By on July 11, 2008

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.  

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40 Comments on “2009 Bentley Continental GTC Review...”

  • avatar

    “…if you don’t get it, it’s for you.”

    Simply brilliant…

    Talk about brand-dna, the Conti has its W12 in front of the front wheels, like all Audis since the thirties DKW.

  • avatar

    I have never understood the appeal of this thing, it has all the grace of an overwrought FWD coupe desperately trying to hide that fact with AWD.

    WTF is the point of a Bentley if it is NOT unique? This thing is not much different from a VW Pheaton than an ES350 is different than a Camry!

  • avatar

    If you consider the intended audience of movie stars, sports figures, music execs and other types the Bentley is probably right on the mark. Lucky for me I’ll never have to choose between this ride and a lesser whip like a Rolls or a Mercedes.

  • avatar

    “…if you don’t get it, it’s for you.”

    Simply brilliant…

    I see a few on the roads, and one parked every morning in front of a shop, and have never been really impressed with the design. Not bad, but definitely too imperfect. If anything, the wheels are too big, as it seems a give a high ground clearance to the car, which is strange for a GT coupe/convertible.

  • avatar

    this is an excellent review. thanks, you are a good writer.

    around here, the drivers of these cars are always looking around to see who is looking at them. Must have alot of accidents.

  • avatar

    Unfortunately, the world needs a 552 hp Bentley about as much as it needs a new Dodge Ram Hemi.

  • avatar

    So how many stars out of five does this big boy get?

  • avatar

    When I was just in LA I called these Bentleys the new Mercedes since they seemed to have replaced the dime-a-dozen S class cars for those who want to make a statement about wealth. On the other hand I love the styling, it’s the rare case where the car’s appearance is in sync with its role. Nothing looks like a Bentley or says “I want you to think this car is understated when in reality it’s yelling at the top of it’s lungs that I have more money then is in you local bank branch.” They really hit the nail on the head for their market and that’s why these things are selling so well. BMW made a gargoyle of a car for Rolls while VW finally did something right.

    Does anyone but me actually know where Kelly’s Island is? That’s an obscure reference to be sure.

  • avatar

    Um, the Fitzgerald is in Lake Superior ;)

  • avatar

    nudave Says:
    July 11th, 2008 at 10:05 am
    Unfortunately, the world needs a 552 hp Bentley about as much as it needs a new Dodge Ram Hemi.

    If someone has the money, why not? I hate that kind of an attitude that if I can’t afford it, no one else should have it.

    Frankly, the world does need more Bentley’s as it means there are more successful people. Keep in mind that you could be too!

  • avatar

    Great review. Actually I think Bentley or the German running it get it. If you have this kind of money to spend on a car then you want other people to know it.

    I do get it and if I ever did want to get a “LOOK AT ME I‘M RICH, LOOK AT ME ” car this would be it. But unfortunately I’m far too cheap so no matter how much money I had I’d probably just buy a practical car and just invest the difference.

  • avatar

    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.

    At this point I knew that the conclusion to this review should not have been “if you don’t get it, it’s for you”, but “I don’t get it”.

    Seriously, pushing a boulevardier to the limits? In what universe is that its intended purpose? People who look seriously at buying this vehicle likely make in excess of $10m per year. Do you think they cannot afford a proper sports car? This is a vehicle to wave to your friends from while cruising on your way to the yacht club. The idea that someone will use a Bentley for all kinds of driving is in the same category as a poor person declaring they would never buy an IWC Portuguese because its automatic movement couldn’t handle the stress of a jackhammer.

  • avatar

    My guess is the two owner groups are hedge fund managers and the semi-retired.
    For hedge fund managers, this convertable is a way for them to get out and enjoy some fresh air.
    For the others, its not a car but simply another nice thing to own, a bit of a bucket list if you will. 10k watch, got it. Beach house, yep.
    Hey – this convertible thing is nice and I’ve never owned a Bentley…..OK, I’m in.
    For both groups, this car ticks off all the boxes very well. I bet these owners rarely get a speeding ticket, let alone actually DRIVE this thing hard.
    As for me, I am saving for my 2007 Aston, that I want to buy in about 12 years. It will still be the most perfect thing on any road.

  • avatar

    The owner of an Arnage or Azure is a lot more likely to be traditionally wealthy. This car (well at least the coupe version, the convertible is a lot more expensive) is just cheap enough that rich, but not wealthy people may stretch slightly above their means to get one

  • avatar

    Add a coat of blazing red paint and there you have it — The new “Christine”.

    If you would have plunged the car into Lake Erie, half of the water would have splashed out.

  • avatar

    Please don’t ever mention Paris Hilton again. Or Blohan.

