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Thursday 16th June 2011

Driven: Bentley Continental Supersports

The car no neo-Georgian Manchester mega-mansion should be without?



A Bentley Continental is sophisticated, comfortable, and may very well be the result of some of the worlds most polished automotive engineers doing some of their best work. That they're occasionally sold to semi-educated, overpaid footballers with large, irretrievably vulgar houses just south of Manchester isn't a crime, but the Bentley marque does seem to have suffered more from the association than others.

Brian Gush - top engineering type
Brian Gush - top engineering type
However, when the key for the 621bhp Supersports version was dropped into our hands by Brian Gush (Bentley's Director for Chassis, Powertrain, and Motorsport) who beamed as he instructed us to 'thrash it', we couldn't have cared less what anyone else thought of us as we drove it. But first we asked him how the Supersports came to be.

"It was an idea that gradually gathered pace as opposed to being the plan from the outset" he confessed. "The Powertrain guys had been on the dyno finding out what they could get out of the engine while the engineering department was looking into a weight-saving exercise. The transmission people at the same time had been working on a quick-shift gearbox with different valves and torque converter characteristics and a system which smoothed-out gear changes by cutting the fuelling in between shifts. Each of these departments had built a car, and we looked at each of them and decided to pull everything together and increase the track-width and move to a 40/60 split with the four-wheel-drive system to improve the handling."


Add to this mix the biggest carbon-ceramic brake discs ever fitted to any production car (which remove 20kg of un-sprung weight from the front axle and will, Bentley claim, last the life of the car) and you get a two-and-a-quarter-ton luxury vehicle which can hit 100mph from standstill in under nine seconds, and which has handling and braking to match. This is largely down to the Supersports' most impressive statistic, which is that it develops 590lb ft of torque from - get this - just 1700rpm. This means that, theoretically at least, before your foot reaches the floor you'll be accelerating a rate which will simply embarrass about 98 per cent of the world's production cars.

With Brian's advice still ringing in our ears as we peeled off a low-speed roundabout and onto a long, open piece of A-road we pinned the throttle. Few cars - even lightweight ones - can propel you down the road like this thing; the shattering amount of torque on tap seems utterly contemptuous of the car's weight and it feels like it could still do 0-100 in less than nine seconds whilst towing a caravan.


With just a short time to get to know the Bentley we departed the Crewe factory and headed west across country to see how it handled the fast and bumpy south Cheshire B-roads. Before too long we found a section which was ideal for assessing how well the Supersports accelerated, braked, and handled weight transfer (which with two and a quarter tons to balance was a key issue.) Although of course we'd already learned plenty about the acceleration side of things by then...

Leaning hard on the brakes before we entered a challenging left-right-left series of bends there was just the tiniest delay (presumably as the huge carbon-ceramic discs found their ideal operating temperature) before the car scrubbed off the excess speed. Threading it through the first few times was an education, with the car seemingly happy to go through much, much faster than we were initially prepared to push it. After a few runs we reached the point where it was just starting to slide as the weight transferred from right to left on the way in, but all the time there wasn't the slightest hint of any trouble. This is a full-size luxury car which can change direction in a manner reminiscent of a Japanese four-wheel-drive turbo car. Simple as that.


Behind the wheel the Supersports exudes a feeling of invincibility that other cars of a similar performance just don't. The drive back to the factory was a brisk and as effortless as the day's driving had been up to that point. It's not perfect of course; the steering could do with more feel (which is something we find ourselves saying quite often) and the interior shows that perhaps there can be too much carbon fibre in a car's cabin - although for a price they'll trim it how you like it.

But make no mistake; this is an epic driver's car. And if you've only got to pull on your boots a couple of times a week to earn the £163k asking price - well, why the hell wouldn't you?









silversixx
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Author Discussion

ikky85

Original Poster:

68 posts

41 months

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Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
Aston Martin all day.

