By: Shin Takei
W.O. Bentley and the Bentley Boys would be proud if they were alive today. Finally, a Bentley car that truly represents their spirit from the 1920s has arrived.
From the outside, there’s little that distinguishes this design from the Continental GTC Speed. Upon closer inspection, however, the differences include vertical cooling ducts in the lower front fascia, slim vents on the sides of the hood and huge 10 spoke wheels (20″ diameter). Lurking behind the wheels are – Holy-smokn’ Batman!!! – big honkin’ carbon-ceramic rotors (16.5”x1.6” front and 14”x1” rear). Our car was finished in ICE – a grayish metallic white which exudes understated elegance but still makes a statement.
Inside, satin-finish carbon fiber accents, Beluga upholstery, diamond quilted Alcantara fabric and Newmarket Tan piping adorn the cabin. Fit and finish is tops, as can be expected, and the vent-pulls are nicely integrated into the instrument panel. An Infotainment system by NAIM houses the audio system, NAV system and adjustments for the electronic climate control, suspension and ride height.
The lightweight sports seats have slots for shoulder harnesses and save 99 lbs per car. Since they are racing seats, the controls are manual for fore and aft positions as well as back rest angle. Although the 3-spoke steering wheel is adjustable for reach and rake, the fixed seat height made it difficult to find a comfortable position. From the low vantage point, the view to the front left was compromised by the large side-view mirror. The rear seats were deemed comfortable for passengers 5’2” and under. The Alcantara fabric reminded one of the ladies of her Chanel handbag – a nice compliment.
The well padded top takes exactly 23 seconds to open or close and insulates the cockpit so well that even the growl of the engine is muted. With the top down, wind buffeting can be minimized by the wind deflector, which is stowed in the trunk. The side mirrors and the rear-view camera incorporated into the Infotainment system give ample view behind. These work together with parking sensors front and rear to ensure that you don’t hit something while parking.
Upon pushing the start/stop button, the engine comes immediately to life with a sharp growl that settles into an angry-sounding idle. The 6-liter twin turbocharged W12 engine produces 621 bhp at 6,000 rpm and 590 ftlbs torque at 2,000-4,500 rpm. This is more than enough to propel the 6,060 lb GVW vehicle to an astonishing 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds and 0-100 mph in 9.6 seconds. If you accelerate and lift the throttle, you’ll hear a rumbling that reminds you this is a hot rod. The 6-speed ZF automatic transmission with Quickshift Tiptronic paddle shifters makes crisp up and double downshifts in 200 milliseconds. This sports car can go as fast as 202 mph top speed. The massive brakes have awesome stopping power and the carbon-ceramic set-up saves 44 lbs in unsprung weight.
Under hard cornering, the full-time all wheel drive comes alive, keeping the car stable and steady. The high grip level is enhanced by the Pirelli 275/35 ZR20 Ultra High Performance Tires. Together with Continuous Damping Control (CDC), Electronic Stability Control (ESP), ABS, adjustable ride height and damper settings, the driver is able to tune the car to personal preference. The steering is precise and responsive. This may be the best all wheel drive we have experienced.
In a car with this much power, the EPA rating is not bad (13 mpg city, 23.8 mpg highway). Now for the real surprise – the 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible can be run on both regular gas and FlexFuel. That’s right, E85 bioethanol can be poured into the gas tank. By using FlexFuel, a 70% reduction in CO2 emission from “well to wheel” basis can be achieved. Computer controlled sensors in the fuel supply system detect varying fuel pressure and the blending ratio. This ensures that power, torque and emissions remain the same for whatever fuel is being used.
Pricing starts at $280,000.
For more information visit www.BentleyMotors.com