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A twin-turbocharged W12 engine with monstrous thirst for fuel and air; an equally monstrous output. Stunning acceleration and a stupefying top speed. Leather and Alcantara wrapped around nearly everything in the cockpit; carbon-fiber trim covering everything else. A rear wing stolen from some Chevrolet Racing garage.
This is the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports. It’s a little bit outrageous and totally unnecessary. But the coolest Bentleys always have been.
Naturally, this Supersports -- the latest incarnation of a nameplate that traces its origin to the hairy 100-plus-mph 3 Litre speedsters of the mid-1920s -- has to push things further than its predecessor, which managed 621 hp, 590 lb-ft and a 204-mph top speed back in 2010. It’s not a quantum leap, but it’s one made without any compromises in refinement or reliability.
The new Supersports gets a fresh face and rear end, with a new carbon-fiber splitter up front and diffuser out back, but the combination of parts under the skin will be familiar to Continental aficionados. From the Continental GT3-R, itself a tribute to the marque’s crop of GT3 racers, the Supersports borrows a torque-vectoring system. But it trades the GT3-R’s snarling V8 for the flagship W12, here reworked and retuned for 700 hp and 750 lb-ft.
A classic profile.>
In case you were concerned that your Continental wasn't quite assertive enough, the Supersports coupe adds this rear wing.
“This is not a track car” was something we heard more than once, and from the Bentley people to the trio of real, live Bentley Boys -- racers Guy Smith, Maxime Soulet and Andy Soucek -- who joined us for the launch.
Yet there we were, flogging (well, something approaching flogging, anyway) the Supersports around the Autodromo Fernanda Pires da Silva, better known as Estoril, a tight, technical 13-turn 2.599-mile circuit not far from Lisbon. In its prime, Estoril was the site of career-defining victories by noted gentlemen racers Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna; in more recent years, it has played host to Valentino Rossi and other top-level motorcycle jockeys.
Notice that none of those guys were doing their thing behind the wheel of a 2.5-ton luxury supercoupe (5,027 pounds, to be precise; 5,412 for the convertible). The Bentley’s front seats alone probably weigh more than a hypernimble MotoGP bike, which only makes the weight-shaving carbon-fiber engine cover all the more hilarious an option.
Despite the terrific output, the torque vectoring, the largest front brakes offered on any production car -- 16.53-inch cross-drilled carbon-ceramic discs, as big as those on the upcoming Bugatti Chiron, reinforced by 14.01-inchers in the rear -- and yes, that big rear wing, the car’s impressive handling and cornering abilities have their limits. There comes a point at which you simply cannot beat physics.
Any car on the track is, by our definition, a track car.
At speed, the Continental Supersports doesn’t particularly like sudden direction changes. Fail to slow down enough before a corner and the car will push, though this predictable understeer is probably better than the alternative. The massive brakes take a moment to do their job -- holding your hand near the rotors (but not too near) after a few laps, feeling the waves of heat radiating off them, demonstrates just how hard they work to arrest this car’s locomotive-like momentum.
Just as Bentley said: This is not a track car. Which isn’t to say that the Continental Supersports cannot be driven quickly if you come at it the right way.
You could struggle to change the course of a sledgehammer as it falls, but it’s exhausting, not to mention a dumb way to use the tool; likewise, fighting this car is counterproductive. The trick, as one of the Bentley Boys -- Soulet, we think -- explained it, is to keep it as smooth as possible on the tarmac.
Racing 101, sure, but especially relevant here on something this powerful and this heavy. Take time to let the car settle after any driver inputs, and don’t try to saw your way through corners. Trust the torque vectoring system to help you stayed glued to a line, always with the goal of lining up a clean exit. That way, with the car pointed in the right direction, you’ll be primed to jump on the throttle and wind up the W12 as soon as possible to take advantage of its monstrous power.Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 1Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 2Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 3Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 4Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 5Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 6Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 7Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 8Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 9Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 10Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 11Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 12Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 13Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 14Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible Photo 15 >Next Gallery: Autoweek in review Everything you missed Mar 13 17 » Gallery: Inside the 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports coupe and convertible
The Continental Supersports isn’t designed to make you look like a hero, but we can think of worse ways to get around a track. Or get to the track. The morning spent driving through Portugal’s wine country en route to Estoril, first in a Continental Supersports coupe and then a convertible, was more in line with what these cars were designed and built for.
