Easy to navigate infotainment system; Handsome design; Incredible performance
Sluggish touch screen; No USB or Bluetooth; Poor fuel economy
Bentley's 2013 Continental GTC V8 mixes technology and elegance with a powerful engine that'll leave you weak in the knees.
For $230,000, you could buy a house, put your kids through college or travel the world 10 times over. Or you could buy one 2013 Bentley Continental GTC V8. That's right, the automaker that is the epitome of those champagne wishes and caviar dreams Robin Leach talked about has released its latest sports coupe. From its 8-inch infotainment touch screen and exclusive Naim 15-channel audio system to its monstrous 500 horsepower twin-turbocharged V8, this 2-ton luxury machine is the kind of car the richest 1 percent of 1 percenters would drive. So what kind of teched-out car does nearly a quarter of a million bucks get you? Grab your champagne flute and find out.
Inside, the GTC's styling is just as ostentatious as it is out. The Beluga leather that covers everything from its seats to the dash is beautifully offset by red contrast stitching, while the Piano Black panels along the center console draws your attention to the bull's-eye air vents and Breitling analog clock. At the heart of the console is Bentley's own 8-inch 1080p touch-screen display and associated controls. Exterior colors include Beluga, Dark Sapphire, Glacier White, Moonbeam, Onyx, St. James' Red and Thunder. Internal color options include Imperial Blue, Porpoise and Newmarket Tan.
The Tone, Band and Media buttons serve as shortcuts to various audio and sound settings, while the Map, Navigation and Guide buttons deal with the GTC's navigation system. Telephone opens the hands-free calling menu, while Car allows you to adjust vehicle settings. On the control bar's left is the system's power and volume button. Opposite that is a multifunction knob that provides users with different levels of functionality depending on the selected menu.
Generally, the infotainment system was easy to use. Its large on-screen buttons were easy to read, and we never felt overwhelmed with having to deal with too many options, an issue we ran into with the Audi A4's eight-button MMI Navigation Plus system. We were also particularly impressed with Bentley's decision to emulate the knurling found on the GTC's various knobs.
The biggest complaint we had with the Bentley's system was the roughly one-second delay each time we selected something on the touch screen. This was most noticeable when scrolling through radio stations or entering navigation information. For a vehicle that costs $230,000, you would think its touch screen would be more responsive than one found in a Kia. That said, the interface stays out of your way, which is something many automakers are still struggling with.
Maps and Navigation
To set a destination, press the Navigation button and begin entering your information via the touch screen. The system's predictive text feature pulls up a list of potential addresses after you enter the first few letters of the state, city and street of your destination. We found the predictive text feature to be accurate and quick. Once a destination is set, the system will provide you with a continually updated list of directions via the 8-inch display, as well as appropriate voice prompts. Further directions for upcoming turns are issued via the 3-inch display located between the GTC's tachometer and speedometer.
Satellite and Audio
Our test GTC V8 came packed with a ridiculous 15-channel, 10 speaker Naim for Bentley audio system. Audiophiles will find particular joy in drilling down in the Sound setup menu and setting the exact point in the car at which they want to focus the audio.
With the top down and the volume turned all the way up, we couldn't help but blast Jay-Z's "Money Ain't a Thing" while cruising the streets of Manhattan. Whether with the top down or up, the Naim audio system sounded exquisite. We felt the thunderous subwoofer's bass hits pounding in our chests, but were still able to talk over the music without having to raise our voices.
Unlike other vehicles we've reviewed, the GTC's backup camera offers several settings depending on your situation. While parallel parking, the standard setting helps guide you along the curb, alerting you via front- and rear-mounted sensors when you are too close to an object. A series of high-pitch squeals and on-screen notifications point to exactly where the obstruction is in relation to your car's bumpers. Switch over to the parking mode, and you'll be able to easily back the GTC up into any parking space, thanks to its simulated parking blocks and sensors. If the display is too dim or bright for the current conditions, you can adjust the contrast and hue. Switching between modes was intuitive and easy, but we would have liked to have seen Bentley offer blind-spot monitoring similar to what Audi and Mercedes offer in their vehicles.
The Convenience Specification package also includes Bentley's Adaptive Cruise Control. This system, which uses sensors built into the front bumper, allows users to set the distance from the vehicle in front of them while cruise control is active. During a drive down the New Jersey Turnpike, we set the distance to five car lengths and our speed to 65 miles per hour. When a car pulled out in front of us doing 50 mph, the Adaptive Cruise Control took over and began to slow our GTC to match the other car's speed. When the other car eventually moved to a different lane, the Bentley sped back up to 65 mph.
Bentley designed the Continental GTC V8 to power down the highway or around the track like a demon released from the pits of Hades. Its 500 horsepower twin-turbocharged V-8 practically begs to be pushed. Considering the GTC's weight -- nearly two tons -- all that muscle is needed.
With the eight-speed transmission set to Drive, the beast is relatively tame, eliciting only a slight burble. If you fancy a quick shot to highway speed, you can flip the paddle shifter down a gear and rocket away. If you truly want to experience the exhilaration of the GTC's motor, switch to Sport mode. With the exhaust note more pronounced, you can hit the gas and the Bentley will pull from 0 to 60 mph with such force you can feel your body being pushed into the driver's seat. With the throttle wide open, the engine positively roars. It's a visceral experience that needs to be felt and heard.
But that fun comes at a hit at the gas pump. Conservative driving will get you an estimated 17 miles per gallon, but pushing the engine will have it guzzling fuel. In fact, the Bentley's fuel economy is so abhorrent that the EPA hits you with a $1,000 gas guzzler tax.
When you're in the mood for a more relaxed cruise, the Bentley handles everyday driving like a proper English gentleman. Potholes disappear under the car without ever causing so much as a thump. That said, masking two tons of mass is nearly impossible. In fact, you can practically feel the Bentley's elephantine weight fighting the brakes when bringing the car to a stop. The GTC's veniliated front and rear disc brakes certainly offer more than enough stopping power and we never experienced any unpleasantness with them.
|Engine Type||Twin-turbocharged V8|
|Acceleration (0-60 mph)||4.7 seconds|
|Fuel Economy (city)||14 mpg|
|Fuel Economy (hwy)||24 mpg|
|Wireless Connectivity||Sirius satellie radio|
|Ports and Slots||iPod connector (30 pin)|
|Ports and Slots||CD/DVD player|
|Ports and Slots||SD card slot|
|Display size||8-inch touch screen|
|Trunk Capacity||9.1 cu. ft.|
|Size||15.9 x 6.3 x 4.7 feet|