Ever since the first-generation Bentley Continental GT debuted, I've never been sure what to make of it. It's a Bentley, so its main focus is to be an extremely well-appointed luxury boat that will aid the well-heeled in escaping the unwashed, outside world of underfunded infrastructure. But the GT bit seems a little counterintuitive to that goal; it is indeed a grand tourer, but Bentley also touts that it's its more athletic option. How sporty could the 2022 Bentley Continental GTC Mulliner V8 really be at 5,147-plus pounds? Especially up against the likes of other high-end (well, not as high as Bentley) athletic European fare like the BMW M5 Competition.
Though, not long ago, we did get our first hint at how well the Continental GT mobs door-to-door against traditional GT3 heavyweights on the race track. There's definitely something to it that's worthy of FIA homologation, and as I found out recently, it all makes perfect sense. Even when a major structural component—like a whole friggin' roof—is removed.
Here's how well-fitted the GTC Mulliner wears its several hats, which, even after factoring in its astronomical pricing, is still a hell of a thing to behold.
2022 Bentley Continental GTC Mulliner V8 Specs
- Base price (as tested): $319,800 ($358,865)
- Powertrain: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 | 8-speed automatic | all-wheel drive
- Horsepower: 550 @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque: 568 lb-ft @ 2,000 to 4,500 rpm
- Curb weight: 5,147 pounds
- Seating capacity: 4
- Cargo volume: 8.3 cubic feet
- EPA fuel economy: 16 mpg city | 26 highway | 19 combined
- Quick take: Modern luxury decadence that can boogie down a twisty road.
- Score: 9/10
The 2022 Bentley Continental GTC Mulliner is a beast, even if it sports the brand's smaller engine. While a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 might sound a tad lacking compared to the Continental GT Speed's twin-turbo, 6.0-liter W12, it's more than enough for this coupe that really leans on the grand in grand touring.
The engine is a Volkswagen Auto Group staple, too, as it's the same engine found in Porsche Panamera GTS and Lamborghini Urus. Two tiny turbos sporting VW part numbers dump compressed air into the cylinder heads from inside the engine's V to produce 550 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque. This is similar to every other European twin-turbo 4.0-liter on the market, from Mercedes-AMG's own and Aston Martin's cars, as well as BMW's higher displacement 4.4-liter in the M5 and M8 Competition.
When bolted up to a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox with all-wheel drive, the GTC reaches 60 mph in just four seconds—in a 5,000-plus-pound convertible! The way it gets there, while exciting and utterly addictive, is thoroughly devoid of drama and instead exhibits nothing but confidence—even during unusually rainy SoCal conditions, it just took off. Despite the torque curve, rapid gear changes, and toned-down intake and exhaust noises, it felt closer to launching a heavy EV than any other internal combustion car that I've ever driven.
Thankfully, even though the Mulliner has extensive sound insulation to justify its name, you can still drop the windows, and the entire top, to hear its glorious soundtrack. When in Sport mode, the exhaust baffling loosened up and unleashed a bass-filled rumble that's lumpier than you'd expect from such a badge. The Britons are good at exhaust notes (the current Jaguar F-Type is a brilliant example), even when they're working with German components. The exhaust pipes also popped and crackled with reckless abandon in Sport—not exactly to my taste, but solid comedic value in a Bentley.
Then, its convertible part amplifies the soundtrack even further. The exhaust was thoroughly excellent with the top dropped, and so were its boost-building-and-dumping turbo noises, which were quite pronounced while driving along rock faces on my favorite twisty mountaintop roads. I never thought I'd write that diverter valve exhales could sound so deep and dignified, but it's true. Makes you wonder if this was taken into account by its engineers.
Tremendous Ride Quality At Any Lateral G Force
Situated underneath all four of the 2022 Bentley Continental GTC Mulliner's wheel arches is fully independent, double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension joined by a mix of adaptive dampers and air suspension. There are four drive modes that more than adequately support its all-rounder-ability, too: Custom, Comfort, B, and Sport. No matter which is selected, the Bentley rides quite nicely. It's more stiffly damped in Sport but still soaks up almost all of what California's famously crappy roads throw at it. You feel more, but then body roll is entirely extinguished as well.
Its only downside was the amount of body overhang in relation to its ride height—despite my best careful efforts, it occasionally lightly scraped its underbody plastics while rolling down driveways and over Los Angeles' dreadful drainage channels.
But still, the GTC's ride is dream-like in Comfort mode. It possesses some body roll yet maintains a high level of comfort and composure. Speed bumps in shopping center parking lots are barely felt, and the way it rolls up awkwardly graded driveways is pretty darn close to a big, off-road-ready SUV.
