By Kimatni D. Rawlins, Automotive Rhythms
It was an exciting flight to Pula, Croatia to experience and drive Bentley’s 2012 Continental GTC. Not long ago the country was engaged in a fierce war. An undiscovered landmark on the European map, Croatia is full of energetic tourism and is geographically one of the most extraordinary locations I’ve ever laid eyes on. Our stay in Rovinj at the Hotel Montel Mulini off the Adriatic Sea was a picture perfect rendition of what you would see on the Travel Channel. Croatia is also one of the few parts of the world where you can find delectable truffles. (In case you’re ever on Jeopardy, here’s a fun fact: the world record for the largest truffle was recorded here.)
On the eve of our drive tour through Croatia, Bentley’s Chairman and Chief Executive, Wolfgang Dürheimer, briefed us on the company’s history and presented the second generation Continental GTC. He spoke with great passion and vigor. And after driving the $212,800 super convertible, I can truly relate to his enthusiasm. Simply put, the GTC is open-top luxury redefined.
It’s been five years since the first GTC was launched, so you can imagine the amount of new technology and sophistication instilled into every aspect of the vehicle. The formula begins with a 6-liter, twin-turbocharged W12 engine with 567 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque available up to 2000 rpm. W.O. Bentley came from a railroad engineering background and preferred powerful, high capacity engines. Today, the company is still keen on keeping with this philosophy, though an 8-cylinder will soon be on the way. The GTC’s rapid acceleration capability was evident when we needed to pass several slower moving vehicles on open roads. Like tennis phenomenon Serena Williams, the engine to vehicle size combination is utterly powerful, quick and a bit intimidating; while also being simultaneously charming and tranquil. It is possible to achieve 11 city and 19 highway mpg in your GTC, which can also operate on ethanol fuel, though mileage will decline somewhat. Full-time AWD is standard, as is the new QuickShift transmission (borrowed from Bentley’s Supersports models) that allows for double downshifts. Track width has been increased and available 21” wheels added to empower the GTC with a dominant stance. A programmable air suspension and adjustable springs (comfort or sport) allows the driver to manipulate the vehicle’s ride quality to his or her liking. Additionally, 0 to 60 mph clicks off in 4.5 seconds –almost like some of your favorite two-door sports cars!