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Review (2/2)

The Continental Supersports is the Fastest, Most Powerful Bentley Ever

Source: Bentley | Published: Mon Aug 16, 2010

(continued from the previous page)

Acceleration times are improved, response times throughout the whole gear range are enhanced and engine braking can be better exploited during enthusiastic driving. The result is a driving experience with a sportier feel and sound.

To cope with the additional power and torque, the planetary gear set of the ZF transmission is also strengthened.

The increased power and torque, 'Quickshift' transmission and a 110 kg reduction in weight endow the Supersports with a top speed of 204 mph (329 km/h) and a 0-60 mph sprint time of just 3.7 seconds. It also accelerates from 0-100 mph in just 8.9 seconds.

Engineering Bentley's First 'FlexFuel' Engine

At the 2008 Geneva Auto Salon, Bentley announced a far-reaching environmental program to reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy across its model range.

An important element of this strategy is by 2012, to make the entire Bentley fleet capable of running on renewable fuel through the introduction of FlexFuel technology, where engines are capable of running seamlessly on bioethanol, petrol or any mix of the two.

At the same time, Bentley declared that this would be achieved without sacrificing its well-known performance and luxury.

This statement of intent has taken shape in the Continental Supersports - a car that balances extreme potency with the pioneering use of biofuel technology in the luxury sector.

The result is a net CO2 reduction of up to 70 per cent on a well-to-wheel-basis, the measurement of CO2 release of a fuel from its production (well) to its combustion or deployment (wheel).

A Highly Focused Driving Experience

The Supersports' high performance is complemented by an array of chassis enhancements and weight reductions to deliver a highly focused driving experience with the emphasis on grip, agility and response.

The complex, four-link front suspension features not only high stiffness aluminum uprights, but now lightweight aluminum forward levers (saving 4 kg/8.8 lb). New double-stiffened bushes are fitted at the inboard mounting point to improve steering response and feedback.

A new hydraulic bush for the trailing link is 33 per cent stiffer to improve response and has a revised damping peak for better control of fore-aft wheel movement.

The anti-roll bar geometry is retuned for improved roll stiffness, while the Servotronic speed-sensitive steering system is tuned for sharper turn-in, improved feel and linearity.

The front and rear suspensions benefit from changes to the electronic control strategy of the Continous Damping Control (CDC) system that improve body control.

In common with the GT Speed, the Supersports' suspension is lowered by 10 mm (0.4 inches) at the front and 15 mm (0.6 inches) at the rear for optimal handling.

Agility is further sharpened by a revision to the continuous all-wheel drive system, which provides exceptional traction in all weathers. As before, the drive is automatically transferred between the front and rear axles via a highly sensitive Torsen centre differential which automatically sends more power to the wheels with greater grip.

For the Supersports, the standard 50/50 front/rear torque split is replaced by a 40/60 split with a rear-bias. This provides for better modulation of line and attitude by 'throttle steering' as well as neutral acceleration out of bends.

The Supersports is fitted with unique, lightweight 9.5J x 20-inch forged alloy wheels, offering a total weight saving of 10 kg (22 lb) per car. These reduce both unsprung and rotating mass while the open 10-spoke design offers superior brake cooling. The rear wheels have a 25 mm (I inch) greater offset resulting in a 50 mm (2 inches) increase in the rear track, further benefiting handling and stability.

The new wheels are fitted with 275/35 ZR20 Pirelli Ultra-High Performance tires, shared with the Continental GT Speed and provide excellent steering response. The wider rear track further enhances the already high level of grip.

To ensure optimum aerodynamic balance at speeds of up to 204 mph (329 km/h), the Supersports is fitted with a re-profiled automatic spoiler which deploys at 50 mph.

The Supersports is fitted with Bentley's carbon-ceramic brakes as standard - the largest and most powerful ever fitted to a production car. The large diameter (420 mm front, 356 mm rear), lightweight discs and eight-piston calipers offer fade-resistant braking performance with minimal disc distortion under high thermal conditions. A 20 kg (44 lb) weight saving reduces unsprung and rotating mass, benefiting steering response and handling. Pedal feel is also improved with shorter travel, high effectiveness and a precise pressure point.

The standard-fit tire-pressure monitoring system allows drivers to select tire type and speed range parameters. As well as monitoring pressures, the system warns drivers if their speed is too high for the tire pressures or if tire speed ratings are exceeded on winter tires.

The Supersports features an advanced electronic stability program (ESP) that exploits the potential of the more powerful engine and enhanced chassis, improving driver interaction and control. The new ESP also provides faster reinstatement of engine torque after intervention for improved agility. The target slip is increased at greater than 90 per cent throttle to utilize all available longitudinal grip. Corner exit agility is thereby enhanced for increased driver involvement.