    “is just cheap enough that rich, but not wealthy people may stretch slightly above their means to get one”

    Looking around Toronto, they stretch slightly above their means to get one AND a set of particularly lurid rims and low profile tires (no spinners yet, thank God). Bentley went slightly downmarket in price, but massively downmarket in class.

  • avatar

    What’s the vitriol toward Paris? So, she is a dumb chick with boatloads of money. And that is supposed to be bad?

  • avatar

    thetopdog nailed the market demographic. That’s exactly why Bentleys sell: their price point and image fit perfectly.

    Frankly, the world does need more Bentley’s as it means there are more successful people. Keep in mind that you could be too!

    Not to start a flame war, but I’d like to point out that “successful” may mean something else than “making buckets of money”. It can be raising kids, building the house you want, memorizing the dictionary, or simply doing nothing special at all, and being very happy. “Successful” is too subjective to be defined narrowly.

  • avatar

    Really wealthy folks that want to show off their money drive Ferraris because they are still rather exclusive. A 599 or a 612 are rare sights even in NYC and the Hamptons.

    Those VW made wannabe exotics are a dime a dozen! They do show up anywhere and everywhere. I can count at least 4 Bentley GTs and 3 Gallardos that I see regularly in the “hood”.

    The same can be said for the “new” ex-Ford Aston Martins. While they have a nice shape to them under close inspection they are really no big deal. The dealer on Northern Blvd on Long Island appears to always have about TEN of these thing parked in an open lot. That fact alone says a lot about how special (or not)these things are.

    All of these cars appear to suffer the “bastard” effect of lackluster expensive cars; All can be found with the greatess of ease on the used car market and purchased for about half the new price.

    The real problem with the new AM, Bentley, Bugatti, and Lamborghini is that all of these car lack any history or heritage. They exist simple so larger automakers can “pimp” an old name for some new glory basically using off the shelf parts.

    Definiately NOT my definition of of what a high-end auto should be and IMO this strategy will only hurt the eurpean auto industry in the long run. If “top of the line”, EXOTIC products no longer need to be unique, the Japanese auto industry will soon take over the rest of the world.

    A simple 911 will get you more respect on the street and with real enthusiast than any of these cars.

  • avatar

    Hey Mike, nice review. Not sure exactly what their target market is, but after my girl sat in it she declared “it’s for old people”. While we didn’t take it for a spin I was a bit underwhelmed by the interior. I mean it was nice, but not “hot damn this is nice.” I sat in a Maybach a few years back, now that was badass. Anyhow I always see a couple of these at Rao’s down the block from me, the older Italian gentlemen who frequent there seem to like them, along with CTSs and SLKs.

    If you don’t mind could you email the pics you took of us in it? dolo54 at yahoo. Thanks.

  • avatar

    This car is for the Richie Rich. I see a lot of Bentley on Chestnut Hill and Wellesley, Massachusetts but not the convertible.

    I can tell the people who drive this car are well off. AND REALLY CAN AFFORD TO BUY THIS CAR

    And I won’t dare buy this car. The Excise tax will kill me. I rather put the money on gas and buy a dozen Mitsubishi MieV electric vehicle on 2009 with a Hp equivalent to a car with turbo.

    I remember Paris Hilton asked Miss Richie on their tv series.

    Paris asked What is Walmart? Richie said it is one of the famous big store in America and Paris said never heard of it. LOL

    Thats what I call Super Rich never shop at Walmart and she doesn’t even know the store exist.

  • avatar

    There was a time when you probably could have driven to Kelly’s Island — and used Lake Erie water for fuel. By the way, The Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior. It plied the route from the Indiana steel mills to the iron mines of Minnesota.

  • avatar

    Ok, I’ve actually spent a night on Kelly’s Island, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t blindsided by that reference either.

    If I recall correctly, The Bentley would more out of place there than Paris would in a Walmart.

  • avatar


    911s are a dime a dozen. I don’t know one enthusiast that doesn’t find an Aston, Lambo or Bugatti (come on, the Veyron is one of the most amazing cars in the world) more exciting than a 911. Especially the non-GT2/GT3 versions that have lackluster performance for their price points

  • avatar

    The wife of the CEO of Cargill used to have one of these, until she saw a friend’s SLR pop-top and upgraded to a Rolls Drophead.

    Despite it’s Teutonic roots, I think the car as a whole, coupe or roadster, is gorgeous, sensual and satisfying. Just imagine Anthony Hopkins uttering the word “erotic” in the voice of Lektor. Then again, I haven’t driven one. My mom thought these cars were only $60,000 because she sees them around Los Angeles all the time. Only if.

