The arrival of the third-generation Bentley Continental GT earlier proved that the British car company has lost none of its touch when producing world-class grand-touring automobiles. Indeed — and as its name suggests — the new Conti really is a car that can not only devour good-size countries (or several smaller ones) in a single bite, but also one in which you’d embark on such an undertaking with relish.
If it was a little late in coming — one Bentley guy told me, with disarming honesty, that the eight-month delay between first reveal and production-ready was simply because the car simply wasn’t quite “good enough” for them — the company can at least rest assured that it’s nailed it. So is the new Continental the gold standard of GTs? Well, as I frankly can’t think of another contender that can boast such an unbeatable combination of outstanding performance, refinement and quite astonishing luxury, then I’d have to say it probably is.
A convertible Conti was always on the cards — because, of course, there are small armies of UNWIs in sunny spots such as Florida, Southern California and the Côte d’Azur who’re just itching to whip the roof off their flashy new wheels — and Bentley has lost little time in introducing a decapitated version, one that moreover is almost certainly destined to be the brand’s halo model. So this past week, the great, the good and the glamorous have been attending launch events for the Continental GTC (as the drop top is known) held in six locations around the world, the closest to Hong Kong being in Shanghai. At each event, guests gazed lustfully at the elegant, roofless cruiser, a sort of speedboat for the road.
Like the GT, it’s powered by a 6-litre, twin turbo W12 that produces a thunderous 626bhp; with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the GTC can reach 100km/h from rest in 3.8 seconds and reach a maximum in excess of 330, while 48-volt electrics and ultra-smart adaptive air suspension mean you’ll be riding on, um, air. A lighter and slightly less stormingly powerful 4-litre V8 is also in the works, though the factory remains tight-lipped about when that’s going to appear — and in any case, the company’s currently selling every W12 Continental it can build.
Although deliveries of the 12-cylinder ragtop to this part of the world aren’t expected until the latter half of 2019, on the evidence of my experience with the GT coupe and the gorgeous beast that was revealed in Shanghai, I can only say that when it eventually does arrive, the GTC will have been well worth the wait.