Muscular Styling: Form Follows Function

The Bentley Continental Supersports was not born of market research. It started out as a kind of 'under the radar' project' with a team of four engineers investigating the additional performance potential of a lighter weight Continental GT.

Driven by this small, highly-motivated group of Bentley engineers, the project gathered momentum. The team sought to create a rear-bias for the power delivery and also raise that power to create the fastest and most powerful Bentley ever. The design team was then briefed to make the new car 'extreme'.

The evolution of the Supersports' design was a clear case of form following function, the purposeful sculptural forms signaling the engineering revisions beneath the skin.

At the front, Supersports has a simple 'letter box' center air intake flanked by two vertical grilles which give the car dramatic differentiation, making it seem wider (and therefore lower) while feeding a larger volume of cooling air to the intercoolers. Two new bonnet vents extract hot air from the engine bay.

At the rear, the subtly curved wheel arches are extended by 1 inch each side, necessitating newly tooled panels, to accommodate the increased track of the uprated chassis. They provide the Supersports with a truly muscular stance, complemented by the new lightweight, 20-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels. The very open design allows a clear view of the carbon ceramic brake discs and calipers.

A new bumper with a black finish to the lower valance, houses larger (+ 40 mm/1.6 inches), unique elliptical exhaust pipes with a discreet vertical divider.

The Supersports is further distinguished by a unique dark-smoked steel finish to all exterior 'brightware', including front grilles, lamp bezels, window surrounds and wheels. A complex 'Physical Vapour Deposition' process is applied to all stainless steel components to give a lustrous and highly durable finish. A car industry first, this process is normally used as a decorative coating on watches and machine tools.

Four new exterior colors are available exclusively for the Supersports - Pearlescent Ice and Quartzite and a first for Bentley, two matt finish colors, Light Grey Satin and Dark Grey Satin. Supersports customers will also have a choice of the 17 'standard' paint colors.

The new Continental Supersports will feature subtle external model badges incorporated in the smoked steel trim strip behind each wheel on the lower front wings.

A Unique Driver-Focused Cabin

Fully embracing the extreme spirit of Supersports, Bentley's designers have created a unique ambience for the interior of this most 'driver focused' of Bentley cars. They have crafted a dedicated two-seat cabin that blends traditional leather hide with three new materials for Bentley - carbon fiber, Alcantara and 'Soft-Touch' leather. Traditional Bentley craftsmanship and fine detailing is retained but given a very different interpretation.

Light weight carbon fiber replaces wood veneer on the fascia and centre console, while the new lightweight front sports seats also feature a carbon fibre clamshell back. The rear seats are replaced by a stowage deck area with a carbon fiber luggage retaining beam.

A visible weave in all the carbon fiber components has a 'Bentley-specific' density and all the parts are finished at the company's Crewe wood shop.

The all-new lightweight sports seat frames are manufactured to a Bentley specification and assembled and trimmed at Crewe. The cushion angle is fixed but the seat can be raised/lowered by 40 mm (1.6 inches) by the dealer who will tailor each car to its owner's stature. The new seats have regular fore/aft movement, backrest recline adjustment and a heated cushion and backrest which tips forwards to provide access to the rear compartment. The new seat makes a significant contribution to the weight reduction target by saving a total of 45 kg (99 lb) versus the Continental GT Speed.

As the new sports seats do not have integrated belts, the top seatbelt anchorage was moved to the B-post. The Continental GT's twin centre armrests were replaced by a wider, single armrest above an enlarged centre console storage unit.

The headlining, rear compartment and the seat centre panels are finished in Alcantara, a high quality suede-like material.

The Alcantara applied to the rear compartment and seat facings is quilted and in the Supersports, marks the return of the much smaller 'diamond' upholstery pattern from Bentleys of old.

To further highlight the car's sporty nature, the steering wheel and gear lever are trimmed in new 'Soft-Touch' leather with extra grip for a racing car feel.

The predominant interior color is black with Beluga secondary hide and Anthracite Alcantara. Customers however can personalize their interior by choosing between Single and Duo Tone themes.

Single Tone interiors feature primary and secondary hides in Beluga (black) and can be tailored to customer preference with a choice of contrasting stitching and piping (defining the seat edges) in seven colors - Newmarket Tan, Hotspur, Saffron, Linen, Portland, Porpoise or Beluga.

Duo Tone interiors offer a choice of three color combinations with the primary hide in Newmarket Tan, Porpoise (grey) or Hotspur (red), the secondary hide in Beluga and the rear compartment and seats faces trimmed in Anthracite Alcantara - as they are in the Single Tone cars.

These innovations are complemented by drilled alloy foot-pedals and 'Supersports' logos to the polished treadplates.

Bentley Continental Supersports: Photo Gallery, Review (1/2) and Specifications

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