You can drive the car very, very smoothly, which is as it should be in a Bentley, but step into it and all 750 lb-ft of torque seem to wallop you at once. Acceleration is just plain silly, which is as it should be in a Supersports. You will almost certainly run out of road and nerve before you run out of power; there aren’t many places on the planet where you can explore this car’s 209-mph top speed.
It doesn’t feel small or light. But that’s not what you want when you buy one of these. Touring in one is, by design, a thoroughly isolating experience. Slam the vaultlike doors of the coupe and a little bit of the engine is just about all that makes it into a cabin. The note of the W12 is an almost tectonic rumble -- the sound of power drawn from some bottomless well. Let off the gas and there’s a healthy snap, crackle and pop from the exhaust; grin-inducing at first, it’s almost a little too regular. For better or worse, it’s clearly a carefully engineered part of the driving experience.
As you’d expect, the convertible does a better job of placing you in the scenery rather than simply whisking you through it; with the top down and the neck warmers on, you’re about as exposed to the surrounding environment as the driver of a $325,325 convertible can possibly be.
But as much as torsional rigidity has improved since the old days, spirited driving on winding roads draws a bit of flex out of the drop-top. There’s a hint of old-school cowl shake and a creak or two to go along with the open-air experience; we were looking for these things, though, and we wonder if the average driver will even notice.
Carbon fiber trim doesn't do much to lighten the coupe's 5,027-pound curb weight, but that's beside the point.
The new Continental Supersports works because it plays to the Continental GT’s strengths. It’s not pretending to be a smaller, lighter, more hardcore car, which only makes its high-speed antics and on-track acrobatics more unexpected and enjoyable.
With that solidity and assertiveness that we’ve always enjoyed, however, comes the fact that we’ve been enjoying those things for a very long time now -- this is, fundamentally, the same car Bentley rolled out in 2003.
Unless you’re hankering for cutting-edge tech (the infotainment interface here is undeniably aged, and features like adaptive cruise control are absent entirely), you won’t care. Though we like the liveliness of the V8-packing GT Speed, this is the most fun the W12-powered Continental has ever been; it’s testament to just how right Bentley got the Continental in the first place, and how far it’s been able to push development forward in the intervening years.
And it has all led to this. Bentley won’t come out and say that this Supersports is the current Continental’s swan song -- Continental product line director Paul Jones would only call it the model’s latest, not its last, hurrah. We say it makes for one hell of a grand finale.
Coupe or convertible: Either way, not a bad way to ride off into the sunset.
Graham Kozak - Graham Kozak drove a 1951 Packard 200 sedan in high school because he wanted something that would be easy to find in a parking lot. He thinks all the things they're doing with fuel injection and seatbelts these days are pretty nifty too.
>Base Price: $296,025/$325,325 (coupe/convertible; gas guzzler tax TBD)
>Powertrain: : 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12; AWD; eight-speed automatic
>Output: 700 hp @ 5,900 rpm; 750 lb-ft @ 2,050-4,500 rpm
>Curb Weight: 5,027 lb/5,412 lb (coupe/convertible)
>0-60 MPH: 3.4 sec/3.7 sec (coupe/convertible)
>Fuel Economy: 11/20/14 11/19/13 (coupe/convertible)(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
>Pros: Speed, power, solidity: everything we’ve always liked about the Continental GT is here, amplified
>Cons: Though the Continental holds up remarkably well, there are newer, fresher contenders on the market
Source : https://autoweek.com/article/car-reviews/2017-bentley-continental-supersports-coupe-and-convertible-first-drive-review
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