► The most extreme Bentley Continental yet
► 700bhp and 750lb ft, 3.4sec 0-62mph
► Bending physics comes at a price: £212,500
Whatever you do, don’t think of this Bentley Continental Supersports as a Vauxhall Nova Spin for gullible squillionaires. It’s way more than a stickered-up run-out special, with Bentley having spent two years developing it and putting, according to product chief Paul Jones, ‘everything we know about Continental into this car’.
So what do they know? 700bhp from the 6.0 W12 twin turbo to start with. 750lb ft of torque. 209mph. Four-wheel drive, torque vectoring, heavily reworked suspension.
And the result of all this knowledge? A car that is so fast it beats the 632bhp W12 Speed, no slouch itself in a straight line, to 100mph from standstill by nearly two seconds, hitting the mark in just over seven.
So after some new stickers and more power, what else has been done?
There’s a strengthened cranktrain with new con-rods and main bearings, and a softer torque converter to allow the two new, bigger turbos to spool up more effectively before take-off. To deliver enough air for the turbos to operate, a complete re-plumbing job was needed, while new high-capacity coolers had to be fitted too.
Also, the front springs are 45% stiffer, the rears 33, and the anti-roll bar 53, while there are new splitters and diffusers, which vary depending on whether you have the questionable rear carbon wing, or one without, or a convertible. And it has the torque vectoring system from a V8 GT3-R, the first time it’s been fitted to a 12 cylinder Bentley. It also gets the 17in diameter carbon brakes from a GT3-R – the biggest on any production car.
On top of all these changes are some new trims, such as the chequerboard carbon dash, a choice of one, two or three colour hide combinations, new steering wheel and seats (properly adjustable rather than the buckets of the 2009 Supersports) as well as the usual carbon trinkets on the bodywork. Essentially, you start with £212,500 for the Supersports to look like a common or garden Conti, or you can keep splurging to give Kahn a run for their money in the tastelessness stakes. Up to you.
So it’s a just a big old boat with lots of power?
Blimey, it’s quick. Monstrously so, in fact. I left my phone stood up by the gear lever the first time I floored it, and it ended up in the back seats. Thing is, with four-wheel drive and suspension that, while stiffer, is still excellent at keeping the Conti softly connected to the road surface, and eight quick-changing gears, it gets to high speed at a remarkable rate with the least fuss possible from a car doing such obscene things.
But the interesting thing is that you can feel the four-wheel drive having to work harder than ever before in a Continental, trying to lay all that power down. It does it though, even in wet conditions, and then these vast brakes do a pretty solid job of stopping it, once they’ve warmed up and gone through their woody phase. In the lighter V8 GT-R they feel like they could stop time itself but in the Supersports they are, like the drivetrain, closing in on the limits of their abilities.
Even through a corner, the Continental’s traditional weak spot, the Supersports is fairly useful, with the Torque Vectoring system braking the rear inside wheel to provide a pivot and dabbing the inside front on exit to avoid understeer. Brutally effective rather that balletic, it’s an extreme GT rather than sports car.
The silky W12 sounds relatively quiet even under heavy acceleration and so I would recommend you tick the X Specification pack that adds carbon mirrors, Supersports treadplates, black 21in alloy wheels and crucially, Akrapovic exhausts. These titanium exhausts (steel are standard) bang and thunder and cackle, especially in Sport mode and add a more suitable soundtrack. There’s no such thing as understatement in a car like this.
Bentley Continental Supersports 2017 verdict: less run-out, more balls-out
Like those posh establishment types who end up on the front cover of the Sunday tabloids, the Bentley Continental Supersports is a crazy beast, hidden behind a veneer of respectability. It will cover ground at a speed few cars can match, and takes the Continental onto a wholly different plane of performance.