DayTrader

776 posts

53 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
ikky85 said:
Aston Martin all day.
I'm the opposite. I would have this over a DBS without a doubt. The craftsmanship looks exquisite!

Stig

10,305 posts

170 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
Another month, another CGT variant - Bentley have well and truly adopted Porsche's 911 strategy (no surprise given the parent company).

sinbaddio

416 posts

62 months

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Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
Fabulous interior, and great pics - looks like they're taken at Cholmondeley Castle, home to the Pageant of Power - rather aptbiggrin

300bhp/ton

29,629 posts

76 months

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Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
I'm not really a fan of these. But from this angle this thing looks badass! hehe


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vixen1700

8,275 posts

156 months

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Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
DayTrader said:
The craftsmanship looks exquisite!
There was a good little documentary on National Geographic recently called Megafactories (I think), which looked at the building process at Bentley for the Mulsanne. Yes, the craftmanship really is exquisite on them.

Couldn't live with the present Bentley image though, despite the work that goes into them. Which is a shame, not that I could ever afford one, mind. biggrin

johnpeat

4,284 posts

151 months

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Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
DBS for me I'm afraid - the DBS is the sophisticated and expensive beauty-queen, this is her older sister who's probably every bit as nice but let herself go around the chocolates and wears too much sportswear...

According to the 'Megafactories' TV prog, it takes someone a couple-of-days work to trim one of their steering wheels - which, when it ends-up looking like it came straight-out of a Toyota, must be disappointing for them!

I had the pleasure of driving 2 regular Contis and whilst they're undeniably lovely (and faster than the mind can comfortably grasp - ask the Supra driver who challenged me!) they still feel just a BIT too "VW with nicer materials" inside (admiteddly MUCH nicer materials!!)...

Ironically - all that craftsmanship is probably lost on most of their customers too...

George H

12,553 posts

50 months

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Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
That is so vulgar and ostentatious. Clearly marketed at footballers then.

johnpeat

4,284 posts

151 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
George H said:
That is so vulgar and ostentatious. Clearly marketed at footballers then.
Ostentatious pretty-much means vulgar (and/or pretentious or showy) so that's like saying something is dark and black or shiny and bright... smile

I'd actually say that's the opposite of those things myself - pretentious and vulgar imply a lack of breeding or pedigree which I don't think can be aimed at that car...

You don't like it then? smile

ikky85

Original Poster:

68 posts

41 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
DayTrader said:
ikky85 said:
Aston Martin all day.
I'm the opposite. I would have this over a DBS without a doubt. The craftsmanship looks exquisite!
Aston's craftsmanship isn't that far off Bentley's. You dont really tend to see many DBS about and that noise from that V12 smile


GPT

1,934 posts

66 months

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Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
Incredible machine I'm sure.

That did read like an advertorial though.

xto

232 posts

60 months

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Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
ikky85 said:
Aston's craftsmanship isn't that far off Bentley's. You dont really tend to see many DBS about and that noise from that V12 smile
In London, i think the DBS is more common than the supersports or even the speed.

I bought a speed CGT recently over a DBS and a Supersports GTC as i found the SS too "focused" which is a word i didnt think i would use with a Bentley.

The speed does 9 things out of 10 the SS does, which i thought was enough for what the car is trying to be, a conformtable sports car.

mrclav

550 posts

109 months

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Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
johnpeat said:
it takes someone a couple-of-days work to trim one of their steering wheels - which ends-up looking like it came straight-out of a Toyota
Please show me a Toyota, any Toyota, that has a steering wheel like this Bentley. In particular, show me the steering wheel made by Toyota that has actual bare metal featured on it and not chrome effect plastic. If they make such a car I'll be buying it!

johnpeat

4,284 posts

151 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
mrclav said:
Please show me a Toyota, any Toyota, that has a steering wheel like this Bentley. In particular, show me the steering wheel made by Toyota that has actual bare metal featured on it and not chrome effect plastic. If they make such a car I'll be buying it!
In a photo it's not really about the materials - that LOOKS like the steering wheel from a Toyota - was my point...

