Rolling onto the scene in Frankfurt, the 2012 Bentley Continental GTC takes over from its Gen I predecessor as the thoroughly refreshed open-air running mate to the Continental GT coupe, itself redone for 2011. This new GTC shares much in the way of appearance with its hard-topped kin, as well as benefiting from similar enhancements to its underlying structure, powertrain and cabin appointments.

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Like the Continental GT, the sheetmetal on the new GTC has a more sculpted and more muscular flavor. It's highlighted by a bolder front fascia treatment that also includes Bentley's latest jewel-look headlamps with LED daytime running lights and significant tail tweaks that bring a lightweight composite decklid and revamped taillamps. Crowned by a smartly styled, multi-layer power soft top that features an acoustic-glass rear window, the 2012 Continental GTC rides on standard 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 275/40 Pirelli P Zero performance tires but offers a 21-inch upgrade wheel shod with 275/35 rubber.

A wide selection of rich leather, polished wood veneers and lightweight alloy trims set a properly luxurious tone for the GTC's hand-tailored, four-place cabin. Here, too, the look and feature set parallels that of the Continental GT, but the recasting also increases rear-seat legroom to more usable levels and brings a Bentley-designed Neck Warmer system that encourages top-down motoring even under cooler conditions.

Complementing its cosmetic changes and new creature features, the 2012 Bentley Continental GTC also boasts a more expansive dynamic envelope. Output of its 6.0-liter/twin-turbo W12 flex-fuel engine rises from 552 to 567 horsepower -- same as its counterpart in the GT. Torque also jumps by 37 pound-feet to 516 twist units. Backed by a new QuickShift six-speed automatic transmission that cuts cog-change intervals by up to 50 percent, this force-fed engine can hustle the 5,501 pound GTC from zero-to-60 mph in just 4.5 seconds and on to a max velocity of 195 mph. Wider front and rear track dimensions, quicker steering, a retuned suspension and recalibrated electronic stability control system work with the car's standard all-wheel-drive setup that now features a more pronounced 40/60-percent rear torque bias to further elevate the car's fun-to-drive index.

Wolfgang Dürheimer, Chairman and Chief Executive, Bentley Motors, introduced this latest member of the lineup by noting: "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 pure British convertible true to those classic Bentleys of the past. However, the technology, performance and overall design excellence invested in this model means that we are now writing a new chapter for the Bentley convertible driver."

The 2012 Bentley Continental GTC is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. later this year. Preliminary pricing calls for this elegant drop-top to open at $212,800.

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