First Drive: 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports

First Drive: 2017 Bentley Continental Supersports
 

Bentley has unleashed its latest limited-edition (only 710 units globally) Continental Supersports on South African turf to appease the astute gent or lady who finds the already-brisk GT Speed a bit, well, less endowed in the power stakes, if 467kW and 820Nm are anything to scoff at.

For some, having the best of the genre, the pinnacle of the range, is what it is all about and for these discerning individuals, the company from Crewe in the UK has made available the Continental Supersports in coupe and convertible derivatives.

Only 710 units will be built and that figure correlates with the engine’s power output of 552kW, which is 710ps in traditional calculation.

Prior to getting to those oily bits, there is an array of standard, model-specific addenda that sets it apart from its slightly lesser siblings.

The front valance has been spruced up for better aerodynamics and to feed more cooling air to that six-liter W12 engine, while the sportier side sills, 21-inch wheels and carbon fibre boot deck and lower valance, hint at the model’s sportier intents and reduce the unsprung mass by 20kg.

Cabin appointments continue the sporting theme with a chequered carbon fibre design on the dash, while the quilted leather pews can also be contrasted with yellow stitching should you opt for a black lacquer colour interior.

It all comes together in a traditional, handcrafted Bentley style without looking too garish or overdone, which should appease the traditionalists with a penchant for bespoke interiors.

A grand tourer in every sense of the word with seating for four people, the 6.0l W12 powering the Supersports models is similar to that in the GT Speed, but its twin turbos have been beefed up to put out 522kW and 1 017Nm, the latter figure easily outweighing any of its closest rivals, including the Mercedes-AMG S65 coupe that makes 463kW and 1 000Nm from a 6.0l V12 biturbo engine.

The Supersports chassis has also been retuned to make the model that much more dynamic compared to the GT Speed and, subsequently, more agile.

The latter, of course, is used loosely in this instance as the Conti remains a fairly large and heavy car, but manages to cover ground effortlessly and at a fair lick. Thanks to torque vectoring and the four-wheel drive system, unleashing all that power is an easy and accessible affair.

According to the company, the model can accelerate to 100km/h from rest in a scant 3.4seconds (3.7 for the open-top) and keep accelerating up to its 330km/h speed ceiling. That is proper, sheer motoring that will give a few exotic sports cars a good run for their money.

We managed to drive the coupe and convertible variants at the media launch in Gauteng and, while I more than lean towards tin-top than open-top variants, in this instance the convertible fits the bill. This is not a car you try and chase apexes and lap times on the track with, where a car’s rigidity needs to be well-sorted. It is the kind of car that will thrive hurtling down a derestricted highway such as the German autobahn, where covering ground at speed is its forte.

With the roof folded, the exhaust’s cheekier note is more audible and appreciable with belching and crackling in equal measure, perfect for those buying in the segment who arguably more often than not will appreciate cruising down Rivonia Boulevard on their way to the cigar lounge at the Saxon hotel.

Do not for one moment think that the model is shy to unleash all that muscle on the road. Quite the contrary, and you had better keep your eye on the speedometer needle as it sweeps from west to east quicker than you can say metro cops. Driven sedately, basking in the elements while the massage front seats knead your and a lucky passenger’s back, I could think of worse ways to spend one’s time on the road.

While this is the last hurrah, a swansong of the current Continental GT, the Supersports remains a rapid open-road cruiser that for R4.450m for the coupe and R4.850m for the convertible will more than likely appreciate in value by virtue of their exclusivity. – Lerato Matebese

Fast Facts: Bentley Continental Supersports

Engine: 5998cc twin-turbocharged W12
Power: 522kW at 5900rpm
Torque: 1017Nm at 2050rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 3.5-seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 336km/h (claimed)
Fuel: 15.7l/100km (claimed combined)
CO2: 358g/km
Price: From R4 850 000