ESCAPE FROM LOS ANGELES
To Rancho Mirage in a Bentley GTC
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sat, Oct 26, 2013
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By John Grafman Does one really need a reason to take the Bentley Continental GT Convertible out for a spin? Seriously, just look at this. However, for the sake of rationalizing a shakedown drive, vacating the traffic and stresses of Los Angeles is as good an excuse as any. The destination on our GPS is set for the grandeur and open roads of the California desert. Even the well-seasoned traveler is hard pressed to find a more rejuvenating getaway than the beckoning desert community of Rancho Mirage. The few hours behind the wheel of this $224,480 Bentley GTC is indeed one of life’s richer moments. The Bentley performs magnificently on the drive in a way that only a 500 horsepower, twin-turbocharged, eight-cylinder engine, with an eight-speed transmission and all-wheel drive can. A smooth and majestic ride is its calling card, but in a blink this comes alive like a rocket. This offers elements of both refined luxury and unrestrained sports car in one delicious body.
It takes only a couple minutes and a few miles on the road to appreciate the master craftsmanship that goes into this 5,445-pound machine. True to its heritage, this brand is produced in small numbers compared the likes of Mercedes-Benz or Audi. While Bentley does employ techniques using machines and advanced robots in the development of its autos, it’s the sensitive, human touch in the process that creates a cut far above the masses. The extra effort is essential in producing one of the finest autos available today. Creating a Bentley takes something more than metal, glass, wood, paint, leather; it takes love. Bentley is fanatical on each and every aspect of its cars. The precision hand-stitching is one such example. The flawless leather comes in four standard colors, plus 13 additional options, along with four headliner choices is another. The options are never-ending and range from drilled alloy foot pedals to seat massagers and neck warmers. Bentley ensures that even the parts that aren’t always seen are perfect, like the immaculate carbon fiber that wraps underneath the aft end of the car. A perfect blend of traditional Bentley cues, like the bull’s-eye vent with chrome organ pull stops, and a Breitling clock mix with high tech features like the distance sensing adaptive cruise control, and headlights that feature both bi-xenon projectors, and LED main and running light. The results are brilliant.
On the other hand, the carbon fiber body components of this are of concern. While these are functional items to some extent, the lower front pieces along the rocker trim pieces seem highly susceptible to damage. Unlike a painted piece, these would need to be replaced if dinged by a rock or whatever, as a spray job won’t solve the problem.
The efficiency of this model begs to be taken on long jaunts. Who are we to argue? This is clearly designed for the open road in mind. The eight-cylinder engine is able to get twenty percent increased mileage on the highway over its twelve-cylinder brethren. In doing so, this only gives up just 67 horsepower. Surprisingly this is only 55 pounds lighter. Nevertheless, this still manages respectable stats with 4.7 0-60 mph blasts, and 100 mph comes in 11.4 seconds. For those with the nerve, top speed is a mighty 187 mph. As we value our driving privileges, our maximum velocity came in far shy of what this is capable of. However, with 487 pounds of torque from the 4.0-liter, two parallel, twin-scroll turbochargers aided by indirect intercooler the GTC is plenty happy to attain any speed in a heartbeat with less drama than one can imagine. This feels as poised and confident at 55mph as it does at triple digit speeds.
Equally as impressive, the Bentley GTC is so relaxing to drive that one could pass on the private jet in favor of this. This is what motoring is meant to be. The German owned company has refined each aspect of this British brand to near perfection. The convertible roof personifies the high standards instituted, resulting in a cabin that remains all but silent when deployed due to the four-layers of the insulated folding top, even at swift freeway speeds.
The desert is a far cry from Southern California’s urban cities and suburban colonies. The arid plain on tepid days is the ideal place to enjoy the pleasures of this convertible. The clear air, open land, and the pure, bare beauty of the surrounding hillsides, which jut nearly vertically from the desert floor, dramatically define the area. These rugged monuments have stood the test of time virtually unmolested.
The hills of Rancho Mirage are juxtaposed against the modern beauty of local Bentley dealership at Desert European Motorcars. The natural backdrop reminds us that cars like the Bentley GTC are timely in their position within the marketplace, but timeless in their form. The raw materials found in the natural world come together and are forged in creating a product that is functional, yet so much more.
Since opening in July 1996, the Desert European Motorcars dealership has catered to providing sensory overload. Over the years this has been one of the country’s top selling dealers of both Bentley motorcars. The multi-brand premium dealership continues its quest of finding happy homes for 150-200 exceptional new and pre-owned cars each month, as well as striving for unparalleled customer experiences. Perhaps there’s no question as to why they sell so many cars out there. Okay, there are also a very high percentage of wealthy individuals in what is commonly referred to as the “Playground of the Presidents.”
Basking in the glow of ten sparkling Bentley’s inside the upscale showroom on this 103-degree day offers little reason to venture back outside, less the desire to get some additional seat time.
The Continental line, both coupe and convertible, provide an oh-so comfortable seat for the fortunate driver and front seat passenger with 14-way power adjustments, and heating, lumbar, and nose extension controls. The rear is a bit tighter, especially if the front occupants are long-legged, but the aft seating can still accommodate two real-size people for shorter drives, and children should be happy as clams for longer hauls. The GTC can also swallow a fair amount of luggage on trips with almost 9.2 cubic feet of trunk space.
On the drive back towards Los Angeles in the lap of luxury, there’s plenty of time for reflecting on Rancho Mirage and the desert.Like the GTC, it’s hard to find anything that compares to this experience.
Not a bad place to be. Not bad at all!
For more information about Bentley products, go to www.bentleymotors.com
Name of vehicle:
2013 Bentley Continental GT Convertible
Price: Base $191,400 as tested $224,480
4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, Two parallel twin-scroll turbochargers, indirect intercooling, Aluminum alloy block, heads & pistons, forged steel crank & conrods
EPA mileage estimates
City/ Highway: 14/24
Horsepower: 500 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 487 lb.-ft @ 1,700 rpm
Drive configuration: Front engine / all-wheel drive
ZF 8HP90 AL951 eight-speed automatic with block shifting
Self-levelling air suspension with Continuous Damping Control, four-position driver-selectable settings from Comfort to Sport
Front: Four-link double wishbones, anti-roll bar
Rear: Trapezoidal multi-link, anti-roll bar
Wheels and tires:
Front: As per GTC W12 plus optional unique 21" six-spoke wheel 275/40 ZR20, optional 275/35 ZR21
Rear: As per GTC W12 plus optional unique 21" six-spoke wheel 275/40 ZR20, optional 275/35 ZR21
Cast Iron or optional Carbon-Silicon-Carbide (CSiC)
Front: 405 mm ventilated iron / 420 mm cross-drilled CSiC
Rear: 335 mm ventilated iron / 356 mm cross-drilled CSiC
Electronic Brake-force Distribution, ABS, Hydraulic Brake Assistance, Aquaplane detection, ESP - Two-mode ESP, enhanced brake & throttle regulation, increased cornering control. System can be disabled on driver command
Overall length: 189.2”
Overall width: 87.7” with mirrors 76.5” w/o
Overall height: 55.2”
Curb weight (lbs.): 5,445
0-60mph = 4.7 sec
0-100mph = 11.4 sec
Top Speed = 187 mph