Bentley Continental Supersports

The Bentley Continental Super Sports evolved from the Continental GT which was launched in 2003. This was the first car that had been wholly designed and built after the takeover by Volkswagen; and any doubts that that company could keep up with the standards that previous real Bentleys (by this I mean non – Rolls-Royce clones) were dispelled. This was a supercar, and no mistake. It is also as close as Bentley is ever likely to get to being a real bargain!

Previous manufacturers of Bentleys seem to pay just lip service to the idea of economical production. Hand assembly is all very well but it can lead to very expensive cars! This was the first Bentley in history to be built using mass production techniques, although hand craftsmanship was still being used where the finest possible finish wa required. The economies achieved the desired effect though; at it's launch it cost around half the price of the Continental R, making it available to a much wider number of potential buyers.

Not that this was a cheap car; far from it. The exterior was beautifully designed, and the interior was luxuriously finished with more electronic gadgets – sorry, driving aids – than even the most demanding driver could expect.

It was no slouch either. The 6 litre W12 engine featured a twin turbocharger pushing out 552 brake horsepower with a top speed of just a shade under 200 mph and acceleration from nought to 60 in 4.8 seconds. All this meant that petrol consumption would be horrific, right? Wrong. How does 23 mpg for combined usage sound?

Would it really be possible to make a sportier luxury car? Absolutely; although there would have to be some sacrifices.

The Continental Supersports was launched in 2009 as a lighter and more powerful (yes that is possible) version of the GT. The engine had been tweaked to produce 621 brake horsepower; and the interior had been stripped of much of the luxury to help cut down weight. The rear seat disappeared completely; and the cushy front seats were replaced by carbon fibre sports bucket seats. Interior trim was lightened, with walnut replaced by more carbon fibre.

The engine, which could run for the first time for a Bentley car on either petrol or biofuel, could propel this car up to 204 mph with nought to 100 kilometres per hour within 3.7 seconds, provided that the driver could stand the G forces!

To stop a car like this from the sort of speed it could get up to takes superb brakes; the Supersports had 17 inch carbon ceramic discs all round, which were the biggest on a production car ever.

At the time of launch this was far and away the fastest production car that Bentley had ever built; and many experts considered it to be the best handler as well thanks to a redesigned active shock absorbing system, and high performance tyres by Pirelli on 20 inch alloy wheels. To help keep it on the road there was a retractable spoiler that automatically deployed as soon as the car reached 50 mph.

Did it sell well? Six months before the car was due to be available for delivery there were already 3200 deposits for the GT! The Supersports was only ever intended for a limited run and was discontinued in 2011, although a convertible version was available between 2010 and 2011.

Next: The Bentley Mulsanne

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