2009 Bentley Continental GTC Review

Just the thing to impress them at the old ball game“OMG! It’s Paris Hilton’s car!” The bikini-clad blond with waiting-for-a-nuclear-blast sized sunglasses was impressed by the big black Bentley. “How much does it cost?” “How fast does it go?” “How did you get one?” An Abercrombie of bathing suits gathered around the British-built German car in the late summer sun. I didn’t have the heart to tell them they were worshipping a false idol. So what if the Bentley Continental GTC is a four-wheeled Poptart, famous for being famous? Discretion is the better part of valet parking. I’d save my bubble-bursting for the Best and Brightest. And here you are. And here we go…

The Bentley’s lines are clean and purposeful. In keeping with the Bentley Boys’ Blowers, the Conti eschews Aston grace and Ferrari flair to emulate a raging locomotive. To that end, the Bentley’s hood rises up with all the subtlety of a Dodge Ram. Make that a drunken Dodge Ram; the GTC’s headlights angle upwards, as if they’re about to roll backwards just before the car, well, passes out.

TToo much plastic for the pricehe Bentley’s rear looks as if it was designed by a drunk. How else do you explain Dirk van Braeckel’s decision to ram grossly overlarge oval taillights into a square hole? The GTC’s rear haunches blend with the chunky trunk about as well as falafels and mint chocolate chip. Top down or top up (no anorexic camel ribs here), the Continental GTC’s profile is killer: the new, more steeply raked windscreen is somehow both refined and rakish.

Taken as a whole, well let’s be honest dahling, no one’s EVER going to mistake a Bentley for an Audi. 

More leather than a Village People concertIf you want to understand what motivates leather fetishists, slip into in a Bentley Continental GTC. Honestly Dear, I swear I was just sitting here. In fact, NOT just sitting there something of a problem, nestled as you are in the world’s most comfortable car seats, surveying a dashboard festooned with milled aluminum vents, chrome ventilation knobs and sapphire crystal gages. And more wood than you’ll find on the screens at the Adult Video Awards.

Like porn stars, closer examination is not recommended. My Jetta shares steering wheel and sat nav buttons with the Bentley– and the lesser-priced VeeDub’s controls line up. We can only hope that the Continental’s more-than-slightly askew radio preset buttons are some sort of post-modern nod to Ye Olde British craftsmanship. The nav system proved clunky and abuser friendly; I guess that’s why Lindsay Lohan drives around dazed and confused.

The profile's the best angleOnce upon a time, back when CO2 was considered plant food, Bentley listed their cars’ power as “adequate.” Today’s Continental GTC is powered by a 552hp 6.0-liter, twin-turbo W-12 engine. The British brand lifted this mighty mill (sans blowers) directly from the remarkable Volkswagen Phaeton and exemplary Audi A8. With 479 lb-fts of twist on tap @ 1600 rpm, tickle the GTC’s throttle and any concerns about lower-class genetics are soon erased.

At first, the GTC’s engine rumbles like a distant thunderstorm. It quickly crescendos into a hardened roar, until it sounds like an F5 tornado bearing down upon a trailer park. Or, more likely, another gas station.

Put another way, the GTC feels like the freight train from Hell. My Aunt Chris couldn’t speak for three minutes. Cousins Brigid and Kathleen (aged 10 and 12) turned from two reserved schoolgirls into a single mass of girlish giggles, urging me to drive fast enough to skip the car across Lake Erie to Kelly’s Island. With a proper run-up, I reckon we would have made it half way- just before the 5200lbs GTC joined the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

You are getting sleepy....Yes there is that. The GTC is wider than a Range Rover and a half ton heavier than a Dodge Challenger. How do you get something this big and heavy to turn? While the Continental GTC will cruise effortlessly past reflective windows down any of the world’s priciest avenues, there is always a deserted twisty road in Central Nevada just waiting for a $240k playmate.  

The big-ass GTC handles like a 747– with more grace than you’d ever imagine. The Bentley banks through the curves with extreme levels of grip and fastidious body control. Unfortunately, the harder one pushes the two-door through a turn, the more detached the already leaden steering becmes. At some point, the GTC’s dynamic limits lose all vestiges of dynamism. If you really cane it, the all wheel-drive GTC continues to suffer in haptic and aural silence. Perhaps “real” Bentleys owners like yelling “Squeal God damn you! Squeal!” I wouldn’t know.

Looks kind of like an SSR from this angleThe Bentley Continental GTC wants to be Rolls Royce when it grows up. Or rip off all its clothes and be an Audi A8. Either way, the Bentley drop-top just isn’t comfortable in its own skin, leaving the discerning, non-status seeking driver wondering well, what IS the point? Like Paris Hilton, the Bentley is all flash and trash. In other words, if you don’t get it, it’s for you.