Blazing Bentley Continental Supersports Revealed

Tom Ludwick
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For 24 months a small group of engineers and designers worked on a special project to reduce the weight and increase the power of the Continental GT. What you see before you is the result. The Continental Supersports-the name comes from the original 3-liter model introduced in 1925-will be the fastest road-going car in the company's 90 year history.

How fast is it? Bentley's initial performance figures say that the sprint to 60 mph takes only 3.7 seconds and it'll top out at 204 mph. Those figures best the current quickest Bentley, the Continental GT Speed, which takes more than 4 seconds to reach 60 mph and hits top speed at a mere 202 mph.

Part of the improved acceleration comes from the revised 6.0-liter W-12 engine. The engine is the company's first flex-fuel-capable power plant. It now produces 621 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Inside the fuel tank is a sensor that detects the ratio of gasoline to E85 and reports back to the ECU to ensure that the engine's output remains the same regardless of the mixture.

Bentley knocked a few more ticks off the acceleration times with a new 'Quickshift' transmission that cuts former shift times in half. The entire car has also been lightened by 243 lbs. To bring it all to a halt, the Supersports uses the largest and most powerful carbon ceramic brakes fitted to a production car.

Handling is improved thanks to an array of chassis enhancements. Lighter weight components were used and the steering, dampers, and anti-roll bars were all retuned. Bentley further improved the agility by implementing a 40/60 rear-biased torque split for the all-wheel drive system, a wider rear track, lightweight 20-inch wheels and a revised electronic stability program.

Inside, the cabin was designed to give occupants a sporty feel and it also contributes the to weight reduction theme. First off, you'll notice that the rear seats have been replaced by a storage deck and a carbon fiber luggage retaining beam. Also, the fancy woodwork around the cabin is replaced by carbon fiber and the same material is found on the lighter weight front sport seats. Finally, the rest of the inside is trimmed in Alcantara and 'soft touch' leather.

Expect the fastest Bentley yet to reach worldwide audiences in fall of this year. While it will be FlexFuel compatible in most markets at the time of launch, North American cars will not offer the capability until the summer 2010 because of pending regulatory approval.

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