This is a big car with long, heavy passenger doors that stretch well beyond a 4.0m span when fully opened. (The current Range Rover’s equivalent ‘door span’ is 3.9m.) Even beyond them, everything you interact with feels weighty and solid, engendering that Bentley-typical hefty, uncompromising sumptuousness in every detail.
In the V8 S, fluted front sport seats are upholstered in two-tone leather and Dinamica ‘suede’, with ‘S’ emblems stitched into the headrests. The height at which they seat you is typical of Bentley’s approach in as much as it’s just about low enough, but so easily accessible and comfortable.
Neck warmers, ventilation and massage functions, plus powered adjustable headrests, side bolsters and cushion length elements, were all fitted to our test car as part of the optional Front Seat Comfort Specification (£3275). While it’s perhaps a slight liberty to charge extra for such things in a car like this, you can’t imagine Crewe builds many cars that don’t have them.
There is much digital technology in front of you, counting the 12.3in touchscreen infotainment system, a digital instrument screen and the optional head-up display and night vision system. But Bentley’s mastery continues to be how cleverly it’s all wrapped and presented, so as not to intrude when you want a simpler and more traditional mood of travel. You’ll be surprised how often you feel like rotating away that infotainment screen and admiring the car’s extra centrally mounted instruments instead; or else, just more of its lovely open-pore walnut.
The GTC’s expensive material feel disappointed none of our testers. Its cool tactile metallised column stalks and centre console switchgear attracted particular praise, really inviting interaction and lifting the cabin ambience comfortably above what you might find from German or Italian premium brands.
For practicality, the GTC is a four-seater. It’s perhaps not suitable for four fully grown adults like the old Arnage-based Azure once was, but growing children can certainly enjoy an open-top ride in the back, so long as they’re not exposed to the elements for too long. (Shelter and protection are better up front.)
The GTC V8 S’s 12.3in infotainment system is a mark of the completeness of Bentley’s modern luxury product execution – and, of course, what it gains from being part of the Volkswagen Group. There is a gulf in sophistication between this and the antiquated Mercedes tech you get in an Aston Martin.
Bentley’s system is touchscreen-operated only, and perhaps a little behind some in its voice recognition capabilities. Thankfully, it’s very easy to operate, with a column of scrollable menu icons nearest the driver for quick-fire top-level navigation. A cursor on one of the steering wheel spokes wouldn’t go amiss. But such is the system’s usability that you hardly notice it’s missing, and having plenty of physical menu shortcut buttons just below, and separate blower controls, helps too.
Bentley’s Bang & Olufsen premium audio system sounded good in the car, if a little over-processed, and perhaps not quite like the full 1600W.