Bentley doesn’t build barebones supercars, it specialises in performance wrapped in a layer of indulgent luxury. That’s why the development goal for the new Bentley Continental Supersports was to create the world’s fastest four seat grand tourer.
There’s no intensive weight saving, no stripped down interior, no missing rear seats or door cards - the Continental Supersports is as plush and bespoke as any other member of the Continental family can be.
It also meets its goal of being the world’s fastest four seater with a top speed of 336 km/h for the coupe just topping the previous record holder, the Ferrari GTC4Lusso - which is no easy feat for something that weighs over 2.2 tonnes.
Vehicle Style: High-performance coupe
Price: $569,522 (coupe) $626.474 (convertible) plus on-roads
Engine/trans: 522kW/1017Nm 6.0-litre 12cyl turbo petrol | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 15.7-15.9 l/100km l/100km | Tested: 16.9 l/100km
As the pinnacle of the Bentley Continental range, the Supersports takes the very best of the Continental Speed and previous limited edition GT3-R and melds them into one impressive package.
With 522kW and 1017Nm of torque, the Supersports is more powerful than both, and with 420mm carbon ceramic front brakes it runs the biggest rotors of that kind available, essential for a car that can hit 336 km/h and weighs 2280kg
Unlike the first generation Continental Supersports, this model doesn’t get a widened track as that’s something now built into the entire Continental range. It also doesn’t get a stripped down interior, instead customer demand has seen four seats and full leather remain part of the standard features list.
It does get unique lightweight 21-inch alloy wheels, modified turbochargers and intercoolers, torque vectoring all-wheel drive, and the staggering ability to hit 100 km/h from standstill in just 3.5 seconds as a coupe, or 3.9 seconds for the convertible.
Interested buyers best be quick though with just 710 units to be built, matching the car’s 710PS power output. Bentley invited TMR to the Supersports’ launch in Portugal to find out more.
- Standard Equipment: Leather trimmed seats, dash, doors, and headliner (on coupe), dual-zone climate control, powered adjustable front seats and steering column, dark-tinted front and rear lights, keyless entry and start, carbon fibre front splitter, rear spoiler, side skirts, rear diffuser and bonnet vents, 21-inch lightweight forged alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation with Google maps, USB and SD inputs, six-CD/DVD changer, 30GB hard drive, Bluetooth connectivity, eight-speaker audio (optional 11-speaker Naim audio)
- Cargo Volume: 358 litres (cope), 260 litres (convertible)
Although it may be devastatingly fast, the Continental Supersports maintains an entirely first class cabin.
Almost everything you see or touch is leather covered, and if it isn’t leather then it’s probably a real metal finish. Or carbon fibre, which is a new chequered carbon fibre finish, inlaid with the Supersports name. But it’s just one 10 veneers on offer.
The Supersports also introduces a three-tone colourway for the interior, available in any of the Continental's 17 shades of leather.
All Supersports also come with a unique leather and Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel with centre marker, and matching gear shifter. There’s also an Alcantara headliner in the coupe with a leather bow-line running from front to rear
And just how comfortable is a 300-plus km/h living room on wheels? As comfortable as you’re ever likely to find. Even after a three hour stint there wasn’t a single part of me that needed to get out of the car and stretch.
The seats are wide, and slightly firm, but the quilted leather trim itself is supple and the seat support just right - even moreso when fitted with the optional massaging seat package.
There’s some interesting ergonomic quirks that Bentley refers to as ‘traditional’ things like indicator stalks that are nowhere near where you’d expect them to be and gearshift paddles that feel a mile away from the steering wheel, but those are only small issues.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12, 522kW/1017Nm
- Transmission: Eight-speed hydraulic automatic, rear-biased all wheel drive
- Suspension: Adaptive self-levelling air suspension, double wishbone front, trapezoidal-link independent rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel carbon ceramic disc brakes, 420mm front, 356mm rear
- Steering: Speed-sensitive power steering, 11.3m turning circle
Detail changes to the Continental’s 6.0-litre W12 engine include redesigned turbochargers with a larger turbine (the ‘hot’ side of the turbo), an upgraded charge air cooling circuit, and a reworked engine management system to help it generate 522kW and 1017Nm, up from 472kW/840Nm in the Continental GT Speed.
