Few experiences equal the feeling of driving a new 2012 Bentley Continental GTC down a crowded Los Angeles highway – especially when the droptop is prismatic magenta with highly polished 21-inch wheels. Some stare. Others glare. But most simply sneer. The response should be expected. After all, a vehicle of this caliber is designed to broadcast to others that you have succeeded. Unfortunately, this specific boisterously purple quarter-million dollar convertible with flashy wheels takes things a bit too far: it also seems to remind passers-by that they have failed. But let's not blame Bentley for someone's misguided selection on the color wheel. A mere 30 microns of pigment over perfectly primed aluminum, whether or not it appears related to Barney the dinosaur, isn't reason to dismiss this magnificent open-top GT. Or is it? Purple, er... magenta paint aside, the GTC is absolutely stunning in the flesh. The new droptop shares all of its underpinnings and most of its other body panels with its closed-roof sibling, the Continental GT. As you may recall, we were introduced to the reskinned and updated GT coupe in Oman more than a year ago. In September, we flew to Croatia to meet the new GTC face-to-face. Like the Coupe, the GTC now sports all-new sheetmetal and new fascias, both front and rear. Of course, Bentley has also upgraded the interior and splashed new technology throughout. The underpinnings are generally carried forward. Buried deep within the convertible is a steel unibody platform still shared with the Volkswagen Phaeton. Despite its age, the robust chassis is incredibly stiff – it is reportedly the most rigid convertible on the market. Bolted to the steel structure are aluminum panels. Instead of using traditional hydraulic or more modern hydroforming techniques, Bentley uses superforming to give the aluminum its shape. Flat sheets are heated to more than 900 degrees Fahrenheit and then deformed in a pneumatic mold utilizing air pressure. The process is less stressful to the alloy, thereby allowing it to take on a much more complex shape. Take a closer look at the front and rear quarter panels, as the brilliance is found in those sharp creases. More splendors are discovered within the passenger compartment where the British automaker has cleaned up the primary controls, instrumentation and dash vents by cleanly integrating them into the surrounding landscape. Bright metal bezels provide contrast and a new VW-sourced eight-inch touchscreen takes center stage. In addition to a new steering wheel and metal pedals, last year's heavy seats have been replaced with lighter "cobra-design" thrones. It goes without saying that everything looks, feels and smells oh-so-rich. But it should, as the sticker price on our 2012 Bentley Continental GTC was a not-so-paltry $235,137.45. But it didn't start that high. The base GTC is "only" $212,800. However, our test car arrived configured with $22,597.45 worth of options. These included the offensive Magenta paint ($4,200) over Beluga leather and contrasting Magenta stitching ($1,830) with embroidered Bentley emblems. Other upgrades included the Dark Grey metallic …
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|MPG||11 City / 19 Hwy|
|Power||567 @ 6000 rpm|
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