Bentley Continental GTC

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There is a rule that says that no convertible can be as good as the coupe upon which it is based. And for obvious reasons too: chop the top off a monocoque and you’ll add so much weight trying to recover some of the lost torsional rigidity you’ll always end up with a car that’s still nothing like as stiff as a coupe yet substantially heavier. But if there is an exception to this rule, the Bentley Continental GTC is it. It can’t defy physics and is therefore heavier and squidgier than a GT, but on the road these apparent deficiencies melt away almost to nothing.

No doubt this is partly because the GTC is the stiffest four-seat convertible in the world and, when you start with a weight in excess of 2300kg, another 100kg or so really isn’t going to make much difference. But there’s more to it than this. Certain cars just suit one configuration over another: the best BMW M3s have always been the ultra-rare four-door cars, a Mercedes E-class never beffer than as an estate. And of all the cars in the Continental range, the convertible is simply the most convincing.

Its midlife update is a typically Bentley project: not content with the usual nip and tuck of body and interior, Bentley has provided a liffle more power, and trimmed off a liffle more weight. The torque split is now biased slightly rearward, and the suspension is completely rethought in spring, damper and roll-bar rate. And the gearshift time has been halved. A thorough job to put it mildly.

And this is how it feels when you drive it: it’s not been transformed out of all recognition, but usefully and effectively honed in all important areas. It feels more nimble and a little quicker so it’s better to drive, while its ride quality has taken a substantial step forward, so it is a superior cruiser too.

But I think the real reason this is preferable to a tintopped Continental is that roof. Do not misunderstand me: I’ve always thought that very fast cars should be closed and very slow cars should be open, and, with a claimed top speed of 195mph and real top speed unquestionably in excess of 200mph, there is no question which category the GTC fits into. But while every car manufacturer who turns a coupe into a cabrio claims a blindfolded punter wouldn’t tell the difference, with the GTC it’s actually true up until about 150mph at least.

Despite possessing two of my least favourite features of a high performance car excess weight and a fabric roof the Continental GTC is in short an excellent car and a fine Bentley.

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