THE D_TRB REVIEW: Bentley Continental Supersports
Behind the wheel of the fastest road-going Bentley ever, the 209mph (and 700bhp) Supersports
One minute you’re doing the Times crossword in the drawing room of Downton Abbey, soothing chamber music wafting across the hearth. Next minute an earthquake opens up a fault line the size of the Danube right beneath the foundations and your stomach tries to exit through your mouth as you plummet directly to the centre of the earth.
That’s what it feels like when you push pedal to pile in the new Continental Supersports, the fastest road-going Bentley ever. Capable of zero to 62mph in 3.5 seconds and a colossal 209mph flat out, the SS offers genuine supercar performance, but it’s the fact that it’s all served up with such serenity that makes it all the more incredible. There’s not a supercar in the world that offers this kind of refinement, or another 2.3-tonne four-seat luxury behemoth that pulls off going fast so well.
Everything about the Supersports involves a colossal number, from the £213k/$293k price to the 500 litres per second of air the engine breathes in at full chat. Bentley spent two years perfecting a package that offers 77bhp more grunt than an already rapid GT Speed, and more performance than 2015’s limited run GT3-R. There are new turbochargers and a revised intake to liberate 700bhp (710PS) and 750b ft (1017Nm) from the 6.0-litre W12. And, to capture it all, carbon discs all round, the 420mm fronts of which are claimed to be the world’s largest on a production car, and capable of withstanding 1000C. That’s the temperature of molten lava.
And probably not far off the temperature of the front tyres after we’d finished our laps at the old Estoril Formula 1 track in Portugal. Better suited to a Boxster than a Bentley, this circuit’s medley of tight corners only served to cruelly highlight just how much mass you’re trying to tame. Even with brake-based torque vectoring making its first appearance on a W12 Conti giving some turn-in assistance, and 40kg saved from the GT Speed’s kerb weight, this isn't a car you can take liberties with. Get sloppy with your braking and turn-in points and things quickly get messy. That’s not to say you can’t hustle it. Stay smooth, stay focused on the timing of your every input and you’re left with respect for what it can do. But not much inclination to keep lapping.
On the road though, the only place that really matters, it’s a different story. The titanic straight-line performance that shrank Estoril’s long back straight expands overtaking opportunities. They’re everywhere in a car like this, and when you pull back in after dispatching five cars and lift off the gas for that right hander ahead, the W12 pops and bangs like a two-stroke grand prix bike whose voice has just broken.
There’s some pitching under hard braking, and the steering is pretty leisurely by modern standards. But test the Supersports with a left-right transition on a decent road, and it really holds together. There’s a precision to the steering and a quality of body control you didn’t expect. And the kind of refinement you absolutely did, but can’t usually find allied to this kind of performance. It cruises silently, glides over imperfections and seats four. This is still a Bentley.
This isn’t the best-looking Conti, even minus the trashy two-tone point option or optional fixed rear spoiler. A GT Speed is less fussy, still hugely quick and costs £44k less. But if you have deep pockets and want a Bentley coupe (or convertible) that represents the best of everything Crewe can do, this is it.