Crewe, Cheshire – Gone are the days when prospective Bentley customers were told that the car’s power was ‘adequate’. With 522kW and 1017Nm on tap, the new Continental Supersports is the most adequate Bentley production model yet.

The maker calls it ‘the pinnacle grand tourer’, and ‘the world’s fastest and most powerful luxury four-seat car’; given that it’ll launch off the line to 100km/h in 3.5 seconds (an astonishing time for a car weighing 2280kg) and tops out at 336km/h, that may well be an understatement. Even the soft-top convertible model, 175kg heavier, is only two tenths slower to 100km/h.

The Continental’s signature six-litre W12 gets larger-capacity, high-performance turbos and a revised charge-air cooling system for an extra 59kW and 217Nm, with beefed-up main and big end bearings to handle the extra bang – peak outputs are now 522kW at 6000rpm and 1017Nm from 2050-4500rpm.

The standard exhaust plumbing has been revised for freer flow and a rifle-fire crackle on downshifts; available as an option is a titanium system that speaks with an even more authoritative voice and saves five kilograms in weight.

Torque vectoring

Power gets delivered to all four wheels via an eight-speed ZF paddle shift transmission with a new torque converter that locks up faster, to make the most of the extra torque. Default power split is 40 front/60 rear, with the ability to adjust that ratio depending on available traction.

The torque vectoring set-up, an upgraded version of the system introduced on the Continental GT3-R, unobtrusively brakes the inside wheels going into a corner, and brakes individual wheels as they begin to lose traction under acceleration coming out, diverting torque to the wheels with the most traction.

Braking is by courtesy of what Bentley says are the biggest carbon ceramic discs on any production car in the world – 420mm in front and 356mm at the rear, cross-drilled all round, behind lightweight 21 inch forged-alloy rims (each 5kg lighter than the cast aluminium rims on the standard Continental), shod with 275/35 radials.

She’s got the look

The Supersports comes with new front and rear bumpers incorporating a carbon-fibre splitter and diffuser respectively, new side sill extensions and bonnet vents – also finished in carbon-fibre – dark-tinted head and tail-lights and black chrome-finished exterior trim, including the grille.

Also available is an optional rear spoiler, which comes with an aerodynamically balanced front splitter

The three-colour interior trim includes a special Supersports steering wheel and gear lever with alcantara inserts, diamond-quilted stitching with embroidered Supersports emblems on the alcantara seats and door side panels, and chequered carbon-fibre fascia panels.

IOL Motoring

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