So, when we come across something like the Bentley Continental Supersports, a sick two-door ride that's heavier than some SUVs but can still smoke a Corvette Stingray Grand Sport to 60 mph, we're like, "What the heck?!" It's like our senses are telling us it's doing some kind of magic trick, but our brains are like, "Nah, that's just some sped-up video or something."
This feeling of disbelief only gets stronger when we take the Supersports out on the roads around Lisbon, Portugal or on the track at Estoril (a spot where they used to race Formula 1 cars). Even though the Supersports can hit 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds (which is the same as a 707-hp Dodge Charger Hellcat and the previous fastest Bentley, the GT3-R), there's no smoke or fishtailing or anything. You just hit the gas and the all-wheel-drive coupe takes off like a rocket. Bentley says it can hit a top speed of 209 mph, which makes it the fastest Bentley ever and the fastest four-seater car in the world.
If you're digging the Supersports vibe, you can get it as a coupe or a convertible (which has a top speed of 205 mph). They're only making 710 of these bad boys, and 250 of them are coming to America. The first coupes will be 2017 models, and the convertibles will be available in 2018. Oh, and if you're wondering about the name, "Supersports" was also used for a Continental model from 2009-2012, and they made 1,900 of those. The original "Super Sport" was a 1925 model that could top 100 mph with its 3.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The new Supersports has a 6.0-liter W-12 engine that puts out 633 horsepower. The engineers made some tweaks to the turbochargers, intake system, and fuel injection to get it up to that level.
The exhaust system has been revised to allow for freer breathing and a fun crackling backfire during downshifts. The eight-speed automatic transmission has also been upgraded with a quicker torque converter and big paddles for manual shifting. While the paddles are a bit awkwardly placed, the console-mounted shifter is a great alternative. Plus, the automatic programming is so good that even the GT3 racing team says there's no advantage to choosing your own gears.
The big 12-cylinder engine is a real standout feature with its massive 750 lb-ft of torque and smoothness. It's also impressively quiet and smooth in light use, but press down on the pedal and you'll get a bass-note roar that's authoritative. Of course, given the price tag of around $300,000, most people will probably hear the Supersports from outside anyway. The exhaust crackle during downshifts is definitely entertaining.
As for fuel economy, well, let's just say it's not the car's strong suit. With an EPA city rating of 11 mpg, Bentley owners will be spending a lot on premium-grade gasoline. But hey, when you're driving a car this amazing, who's really thinking about fuel efficiency anyway?
Apart from the drivetrain, the distinguishing feature that sets the Supersports apart from its Continental predecessors is the brake-based torque-vectoring system, which has been adapted and improved upon from the race-car-inspired GT3-R. While the GT3-R was a more dedicated performance model with a lighter twin-turbo V-8 engine and only two seats, making this W-12 edition turn as well as it goes is a greater challenge, given its mass. The coupe form weighs more than 5000 pounds and the convertible weighs more than 5400. Additionally, the coupe’s front wheels are burdened with 58 percent of the total weight.
Despite the all-wheel-drive system sending a default 60 percent of the torque to the rear (variable between 35 and 85 percent), nimbleness was never a characteristic of this car. However, by applying some braking force to the inside wheels when entering a corner, torque vectoring makes the Supersports turn in more promptly. While it may not be mistaken for a sports car that dives for an apex, this grand tourer can find that apex reliably. Lapping Estoril requires careful deliberation, with all braking done in a straight line, turning in late, and not touching the throttle until the exit point is lined up. Any other approach results in tire-squealing understeer. In typical circumstances, such as back roads and highways around Lisbon, the Supersports is fun and easy to maneuver in corners or when overtaking on narrow two-lanes. The Supersports is a suitable choice for the oligarch who wishes to make haste to their country retreat.
So, according to Bentley, the air-spring suspension tuning in the Supersports is a bit firmer than in a Continental Speed and it also rides a teensy bit lower. You can adjust the suspension across four different settings, from Comfort to Sport. But honestly, the differences between them are pretty small. Even in Sport mode, the ride is still super smooth and it seems like the suspension just flattens out bumps in the road instead of bouncing around.
Wow, the brakes on this GT are impressive! They use carbon-ceramic discs that are almost the size of a flying saucer, with 16.5-inch front rotors and 14-inch rear rotors, and eight-piston front calipers. The brakes did an amazing job of slowing down this heavy car, even from speeds of up to 150 mph. However, after four laps on the track, we did notice some smoke coming from the brakes. But to be fair, this car is meant for luxury cruising, not full-on track racing. The brake pedal has a softer feel than we're used to, but we didn't notice any fading during hard use. And what's even better, we didn't see any dust building up on the 21-inch forged-aluminum wheels, and there was no annoying squeal or grinding sound when braking. Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer really knows his stuff and made sure to engineer the brake pads to meet the needs of Bentley customers.
The Bentley's design has really stood the test of time, but it's fair to say that compared to some newer models like the Mercedes-AMG S65 coupe, it might seem a bit old-fashioned. That being said, the Continental Supersports definitely holds its own on those rare stretches of German autobahn where you can really let loose. It's not a self-driving car, though, so you'll need to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. The infotainment system is great for storing all your favorite music and videos, but the screen is a bit smaller than what you might expect from a luxury car these days.
When it comes to special editions, it's important to visually set them apart. That's why Bentley made some noticeable changes to the Supersports. For starters, they added a wing to the coupe's decklid along with a carbon-fiber splitter at the front and a rear diffuser. These changes help balance the aerodynamic lift at high speeds. However, if you don't plan on reaching 200 mph, you can choose to delete the wing. Other things that make the Supersports unique are the wheel design, black accents on the exterior, and carbon-fiber trim inside. We were pleasantly surprised by the glossy, checkered pattern on the door panels, but if that's not your style, you can choose from several wood veneers or quilted leather.
Bentley also offers a tri-tone upholstery option for the Supersports, which is a first in this model's history. It all comes down to the buyer's taste when it comes to mixing and matching from the standard array of 17 hues of leather. And if you're looking for immediate gratification, you'll be happy to know that roughly 50 percent of Bentley customers in the U.S. drive home in a car from the dealer's stock on the day of their first visit. So, if you're not into waiting, the Supersports is the perfect choice for you!