WATCH: Bentley's Continental GTC Speed wraps you in exquisite opulence and whisks you off on a truly fabulous drive
It doesn't take long to be seduced by the Continental GTC Speed - from the second you hear that engine growl, the allure of this Bentley is clear. The GT Speed is the most powerful and fastest Bentley ever produced and the convertible version is just a fraction slower.
Naturally, it's gorgeous from the outside and my coupe's Dragon Red paint glittered in the rays. Unlike the larger, more stately Bentleys, the GTC is handsome, striking and commanding, with sculpted wheel arches and a large dominant grille.
It also looks smarter and better proportioned than the Coupe. As if the last GT model weren't exhilarating enough, Bentley's 2015 redesign of this classic coupe is even better and the latest refresh includes a new boot design, redesigned bumpers, grills and fenders and new wheel designs.
Behind the wheel, feast your eyes on the sculpted dashboard and exquisite detailing and chrome-trimmed instrumentation, while glove-soft leather drapes everything else. This is what distinguishes Bentleys from virtually all other cars on the road. Think haute couture, this is a car hand-built, bespoke to the owner's requirements.
There are sumptuous surfaces, combined with an impeccable finish. It feels more modern and youthful than some of its stable mates, such as the Mulsanne or Flying Spur. Sold as a 2+2 Grand Tourer, the Continental GTC packs in supremely comfortable seats for driver and front-seat passenger - but don't even think about trying to squeeze four people in, this car is strictly for two.
Under the bonnet is an identical 6.0-litre from the GT, producing a supercar 633bhp and 840Nm of torque.
Despite it's formidable size and mass, plant your right Christian Louboutin to the floor and this car goes into hyperspace. The GTC goes from to 0-100kph in 4.3 seconds, with a top speed of 328kph.
It's easy to forget that Bentley is a company that knows a lot about making fast cars go even faster. Today, the badge may be synonymous with wealth and luxury but there is also a once-great racing heritage, which is what separates the company from its closest rivals Rolls Royce; Bentley has always been about the driver and Rolls about the back-seat passenger.
Reassuringly, this Continental GTC comes with full-time all-wheel-drive and the brakes are the top-of-the-range carbon ceramics.
While it is hard to retain a driving licence and drive this car the way you want to, if you can forget about all that underused power, the GTC is a very comfortable car to drive and a super Grand Tourer.
It is a sublime mix of eager and nimble yet composed and confident.
Folding the roof only enhances the driving experience. With the roof down, you'll need to raise your voice at higher speeds to be heard, but why not enjoy the incredible engine rumble instead and, even better, it increases the sense of speed.
The Bentley GTC Speed has all of Bentley's regular safety features, including five airbags and a Roll Over Protection System (ROPS) installed beneath the rear headrests.
The car's on-board computer can also sense if the car is about to skid or spin and two reinforced steel hoops are deployed in a split second.
A six-litre convertible is never going to be a cheap car to run - especially if you have a heavy right foot when driving. According to Bentley, the GTC returns 14.1 litres per 100km or 19mpg.
But seriously, does it really matter? I suspect the people who buy this kind of car don't know the price of a litre of fuel and care even less.
But all of this luxury does not come cheap and the basic price is €255,373. Options include 17 choices of leather trim, six colour-split combinations and seven veneers with a host of other extras.
Our test car came fully loaded with dark tint aluminium fascia panels, centre console and roof console; deep pile overmats to front and rear; first-aid kit and warning triangle; storage case to centre console; adaptive cruise control; battery charger: GPS tracking system; bluetooth telephone system with privacy handset; 4G-enabled wifi hotspot; carbon ceramic brakes with red painted callipers; space-saving spare wheel. All this came to an eyewatering €37,000 on top of the basic price. When you add in all of the Irish taxes, the total price is likely to be well in excess of €350,000.
So can you really justify a price tag equivalent to the cost of a decent family home? I actually think you can, it's not only a door into a world of exquisite comfort and ultimate luxury but it is an incredible car to drive and is now more refined and more powerful than before.
It will take you shopping with smoothness and poise and overtake on the motorway with an irresistible engine growl.
There may be few cars as expensive but there are also few that are so intrinsically cool and that make you feel quite so special.
So if your bank balance can stand it, the open sky beckons.
Bentley Continental GTC Speed Convertible
Engine and transmission: 6.0-litre W12 twin-turbo petrol, eight-speed automatic gearbox, 633bhp(472kW), 840Nm
Performance: Top speed 328 kmh and 0-100kmh in 4.3 seconds
Fuel consumption: 14.9 l/100km, 19.0mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 (road tax): 347 g/km (€2,350)
Euro Ncap safety rating: Not yet tested.
- Geraldine Herbert
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