Bang, not a whimper / #2017
/ IGNITION / New Cars / #2017-Bentley-Continental-GT
The new Continental GT looms. So Bentley has powered-up the old one… Words Dan Prosser
Having been launched way back in 2003, the Bentley Continental GT is due for replacement next year. With close to 60,000 cars sold during those 14 years the heavyweight coupé has been a huge success for Bentley so, rather than let the model fade away with a whimper, Crewe has instead produced the fastest and most powerful version yet. In fact, the new Continental Supersports is the most potent roadgoing Bentley full stop, its twin-turbocharged #W12
engine having been wound up to a titanic 700bhp. The Supersports badge was revived in 2009 for a run of 1800 special edition models, but this latest version will be more exclusive still, with only 710 set to be built across coupé and convertible body styles. With a list price of £212,500 the Supersports coupé, tested here, costs £43,600 more than the erstwhile range-topping model, the W12 Speed.
In keeping with its king-of-the-swingers status the Supersports is the most aggressivelooking Continental GT yet, its new front splitter and rear diffuser, both in carbonfibre, lending a more menacing look. The ungainly rear spoiler can, thankfully, be deleted.
The 6.0-litre W12 has been reworked for the Supersports with new intake and exhaust systems, bigger turbochargers and strengthened main and conrod bearings. The 750lb ft torque figure is available from 2000rpm, giving a vast, tabletop torque curve and enormous straightline performance: Bentley quotes 0-60mph in 3.4 seconds and a 209mph top speed. There’s so much power and torque at your disposal that the force of acceleration seems to be entirely unrelated to engine or road speed, gear, incline, load or any other of the variables that normally impede a car’s performance. The Supersports just fires itself at the horizon regardless.
As amusing as that trick might be, it isn’t what makes this the best #12-cylinder
Continental GT yet. Instead, it’s the combination of gargantuan performance, longdistance refinement and the surprisingly fleetfooted agility that make it such an outstanding Bentley. The four-wheel drive system and chassis settings are carried over from the Speed and, despite its 2280kg kerbweight, the Supersports is very good to drive on a twisting road, with its light, direct steering, very taut body control and a neutral chassis balance.
Some of that weight-defying agility can be attributed to the car’s torque-vectoring-by-braking system, borrowed from the 2014 GT3-R special edition, which shuffles torque between the four wheels to where it can be used most effectively. Without it, the Supersports would feel heavier and flat-footed.
What’s harder to reconcile with the winged ‘B’ on its nose is the Supersport’s raucous titanium exhaust system, which emits such violent pops and cracks on downshifts that you wonder if the entire thing isn’t being dragged along the road behind you.
There isn’t anything subtle about the Continental Supersports and some will doubtless find its styling and soundtrack crass, but, thanks to its vast turn of speed and total indomitability in all conditions, this is a high-performance Bentley of the highest order.