Road damage ahead: The unbelievable Bentley Continental Supersports
summit daily auto writer
When your ship finally comes in and, like Tim Tebow or Jay-Z, you have the kind of tall cash you can throw around like birdseed, you might just be the kind of customer destined for the Bentley Continental Supersports.
While your standard-issue Continental clearly demarcates the line between the affluent and the mass affluent, the (as tested) $289,000 Supersports variation takes an already sublime and ridiculously powerful vehicle and makes it … more ridiculous. Get one in the completely unsubtle St. James red paint scheme like mine was and it’s like you’ve acquired your own H-bomb for the weekend.
It’s a rare supercar that weighs as much as a Ford F-150 (4,939 pounds) but is both extremely comfortable for its passengers and accelerates and stops with nearly the same heart-stopping impact as a 911 Turbo or a Lamborghini Gallardo. Neither of which are particularly comfortable, nor do they sport a full-sized back seat.
Supersports, as a result, is a strange and wild beast, a fantastically beautiful, speedy and superbly finished automobile. Its statistics threaten to bend the laws of physics: 621 horsepower drawn from a twin-turbocharged W12 engine-essentially two V6s welded together-producing enough off-the-line power to hit 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.
Keep the drilled alloy gas pedal firmly pressed to the floor and you will be, as I found, absolutely flattened, Gumby-style, by the acceleration, like two solid fuel rocket boosters have been ignited. The resulting noise sounds like Satan himself, wrapped up in a Hermes Birkin handbag; its six-speed transmission has been reprogrammed to offer popping gear changes in 20 milliseconds.
The rush of thrust is relentless and seems even more extreme once you’ve passed the point of no return; with the right amount of empty roadway (maybe Colorado Hwy. 125, south of Walden, on a Tuesday), the Supersports will very handily reach its 204 mile per hour VMAX point.
Carbon-ceramic brakes the size of extra-large pizzas (16.5 inches up front, 14 in the back), fitted into 20-inch wheels sporting super-high-performance 275/35 ZR20 tires, can then bring you out of orbit with the same intensity. Full-time all-wheel-drive is also there to additionally magnetize the Bentley to the tarmac.
From the soft touch leather on the carbon fiber wheel to the gigantic, “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”-inspired shift lever (or even the Breitling clock on the center console), the fastest-ever Bentley blends those near-NASCAR levels of power and performance with exquisite detail and comfort.
Frankly, it was all absolutely terrifying – and wonderful. It soon dawned on me that to be able to comfortably and even occasionally unthinkingly motor in a car (still four tires, an engine and a steering wheel) which costs the same as a reasonable home or a 10-day-long stretch in the ICU of a major hospital … well, that takes some cajones, my friends. You’ll spend a lot of time having the Supersports valet parked, and you’ll need a hardened concrete bunker to park it in at night.
This leads me to suspect that the Supersports is crafted as a plaything for monacle-wearing millionaire industrialists and old-world trust-funders (the kind you see on the annual Gumball Rally circuit) who want the rawest and most insane of automotive performance, all wrapped up in a shell that’s dripping with distinction and class, but isn’t all hyper-angular and exotically dysfunctional.
You’ll never get passed, I can assert that much, and you’ll never be at a shortage for uphill acceleration power. The aroma of quilted, hand-stitched Alcantara door inserts and seats, plus the acres and acres of sumptuous leather, might actually give you a headache. Or make you cry.
If the crying kicks in, just turn on the optional seat massagers, pull one of the church organ-styled pipes to issue more air conditioning flow, and consider the lifestyle achievements which led you to this point in time. And then floor it. No looking back.
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