Lose the buttons - it's not an F1 car, buttons on steering wheels have no place here (or in any car IMO)

ikky85

Original Poster:

68 posts

41 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
xto said:
In London, i think the DBS is more common than the supersports or even the speed.

I bought a speed CGT recently over a DBS and a Supersports GTC as i found the SS too "focused" which is a word i didnt think i would use with a Bentley.

The speed does 9 things out of 10 the SS does, which i thought was enough for what the car is trying to be, a conformtable sports car.
Hope i find myself in such a predicament Bentley or Aston lol

Well up "NORF" I kid you not for every 5 Bentley's i've seen there's 1 aston. Maybe thats because the factory's in Crewe dont know lol Both pretty special cars though

dme123

932 posts

75 months

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Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
A fabulous achievement technically, and the size of those brake discs made me laugh out loud. Am I alone in finding that interior really very ordinary to look at though? No doubt the materials are superb and likewise the attention to detail but it seems to lack something compared to an Aston or even the bigger Bentley. Maybe a different choice of colour scheme would improve it.

Also, albeit from my limited exposure to both and the small number of owners that I know, the Bentley appears to be a much more thoroughly engineered car than the DBS. Perhaps it's just down to how common Astons are now, but I've seen two on the hard shoulder in as many months, and heard many tales of woe from owners.

Dave

Edited by dme123 on Thursday 16th June 13:37

mylesmcd

1,380 posts

105 months

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Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all

Love it.

Right up until I saw the old A6 gate for the gear selector......why o why......

vetteheadracer

8,191 posts

139 months

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Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
Drove the mother-in-laws Bently Conti GT Flying Spur (the four door version of the base model) to Le Mans and back last weekend and have to say it is a fantastic car.
Unlike an Aston it is completely reliable i.e. can do more than 3 laps smile

I'd definitely buy a Conti Sports or Supersports as they are just such a good car. W12 6.0 Twin Turbo what's not to like? 3 gearbox settings i.e. full auto, flappy paddle or sequential shifter.
Only gripe I had was the trully antique satnav that required changing discs from the UK to France and reminded me of the Lambo Gallardo one in that you had to enter all the letters using a knob. Never understand why they don't just fit the cars with a Tom Tom One which is 10x easier to use and you get to have Darth Vader as the voice smile

Particularly liked the new command as I arrived at the Eurotunnel. "Take the ferry and bring me the all the passengers, I want them alive".

Anyway back on topic the Bentley is a brilliant GT car in the true sense of the word, big fuel tank, i.e. Maidstone to Le Mans on one tank on the way back wasn't tanking it and did from Chateauneuf-sur-Sarthe to Guildford on one tank at an average over 20MPG.

Obviously there are faster cars but not many and I can't think of any that will transport four people and their luggage in comfort at over 200MPH if the opportunity arrives.

Bear in mind you can now buy a 2004 Conti for less than £40k, just bear in mind servicing is not cheap and I would guess parts are equally expensive.



Stu R

20,819 posts

101 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
Yes please lick

mrclav

550 posts

109 months

[news] 
Thursday 16th June 2011 quote quote all
johnpeat said:
mrclav said:
Please show me a Toyota, any Toyota, that has a steering wheel like this Bentley. In particular, show me the steering wheel made by Toyota that has actual bare metal featured on it and not chrome effect plastic. If they make such a car I'll be buying it!
In a photo it's not really about the materials - that LOOKS like the steering wheel from a Toyota - was my point...

Lose the buttons - it's not an F1 car, buttons on steering wheels have no place here (or in any car IMO)
Agreed about the buttons - still, I've yet to see a Toyota with a steering wheel that LOOKS like that one. Admittedly due to safety regs there is a certain homogenisation regardless of brand looks-wise but I still fail to see it...

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