Making its world debut this week at the Auto China Expo in Beijing is the Bentley GTC four-seater convertible. Like the new Continental Coupé, the sharper radii and more 'planted' stance of the new model give it a more aggressive presence than its somewhat understated predecessor, while a more powerful six-litre, twin-turbocharged W12 engine and new QuickShift transmission give it the muscle to live up to that promise.
Quoted power is up from 410 to 423kW and torque from 650 to 700Nm, whether running on petrol, E85 biofuel or any combination of the two, and Bentley says it'll do 0-100 in 4.8 seconds, 0-160 (100mph in the old language) in 10.9 seconds and 314km/h flat out - bearing in mind that this is a luxury liner weighing 2495kg ready to go.
Wider track, front and rear, sharper steering and retuned suspension provide a sportier ride, while a 40:60 rear-biased torque split on the all-wheel drive system, rather than 50:50 as before, reduces understeer when powering out of bends and provides for better modulation of line and attitude by 'throttle steering.'
New fabrication techniques produce aluminium front wings without seams or welds, to create that 'coachbuilt' look. 20” rims are now standard, with three styles of 21” rims - a first for the GTC - available as options.
There's now even more rear legroom in the hand-crafted cabin, with soft-touch leather trim, an extensive range of wood veneers, cool-touch metals and deep-pile carpets. There are 17 standard leather colours with six colour split combinations, and a range of seven veneers, to choose from.
The multi-layered fabric hood has an acoustic glass rear window and there are additional sound-absorbing under-body panels, so that the convertible is just a quiet as the coupe with its roof up - and that's very quiet.
Add to that new storage compartments, touch-screen infotainment, automatic seat-belt presenters and a system that blows warm air on to the necks of the driver and front passenger, and you can understand why Bentley chairman Wolfgang Dürheimer said at Beijing:
“The GTC has always been the most emotional model in the Continental range and a showcase for Bentley design. With its tailored soft top, the GTC is a British convertible true to those classic Bentleys of the past.
“However, the technology, performance and craftsmanship invested in this model means we are setting new standards for the Bentley convertible driver.”