Even more dream-like were the Mulliner's sporting credentials: my perception was not prepared for how well this big beast took on fun roads. The all-wheel drive is always shuffling power between axles, but only sends up to 17% to the front wheels in Sport—just enough to ensure high-speed carving, yet also pull you through any canyon road's most technical features. Thing absolutely sailed through corners in a fashion that was akin to the lighter (though still hefty for its size) BMW M240i xDrive. There's so much grip, and the way it pulled its way out of corner exit was simply wondrous. To top it all off, its brilliant chassis shrugged off mid-corner bumps incredibly well, even if it exhibited a hearty amount of convertible cowl shake in the process.
Then, the Continental GTC's front end felt taut and direct for its size, and its steering, while vague, had excellent weight in all scenarios, and never lightened up too much at speed. Adding to its ability to seemingly, endlessly impress, its massive, 10-piston front and four-piston rear brakes were always up to the task. Add in its glorious power and wonderful symphony of twin-turbo V8 noise, and it was such a fun experience. It's rare that I laugh my head off while enjoying SoCal's fine stretches of mountaintop tarmac, but I just couldn't contain myself behind the wheel of the Continental GTC.
But its handing chops shouldn't be too surprising. As with its powertrain, the Continental GTC's Volkswagen MSB chassis is shared with the Porsche Panamera. When it comes to cross-brand platform sharing, this is one of the best examples of why it's very much a good thing—hand-assembled Bentley materials quality and comfort, VW/Audi engine technology (well, this could be debated), and Porsche chassis engineering. It's no wonder that the Bentley was selected for FIA GT3 homologation.
Whether I was looking as far down the road as possible at speed, or just tooling around town, the 2022 Bentley Continental GTC Mulliner had sense of occasion in spades. You always want to hop in and take it anywhere just to feel its prestigious interior materials, smell its rich, soft leather, and take advantage of every single creature comfort. Never before had parts runs to O'Reilly's been so relaxing.
Besides some exterior upgrades here and there, particularly its black 22-inch wheels and White Sand paint color, the Mulliner in its name is the reason for such extensive, entirely handcrafted cockpit luxury. Two leather hides adorn most of its surfaces, named Hot Spur and Beluga—oddly, the former didn't randomly break out into a soccer chant. The way it's stitched together is quite aesthetically pleasing to boot. In fact, Bentley boasts that 400,000 stitches string it all together, which is an impressive number of stitches but also feels like the sort of thing an automaker like, say, Porsche would boast about omitting in the alleged name of weight savings.
This is, however, a Bentley and every single surface and piece of switchgear had a pleasant, substantial feel to it, even the knob that you turn to change the drive mode. Then, the metal panel that houses all of the center console's switches was a thing of understated beauty, my only wish is that some cubic centimeters were devoted to a place to rest one's hand while cruising along, right near the prominently placed Breitling for Mulliner analog clock.
Though, its biggest touchpoint, the front seats, were even more impressive. Multiple massage modes combined with thorough all-electric adjustability, as well as heating, ventilation, and the ability to enjoy a warm breeze on the back of your neck to up the relaxation factor even further. This was much appreciated during the very rainy and cold week that I had with the Continental GTC.
When it comes to technology, I had no qualms with its infotainment screen and its Naim audio system thoroughly cranked. Despite being a coupe with a very small rear seat area, 18 speakers are crammed inside, along with two active bass transducers and a 2,200-watt, 20-channel amplifier. At one point I thought the engine was suffering a misfire, but no, the bass was just bumping the entire chassis despite having the volume comparatively low. As a nice bonus, in the center armrest compartment lives a wireless charging pad in a pouch—between wireless Apple CarPlay and the ability to tear into corners at high speed and not have a phone clunking around, this feature was much appreciated.
Driver aid-wise, the Bentley made dealing with draconian Southern California traffic much easier than most other luxury cars that I've reviewed. Radar cruise control was easy to toggle on and off and acted in a very smooth and stress-free manner, and complimented the GTC's ride, well-insulated soft top, and other substantial interior niceties incredibly well.
It All Comes at a Price
I could ramble all day about how impressive the 2022 Bentley Continental GTC is, but my tester reached a hearty price tag of $358,865. That's the complete opposite of many peoples' idea of good value, but then, it plays its luxury heritage strengths incredibly well, possesses excellent tech, and would impress anybody at how well it athletically rages through a twisty road.
As far as how that price is met, the options are eyebrow-raising. The cheapest is its wireless charging pad, which commands $390. Then, its Touring specification fetches $8,640, Mulliner Blackline exterior details cost $6,780, the Naim stereo hits $8,970, Mulliner welcome lighting that projects onto the ground costs $625, Mulliner solid and metallic interior materials command $7,660, and complete paint protection is $3,275. This reaches a total of $36,340 in options before a $2,725 destination charge, and $319,800 to get as base of a Mulliner creation as possible.
But then, Bentley knows its audience, and tacking on an entire BMW 230i (at sticker) might as well be adding an automatic transmission to an early 2000s econobox. One thing's for absolutely sure, though: anyone who has the means will not be disappointed.
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