The grand old name of British luxury motoring gets an injection of pace as it produces the fastest four-seater on the sportscar market – the Bentley Continental Supersports. Tiff Needell takes this heavyweight thoroughbred for a ride
So you’ve decided you want to buy the fastest four-seater car … in the world! You’ve had a peek through the showroom window and think the Ferrari GT4CLusso will just about squeeze into your garage. Well, let me spare your blushes and save £18,000 out of your wallet by pointing you in the direction of Bentley.
You see, the fastest four-seater doesn’t come from the fabled stable of a supercar manufacturer but from a marque more renowned for producing luxury grand tourers. The Bentley Continental GT was introduced back in 2003, when the company was given a massive financial boost, having been taken over by Volkswagen AG, and two generations with a vast range of variants have revived better than even the most optimistic might have expected, with around 60,000 being sold globally to date.
Alas, all good things must end and a replacement is looming, so this must be its last hurrah. Only two previous Bentleys have borne the Supersports name, the 1925 3 Litre Speed model – the first to guarantee 100mph – and the 2009 630hp Continental that this replaces.
The new model is the fastest, most powerful Bentley ever made and, with 710hp, just 710 cars will be built. New intake and exhaust systems plus bigger turbos have cranked another 80hp out of the fabled W12 engine and, with a mountain of torque, this two-and-a-quarter-tonne steed can double the 100mph offered by that first Supersports, add another nine and beat the Ferrari by one!
I’ve never quite bonded with the ‘bold’ styling of the Continental and it looks even stranger battling with the Ferrari 488s and Lamborghini Huracáns it competes against in GT3 races, which it does with some success, thanks to balanced regulations. And the addition of a carbon fibre splitter on the front and a carbon fibre rear wing – fortunately removable – does little to change my opinion.
But what it’s like to drive? The diamond quilted Alcantara seats still hold you comfortably in place and you can pick your interior from 10 options. With that tonnage being launched towards the horizon at such speed, carbon ceramic brakes have been added as standard. But that’s almost the only step taken to reduce its considerable weight – although you could save a little more by adding a raucous titanium exhaust if you want to be sure the neighbours know you’re coming.
Stiffer suspension loses some ride quality but helps you hustle through the corners – with torque vectoring orchestrating the four-wheel drive to help its big front end go where the light and pleasantly direct steering tells it – not that it will ever feel like a nimble sportscar.
If it’s fresh air you want, the Bentley is offered as a convertible, but it costs another £21,000 and you’ll no longer be driving the fastest four-seater… just, at 205mph, the fastest four-seater convertible.
Bentley Continental Supersports: the verdict
Top speed 209mph Acceleration 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds
Engine 6.0 litre turbocharged W12 generating 710hp Gearbox eight-speed automatic
Economy 18.0mpg Price £212,500
Performance 8/10 Handling 7/10
Economy 4/10 Comfort 9/10
Quality 9/10 Desirability 9/10
View the gallery (click to enlarge)
To see the new Continental Supersports in action visit youtube.com/bentleymotors