Bentley Continental Supersports (2009) review

Published:01 October 2009

Bentley Continental Supersports (2009) review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
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  • 4 out of 5

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

What’s this? Bentley’s answer to the Renault R26R? Well they’re not exactly rivals, but the concept is similar: more performance, less weight and much less seating thanks to the deletion of the rear chairs. And to save everyone else having to peer into your car to confirm it’s a Supersports, the exterior features extra air intakes in a redesigned bumper, more vents in the bonnet, different tailpipes and arches flared by 50mm.

And just how much less weight and how much more performance does the Bentley Continental Supersports have?

Ditching the back seats and fitting lightweight fixed-rake fronts contributed massively to a 110kg weight reduction. Impressed? You’ll be less so when you hear that this whale still weighs 2240kg, over a tonne more than the Renault. Okay, that comparison is stupid, but you get the picture – this is still a grotesquely heavy car.

Which only makes the rate at which can devour tarmac all the more gob smacking. The standard GT musters 552bhp from its twin-turbo W12, the more performance oriented Speed, 600bhp, but the Supersports pushes 621bhp to both axles through a six-speed automatic gearbox. Zero to 62mph occupies just 3.9sec, down from 4.5sec for the Speed, while the top speed climbs fractionally to 206mph.

This engine is all about torque though, and there’s 590lb ft of crank-writhing action available almost all the way from 1800-6000rpm. This is now a truly rapid car, ducking below 9sec to the ton and emitting a deep bassy growl that’s part big band, part distant machine gun fire as gears slip home in half the time normally needed.

Going is one thing, but turning and stopping quite another when you weigh 2.2 tonnes...

That’s why the Superpsorts is the only Bentley to feature standard carbon brakes (they’re normally around £10k as an option), why the track is wider and why there are bespoke 20-inch Pirelli boots under each corner. Contrary to what you might expect, the Superpsorts not only turns in smartly but rides with real compliance. You can even drift it a little if you’ve got enough space thanks to the recalibarated stability system and the body control is deeply impressive given the heft.

>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Bentley Continental Supersports drive

Is it exempt from the London congestion charge?

Very droll. Owners should consider themselves lucky not to pay £50 a day to drive into London given the woeful 388g/km of CO2 spewed from those new oval tailpipes. To be fair that is an improvement on the 396g/km the standard car emits and fuel consumption improves by an inconsequential 0.3mpg to 17.3mpg. The big news (for Bentley, anyway) is that the Supersports can run on an E85 ethanol/petrol mix thanks to an upgraded fuel system. Because the ethanol bit comes from a renewable source, well-to-wheel emissions are said to be reduced by 70%. But when did you last see an E85 pump? E85 is hard to come by and most owners will just fill up on dirty old 98 octane.

How many? How much?

It’s not a limited production model according to Bentley, although the recession, impaired practicality and £163,000 price (£20k more than the Speed) means the reality will be quite different.

Verdict

You can dress a granny in hot pants but that won’t make her 25 again. Back seats or no back seats, this Continental is still too heavy, still too thirsty and still out of step with the times. Next year’s all-new alloy-bodied Conti replacement can’t come soon enough. But in the meantime, the rather pointless Supersports is the best driving Bentley yet, a luxurious British GT with real supercar performance.

>> Click 'Add your comment' below and let us know what you think of the new Bentley Continental Supersports

Specs

Price when new: £163,000
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 5998cc 48v V12, 621bhp @ 6000rpm, 590lb ft @ 1700-5600rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Performance: 3.9sec 0-62mph, 204mph, 17mpg, 388g/km CO2
Weight / material: 2240kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4804/1945/1380mm

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  • Bentley Continental Supersports (2009) review
  • Bentley Continental Supersports (2009) review

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

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