Bentley GTC: Beauty and

the Beast

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If anyone ever needed proof that sex sells just look at the stunning Bentley GTC.

Photogenic, able to make sophisticated women gawk unashamedly, responsible for more shifting of assets than a bear market, the Bentley GTC convertible has the glamour, power, and must have appeal to melt the most platinum of credit cards. Indeed, lesser vehicles become invisible as this modern day sculpture moves into their sphere. For just under $200,000 you can own a feature laden Bentley that makes other convertibles quake in its wake. The Aston Martin, Jaguar, Mercedes, Masarati, and even the boxcar shaped Rolls Royce are second choices to the 552 horsepower, all wheel drive, V12, multiple turbocharged Bentley when it comes to combining incredible beauty and beastie power. Yes, affluent ones, this is what your inheritance is for and you had better ante up because they are in short supply.

Okay, someone actually took this convertible to 190 plus miles per hour to prove it could be done and it can be even with the top down. At twice the legal speed limit it is quiet enough to hear the screams of your passengers yelling for you to slow down. But that really isn’t the point of owning this Mother of all convertibles. It is the little things. Huge 16-inch front disc brakes, the largest of any car in the world, are at your call. An all wheel drive system makes a mockery out of rain and snow smeared roadways and the chassis is so stiff that Porsche cabriolets quake in envy when they aren’t in the shop. There is even ample trunk golf bag room in the trunk and a ski pass through. The windows and doors reseal themselves when closed to insure a tight fit and the convertible top is the quietest we have ever tested and only takes 25 seconds to lower and can be dropped while driving at speeds under 20 mph. The glass rear window is heated and there is a rear reading light built into the top. The steering wheel takes a full day for a worker to cloak in leather and all the switches and gauges are a joy to use. The air suspension can be raised for sharp driveways and you can adjust the handling from comfort to sport. There are two pop-up roll bars behind the rear seats in case of a mishap. You also get a variety of airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, and an electronic stability system besides ABS.

Driving the Bentley is a study in restraint. You have 479 pound-feet of torque at your disposal from just 1600 rpm to 6000 rpm. Even at 5000 pounds the GTC gets to 60 mph in less than five seconds, which is faster than almost every other car on the planet, let alone one with vibrating front seats. The six speed automatic can be controlled by shifter paddles in back of the steering wheel. This Bentley is always on call and such power corrupts absolutely. The performance is only surpassed by the sound of the engine. This Bentley has the greatest sounding exhaust system in the world. Period. Great joy in the morning, or anytime for that matter.

There is room for improvement in the Bentley. The rear seat passenger space is suited only for those who wear 2 or smaller shoes. The monitor that controls most functions is difficult to read in the sun and the cupholders aren’t easy to reach. With any luck you could use these negatives to get a better deal at your friendly local Bentley dealer. That is if there are any GTCs left. They were sold out a year in advance, but some may have shaken loose by now or what’s a heaven for.

Agile, fast, this formidable Bentley is even better handling than the GT coupe. It straightens canyons and flattens even  highways with tax deprived maintenance budgets. No question about it everyone looks better and drives better in a Bentley.

Before the drooling of this review gets St. Bernardish you should note that there is $3500 in gas taxes to pay and it seldom gets over 17 mpg in mixed driving. We did get over 20 in our trip to the Island View Nursery in Carpinteria, which, by the way, is the most beautiful one we have ever seen. Staked with all manner of orchids, trees, ornamental shrubs, and the most magnificent accent pieces from Asia, this nursery and its accompanying furniture store are worth the journey. It is so gorgeous at this nursery that they have even held weddings there. Just south of the Santa Barbara Polo Grounds, at 3376 Foothill Rd., Carpinteria, CA 93013 (805) 684-1296.

Mom’s view: What a tease. And we had this car on Mother’s Day no less. Elegant, fun, and just so in your face, I would love to own one. Make mine black as the white is too Disneyish for my wild side.

Dad’s view: I liked the performance of the Mercedes AMG CLK better and it had more room. But this Bentley is a lot more car. Its purchase can’t be justified unless you want to smile every time you hit the start button. The top can even be lowered using the key fob. When I die I want them to play a recording of the Bentley’s exhaust at my funeral just do my survivors know what I’m going to be driving.

Working woman’s view: Just like a designer dress, you know if it is an original, but do you need to pay that kind of price. For something that simply takes you from point A to point B it can’t be justified. However, if point B is the best valet equipped restaurant in town, it can’t be beat. The perfect dinner date.

College going male’s view: The GTC is environmentally insensitive, a prime example of conspicuous consumption, and a kick to the gut of the world’s non-renewable resources. Make mine white. Girls love it.

Family conference: A car for the ages. Pass it down to your children. Let them continue making the payments. For a list of all vehicle websites go to