Bentley Continental GT Supersports review – a 700bhp, 209mph assault-yacht

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Bentley Continental GT Supersports
The Bentley Continental GT Supersports – might this be the ultimate long-distance machine? Credit: James Lipman

Fourteen years after it made its debut and thanks to this new Supersports model, the Bentley Continental GT leaves this world as the fastest four seat car you can buy. With a top speed of 209mph, not even Ferrari’s GTC4 Lusso is quite so ridiculously rapid.

The mere fact that the Continental has lasted twice as long as more conventional cars survive in the market stands as testament to the inherent desirability of its brand and the depth of its engineering excellence. But die it must and by the end of the year, and it is the job of this Supersports to keep customers buying until then. Bentley will limit production to 710 units, split according to demand between coupe and convertible versions, the closed car costing £212,500, some £43,600 more than the Speed model upon which it is closely based. Then again, people will always put their hands in their pockets for a limited edition.

And the car would appear well equipped for the task. Although it comes with new bumpers, air vents, bits of carbon fibre trim, badges, blackened tail-lights, rifled exhausts and other such cosmetic addenda required to provide a look of its own, the substantive changes all concern the engine. Some might consider the 636bhp of the Speed’s 6-litre, twin turbo, twelve cylinder engine to be what Bentley would once have described as ‘adequate’, but at this end of the market there is no such thing as enough power. So bigger turbos have upped its output to a thunderous 700bhp (or 710PS for those wondering why Bentley decided to limit production to this number), enough to make the Supersports quicker to 100mph than either a new Honda NSX or Nissan GT-R.

As ever with Bentley however, it is the manner in which that performance is delivered that defines the driving experience. It’s so effortless it’s like someone has grabbed the horizon and is wrenching it towards you while you sit in leather-lined splendour watching it all happen. It is utterly majestic and as ‘Bentley’ a driving experience as you could wish.

The interior of the Supersports is characteristically opulent – but is this tri-tone palette tasteful?

But it could have been better still if Bentley had made a commensurate effort with the chassis. True it has a torque vectoring system than helps keep the front of the car tucked into the apex, but in all other regards the suspension and even the tyres are carried over from the Speed. This means that in a car still weighing almost 2.3 tonnes its straight-line splendour is in no way matched by its cornering prowess. Yes it’s quite accurate for one so heavy and always composed, but the feel and driver interaction that distinguishes the great driving machines from the merely capable ground-coverers is missing.

The truth is that, regardless of what the badge implies, this is no sports car, but another Grand Touring Bentley from that long and fine tradition. It has the ride quality, the refinement and the ageing but exquisitely appointed interior. For a traditional Bentley customer that might count for far more than how agile it feels on the limit of adhesion.

The new Continental GT will be unveiled in September and will share its structure not with a large VW saloon as did the current car, but the all new Porsche Panamera. It should therefore be lighter, faster and far more dynamic. It might even mean that the wait for the first true Bentley sports car in a lifetime will soon be over.

THE FACTS

Bentley Continental Supersports

TESTED 2,981cc, twin-turbo flat 6 petrol, seven-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive

PRICE/ON SALE from £212,500/now

POWER/TORQUE 700bhp @ 5,900rpm/750lb ft @ 2,050rpm

TOP SPEED 209mph

ACCELERATION 0-62mph in 3.4sec

FUEL ECONOMY 18.0mpg/11.6 mpg (EU Combined/Urban)

CO2 EMISSIONS 358g/km

VED BAND M (£1120 first year, then £515)

VERDICT An appropriate parting shot for the car that’s transformed Bentley’s business over 14 years. Still not a great driver’s car, but as a high performance Grand Tourer it remains both credible and enjoyable

TELEGRAPH RATING Four stars out of five

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