To get that power down, the Supersports uses an all-wheel drive system with torque vectoring by brake, similar to the system used on the GT Speed but with bespoke operating parameters. The standing torque split is set at 40:60 front-to-rear but up to 60 percent of power can go to the front wheels, or 85 percent to the rears if required.
Bentley has also upped the attitude of the Supersports with a new exhaust systems and an engine management tune that creates a “rifle-fire” effect on downshifts. Unlike the very quiet standard model, the Supersports sounds downright grumpy from inside the coupe and all-out angry in the convertible with the roof down.
On Portuguese roads the Continental Supersports feels large in every dimension. On motorways that’s not really a problem, but through towns and on winding back roads the big wide Continental feels utterly selfish for the amount of space it occupies.
But, with adaptive air suspension adjustable through four modes it never feels rough or uncomfortable, simply blotting out rough roads and holding itself surprisingly level through bends.
Pop the eight-speed automatic into Drive and the Supersports will behave as politely as you’d expect from a large luxury car. Gear changes usually take place below 2500 rpm, pushed along by torque for a more subtle experience.
Pull the gear selector back into Sport and the transmission becomes a more complicit partner, holding gears longer and kicking down swiftly with just a slight push on the throttle generating even more of the Supersport’s luscious soundtrack.
Portugal’s Estoril race circuit was also at our disposal, not because the Supersports has been designed as a track car, but rather to give it the space to wind itself out.
Certainly there’s no hiding the mass, and to drive around the weight penalty a slow-in, fast-out approach is essential to keep the nose from pushing wide.
But pin the accelerator to the firewall and the Supersports seemingly forgets its size and charges toward the next corner like a rocket. The torque vectoring system can’t really be felt from the driver’s seat, but when it comes to keeping the Supersports in check, it’s invaluable
Those carbon ceramic brakes also play their part, washing off speed with brake pressure to spare while remaining cool and showing no signs of being overcome. The driver experience is heavily insulated however, in keeping with the GT ethos.
It may not be as pin-point accurate as something from Ferrari or Lamborghini, but the Supersports certainly won’t back down from a challenge, while maintaining an unflappable level of composure and comfort.
ANCAP Rating: The Bentley Continental range has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety Features: Dual front airbags, front seat side airbags, driver’s knee airbag, three-stage stability control, ABS brakes tyre pressure monitoring, reverse camera
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Service intervals are set every 12 months or 16,000km, whichever occurs first. Service pricing may vary depending on conditions, consult your local dealer for service and maintenance pricing.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Simply can’t be without twelve cylinders and 1000Nm? Then the Mercedes-AMG S 65 Coupe fits the bill nicely, though it’s down on power considerably and lacks all wheel drive, but for plushness the heavy-hitting Benz coupe and convertible flagships is about as opulent as you’ll find.
Every bit as customisable, and unmistakably British, the Rolls-Royce Wraith coupe and Dawn convertible focus less on dynamic prowess and more on “waftability”. Some may find the styling polarising, but this is Rolls at its most modern.
The shooting brake styling offers something unique in its class, and the unmistakable wail of its Italian V12 makes the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso an eye-catching alternative. Driver focussed, but strangely practical, this is as close as Ferrari will ever come to a family car.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
When Bentley first revived the Supersports name in 2009 (a take on the 1925 Super Sport moniker) the finished product was very different from this version - more focussed on speed than comfort.
At the demands of buyers this new generation is one that can be shared with friends, with four seats and the the same exquisitely detailed interior as other members of the Continental GT range.
Time behind the wheel reveals a car that is fast, fluid, and hugely capable. Thrillingly fast when required but serenely comfortable at the same time, it is a true Grand Tourer if ever there was one.
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