The Continental Supersports is the fastest and most powerful Bentley ever. It is the extreme Bentley, a muscular two-seater that delivers supercar performance and a highly focused driving experience.
The Supersports is also the first Bentley capable of running on both petrol (gasoline) and biofuel, pioneering the use of FlexFuel technology in the luxury sector. This represents stage one of the company’s commitment to make its complete model range compatible with renewable fuels by 2012.
Available worldwide from autumn 2009, the Continental Supersports will be FlexFuel compatible in the majority of markets from launch with North American cars offering the capability by summer 2010, following regulatory approval.
The Continental Supersports began as an ‘under the radar’ project exploring the possibilities of weight reduction on the Continental GT but with more power and torque. A largely experimental process crystallised over a period of 24 months into an official new car programme, driven by the passion and enthusiasm of a small group of Bentley engineers and designers.
The results are dramatic. With 630PS (621 bhp) and new ‘Quickshift’ transmission that halves shift times, the Supersports sets new performance benchmarks for Bentley. It accelerates from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds (0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds) onto a top speed of 204 mph (329 km/h).
Supercar performance is complemented by an array of chassis enhancements including retuned steering and suspension, utilising lighter weight components, retuned dampers and anti-roll bars.
Agility is further sharpened by the 40:60 rear-biased torque split for the all-wheel drive system, a wider rear track, bespoke lightweight 20-inch alloy wheels and a unique electronic stability programme.
Carbon ceramic brakes are standard fitment, benefiting steering response, grip and ride comfort, while saving weight. Overall, the engineering team have achieved a weight reduction of 110 kg (243 lb) compared with the Continental GT Speed.
The evolution of the Supersports’ design is very much a case of ‘form following function’ with new purposeful sculptural forms signalling the engineering changes beneath the skin.
For example, the increased power and torque of the W12 engine necessitated additional airflow to the twin turbocharger intercoolers and cooling system. Bentley’s designers responded with a purposeful and dramatic style that features large vertical intake apertures and twin bonnet vents.
Similarly, new flared rear wings that accommodate the 50 mm (2 inches) wider rear track are designed to emphasise the powerful stance of this ultra-high performance coupe. The resultant Supersports style combines the looks of the iconic Continental GT with a new and distinctive appearance that reflects its more extreme character.
The Supersports is further distinguished from its Continental coupe stable mates by a unique dark-smoked steel finish to all exterior ‘brightware’, including front grilles, lamp bezels, window surrounds and wheels. A complex ‘Physical Vapour Deposition’ process is applied to all stainless steel components to give a lustrous and highly durable finish. A car industry first, this process is normally used as a coating on industrial tools, watches and even hip replacement joints.
Fully embracing the extreme spirit of the Supersports, Bentley’s interior designers have created a unique ambience. The cockpit represents a dramatic re-interpretation of Bentley interior design in which carbon fibre and AlcantaraTM not only convey a sporting and contemporary style but also reduce weight.
The Supersports is a strict two-seater featuring all-new lightweight sports seats with carbon fibre clamshell rear panels. In the rear compartment, the seats are replaced by a stowage deck with a carbon fibre luggage retaining beam.
The new interior also provides a showcase for the skills of Bentley’s craftsmen and women at the company’s factory in Crewe, England. Signature premium grade leather and brightware are complemented by carbon fibre panels, replacing traditional wood veneers.
The Continental Supersports is capable of running on either petrol and E85 biofuel or any combination of the two. E85 biofuel can offer a reduction of up to 70 per cent in CO2 emissions on a ‘well-to-wheel’ basis.
Well-to-wheel is a measurement of a fuel’s net CO2 contribution to the atmosphere, not just tailpipe emissions. It is a way of quantifying how much CO2 a fuel emits from its growth or extraction (well) to its combustion or deployment (wheel). It includes refinement, distillation and transport of the fuel.
The fuel supply system detects the blending ratio of the fuel in the tank and ensures that power and torque remain constant regardless of the ratio of petrol to biofuel. The result is seamless power delivery in the Bentley tradition.
The ‘Supersports’ name is inspired by the original two-seater 3-litre Supersports model introduced in 1925, itself an evolution of the 3-litre Speed. The lightweight, 85 bhp Supersports was the first production Bentley to reach 100 mph and was also renowned for the application of Le Mans-winning race technology.
Commenting on the new Supersports model, Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen, Bentley’s Chairman and Chief Executive said: “The Continental Supersports reflects the passion and enthusiasm of Bentley’s engineers and designers. This is the fastest, most extreme Bentley ever, dramatically styled to underline its supercar character. Importantly, it also pioneers the use of FlexFuel technology in the luxury sector.”