  • avatar

    I like it. Not that i’ve ever seen one, and i can think of other i cars id rather buy. One hand is enough to count hte amount of Porsches i see in a year.. Though did see a Quattroporte and a Diablo few months ago. Whopee.

  • avatar

    with Aston around, I don’t see why anyone the market for a gorgeous luxo-cruiser ever buys anything else. but that’s just me.

  • avatar

    As for me, I am saving for my 2007 Aston, that I want to buy in about 12 years

    Wonder what price of gas it’ll be or be any at all?
    King Abdullah’s has the vision that my son or grandson will be riding Camels again.

    The Chrysler 300c when done up with wire mesh grille, it does have an eerie resemblance of these new Bentleys.
    When buying a reg Bentley is not enough the haves need bespoken too so nobody can out do mines, leave the Jones in the dust so to speak.

  • avatar

    This car proves the rich do not have taste at all.

    Just get a Dodge Charger and paste $200,000 onto it.

    If you’re rich and a real ‘car guy’ there are scads of other cars that don’t look like, well, a brick.

    Anyone who passes up something like a Quattroporte sedan or Italian exotic for this lump of manure deserves what she gets.

  • avatar

    To all who pointed out the Big Fitz wreck reference, I know fully well it sank in Lake Superior, I used it because I liked the reference, and the wreck of the Mar-Lu is even more obscure than Kelley’s Island!

    And if you look closely, some of the pictures were taken on Kelley’s Island, now guess which ones.

    And the GTC is not really all that bad, just not all that great. It was a very nice car, but when the Jag XF I’m driving feels, drives, and performs better, it kinda leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, especially at that price point. And if you want to know the criteria I evaluate an exotic, its this:

    -Does it feel just as special cruising Highway 1 near Big Sur, cresting the Continental Divide in Colorado, and getting groceries as it does in the middle of Times Square.

    @ Dolo54, you got mail!

  • avatar

    The indiana steel mills sunk much the same way the Edmud Fitz. did. The wrecks are still there.

  • avatar

    My guess is that the last three pics were on Kelly’s Island. Hey, I’m 100% the very last picture was…I see water.

  • avatar

    An 05 Phaeton will run you about $30k (for the eight, not the 12) in a private sale. There are plenty of deals to be had in this class of car as fashion goes in and out. Depreciation is brutal- plus, for the person who sees one outside a shop- wouldn’t the employees ask for raises?

  • avatar

    hwyhob ‘So, she is a dumb chick with boatloads of money. And that is supposed to be bad?’

    Marry one and you will soon find out. Some time we can share a beer and I will tell you about the spectacularly wealthy suburb I grew up in (I wasn’t one, regrettably) and how much rich chicks suck (no, not a double entendre).

  • avatar

    The Continental GT Coupe is high on my wish list. I drove a friend’s GTC while at a car show last summer. Loved it. Funny, my first impression was like your’s: freight train. What a rush!

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    “The bikini-clad blond with waiting-for-a-nuclear-blast sized sunglasses was impressed by the big black Bentley.”

    Brilliant. I hate those stupid sunglasses. Makes me want to punch girls who wear them in the face.

  • avatar

    Uh ya, that is exactly to A TEE what I was going to say about that car!!

  • avatar

    The Chrysler 300c … does have an eerie resemblance of these new Bentleys.

    Funny about that. A couple of years ago I had a wheel on my Ferrari 456 refinished. When I went to pick it up the guy who did the work asked which car was mine and I pointed to my 300 (stock grill, BTW). He said, “Oh, is that your Bentley? Sweet!” I sort of laughed, because I thought he was needling me. Then he asked me again about the Bentley and I realized that he was serious. I told him it was a Chrysler and he thought I was kidding.

    That’s some claim to fame.

    I’m not really into convertibles (for the same $200k I’d probably get a 612) but I think I’d rather have an SL65 than the Bentley. Lots of car but perhaps less flash.

  • avatar

    GTC’s are incredibly common where I live. The local exotic rental place had at least a couple in the showroom the last time I went past, as did another general luxury dealer down the street. As such, I must dispute the comment about confusing it for an Audi. At a certain distance when you can’t see the front it looks almost identical to an A4 cabrio. Compared to the Azure that I see wafting through town the GTCs are tiny, inelegant and clearly for the new rich. Half of them have MD plates. Also, it should be noted that they’re driven mostly by women. It’s very much a girl’s car. That Azure is only driven by a man.

  • avatar

    I was looking at a video of the Rolls but the reverse opening ft door looks funky. It looks like you have to back into the car. LOL I would love to hear other opinions
    I like this color better:

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