley offers an upgraded 1,000-watt Naim audio system with 14 speakers for a mere $6,000, but our editors couldn't recommend its thin sound and lack of user controls for audio quality. On the recommended list: a Mulliner package of quilted leather, knurled chrome, and turned aluminum trim, as well as the optional lambs-wool rugs and the available iPod interface.