2010 Bentley Continental Supersports | road test

Posted on Jul 14, 2010 by

 

The Supersports takes the looks of the Continental GT and beefs them up

The Supersports takes the looks of the and beefs them up

AT A GLANCE

FOR

  • Looks great
  • Fantastic performance
  • Awesome sound

AGAINST

  • Very expensive
  • Some cheap interior bits
  • Awkward gearshift paddles

SUMMARY

Strip down a Continental GT, give it a shed load of power and you have the Supersports – the most powerful ever produced. This is the car that the Continental GT Speed should have been. Rather than being simply a standard GT with more power, this is a proper sports car, set up for performance, handling and astounding speed.

It’s very expensive but more than worthy of the marque’s sporting heritage, providing thrills aplenty but with enough luxury to keep the regular Bentley owner happy. Only a couple of cheap-feeling interior bits and an ageing sat nav unit take any gloss off an almost dazzling shine.

Despite a weight in excess of two tonnes, the Supersports handles superbly

Despite a weight in excess of two tonnes, the Supersports handles superbly

PERFORMANCE

Power comes from a 621bhp, 6.0-litre W12 engine that gives savage acceleration and massive speed, but all enveloped in a velvet glove. Put your right foot down and there’s a big physical impact as the car leaps forward, but it’s not violent. Rather, it’s firm, insistent and continuous. Huge amounts of torque give the Supersports grunt at almost any position within the rev range. It’s very easy to go very fast in this car – 100kph comes up in 3.9 seconds and if you have the space it’ll continue to a whopping 329kph.

The gearbox is a six-speed automatic that’s very quick to react and very smooth. It can be left in full auto mode or switched to manual and operated by large paddles/ levers behind the steering wheel. We’re not too keen on these – while the change itself is almost perfect, the paddles feel too high up and far away from the wheel. We’d rather they were closer so that you don’t have to reach for them.

Carbon ceramic brakes are standard and give the Supersports fantastic stopping power, especially considering that it weighs more than two tonnes.

The Supersports comes in model-specific colours like this Quartzite version

HANDLING AND RIDE

The Supersports features Continuous Damping Control adjustable suspension that can be tweaked towards a sport or comfort-focused level of stiffness through a dial inside the car. Riding down the motorway with the sportiest suspension setting is surprisingly comfortable – we were expecting some crashiness, but the damping level is impressive.

Despite the weight saving measures employed by Bentley (it’s 110kg lighter than the GT Speed), the Supersports remains a large and very heavy car, but with four-wheel drive and some wonderful engineering it remains stable and holds on superbly around corners even at speeds you should never reach on public roads. The steering is beautifully weighted allowing the enthusiastic driver to always know what’s going on at the front wheels.

The Supersports was set up with the help of Le Mans-winning race driver Derek Bell and it shows – make no mistake, this is a proper performance sports car, not just a regular Bentley with some extra bits. Balance and responsiveness are superb and we expect that the Supersports would be more than at home on a race track as well as the road.

The 6.0-litre W12 engine produces a massive 621bhp

COMFORT

The interior will be familiar to anyone that’s been in a regular Continental GT but it’s been stripped down. Not to bare floors and exposed wires, of course – this is a Bentley after all. There’s still plenty of leather everywhere but also a lot of lightweight carbon fibre.

The paper-thin carbon fibre sports seats are surprisingly comfortable despite minimal padding. They fit the body really well and are very supportive during hard cornering. They adjust manually, which might raise a few eyebrows among luxury car aficionados used to electric operation, but it saves weight. The Supersports is a strict two-seater, so abandon any thoughts of putting kids in the back.

Quality of materials is largely top-notch – the leather feels supple, the carbon fibre looks brilliant and there’s metal and chrome everywhere. It all looks and feels great but be warned – the gearstick and the chromed edge of the indicator stalks get extremely hot if the Supersports is parked in the sun for any length of time.

The interior is stripped down compared to a 'standard' Bentley, but there's still plenty of luxury. Just watch out for hot metal in the Arabian sun

We found the air conditioning to be on the noisy side and there were a couple of touches that didn’t quite live up to the quality levels of the rest of the car – specifically the buttons around the sat nav unit, which feel a bit cheap and plasticky.

There’s a great noise from the exhaust. Put your foot down and there’s a throaty roar from the back of the car; lift off again and it burbles with pleasure. We found it intoxicating. You don’t get that on other Bentleys in the range.

PRACTICALITY

This isn’t really a car built for practicality. The car we drive had the back seats removed and a huge carbon fibre cross member replaced them which increases the stiffness of the chassis. A parcel shelf exists to carry any belongings you might want kept in the cabin.

There are a few concessions to the everyday however, such fold out door pockets and a single cup holder inside the centre armrest, which unfortunately means that you can use one or the other at a time.

Other than these features, the only other storage space is the 370-litre boot.

The Supersports is a car that loves to be driven enthusiastically

FEATURES

Features include rather unnecessary heated seats, intelligent key and start button, adjustable ride height and as spoiler that rises automatically when the car goes over 80kph. It can be raised or lowered manually using a switch.

A sat nav unit was included on our test car but it seemed rather basic and archaic compared to many of the systems in cars on sale today. For more than a million dirhams you’d want the latest and best tech, but this looks to be several years old, which is a shame. The UAE data on our test car’s system was well out of date too.

Other notable features include 20-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels, cruise control, iPod connectivity on the Naim stereo and a reversing camera.

If you have a million dirhams spare, we recommend the Supersports highly

If you have a million dirhams spare, we recommend the Supersports highly

SAFETY

Standard safety features include ABS and ESP electronic stability control, as well as an electronic tyre pressure monitoring system. Front and side airbags are also included.

No crash test data was available for the Supersports at the time of writing.

COSTS

The Supersports is a Bentley, so therefore it’s not going to be cheap. The UAE price is 1,038,500 AED, which is a huge amount of money. It’s more than 150,000AED pricier than the only-slightly-less-powerful GT Speed, but it’s a much better car. Cars that fetch similar cash include the substantially less powerful Ferrari California (990,000AED) and 458 Italia (910,000AED). We’ve not driven the 458, but we have tried the California and while it’s probably a better all-round car than the Bentley, it doesn’t offer the same level of drama and excitement.

Perhaps Bentley’s biggest rival for the price is the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, which has slightly more power and costs 1,050,500AED. Alas, we haven’t tried the Lambo, so we can’t tell you whether it can rival the Bentley’s driving experience.

With a 6.0-litre W12 engine, fuel economy is unlikely to be a priority for Supersports buyers, but for the record its combined economy is 16.3 litres per 100km, which gives it a theoretical range of around 550km from its 90-litre fuel tank.

Bentley offers a three-year unlimited mileage warranty on the Supersports. Services are due every year or 16,000km. Minor services will cost around 6,500AED and major services around 10,000AED at the time of writing.

2010 Bentley Continental Supersports

Engine: 6.0-litre W12
Max power (bhp/rpm): 621/6,000
Max torque (Nm/rpm): 800/1,700-5,600
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Driven wheels: Four-wheel drive
Kerb weight: 2,240kg
Price (AED): 1,038,500

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