2012 Bentley Continental GTC
Designing a convertible poses challenges to any manufacturer, since lopping off the roof creates structural issues not present in coupes or sedans. If you’re uber-luxury car maker Bentley, whose customers expect a certain level of refinement, those challenges are only amplified.
Bentley released the second generation of its Continental GT
Coupe earlier this year, and a new Continental GTC
is just about to hit the market. When designing the new convertible, Bentley looked to improve the product in every way possible.
The new chassis and body structure blends steel, aluminum, composites and magnesium to create what Bentley describes as the stiffest convertible body in the world. If numbers are your thing, Bentley measures the torsion of the new GTC’s body-in-white at an impressive 29 Hz.
Reducing weight and contributing to the car’s solid feel are a trunk lid and tonneau cover that blend a composite skin with a cast magnesium inner panel. Front fenders are aluminum, manufactured using a process that heats the material to 1022 degrees F (550 degrees C) before using air pressure to form the complex shape.
As Automotive Engineering Online explains, the process is so complex that it’s not practical for mass-produced automobiles, but Bentley’s low production volumes (and high retail price) allow more latitude in production methods.
Inside, the GTC uses a three-layer cloth top that’s designed to seal tight at speeds up to 211 miles per hour. Windows are double-glazed and noise isolating, so the GTC is about as quiet on the road as the Continental GT Coupe.
The GTC’s engine gets a bump in power as well, from 552 horsepower in the previous model to 567 horsepower in the latest model. The all wheel drive system is revised, too, and now sends 60 percent of the torque to the rear wheels, compared to 50 percent last year.
While Bentley automobiles
may be beyond the reach of most of us, it’s good to know that there’s a justifiable reason for their steep price tags.