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The ultra-luxury end of the automotive market was long an exclusive club, with a select few manufacturers competing for a limited and extraordinarily affluent clientele. But despite the recent explosion of offerings, including DaimlerChrysler’s Maybach and Volkswagen’s Bugatti, buyers have largely responded with a yawn.
The notable exception has been Bentley, which scored a home run several years back, with the launch of its strikingly sleek Continental GT. Buoyed by the success of the coupe, the VW division’s sales have been setting successive all-time records, with buyers queuing up on long waiting lists.
Demand soared last year when Bentley introduced the first Continental spin-off. Stretched a full 20 inches, the Continental Flying Spur added a positively cavernous back seat to what was functionally little more than a two-seater, yet by using some nifty tricks to minimize added weight, the Spur retained the coupe’s thrilling acceleration and nimble handling.
On a recent trip to Northern California, TheCarConnection.com had the opportunity to test the latest Continental variant, the GTC. That’s “C” as in the long-rumored Cabriolet, a logical addition to the British marque’s expanding lineup — though more than a few observers were surprised by Bentley’s decision to forego the newest trend towards retractable hardtops and stick with conventional cloth.
Anything but conventional
Fabric, yes, but as we found out during a long wander through redwood country, the GTC is anything but a conventional convertible.