2011 Bentley Continental Supersports road test - Andrew Noakes - Motoring Writer

Bentleys have always been powerful and fast, and this is the fastest and most powerful car the Crewe company has ever built. The Continental Supersports is a more extreme, two-seater version of the Continental GT with more power, a new transmission and less weight, resulting in performance figures which are extraordinary even by Bentley standards.

Like the rest of the Continental range (there's the GT, a new GTC convertible and the Flying Spur four-door saloon) the Supersports has a 6.0-litre W12 engine, an unusual configuration which is like a pair of V6s merged together. In Supersports form the engine gains 54bhp, taking the total to a mammoth 621bhp. Coupled with a new automatic gearbox which cuts shift times in half, it's enough to propel the big Bentley coupé from rest to 60mph in just 3.7 seconds, and if you can find a road long enough and straight enough it will go on to a top speed of 204mph.

Massive carbon-ceramic disc brakes provide fade-free stopping and save weight, contributing to the 110kg weight advantage the Supersports has over the regular Continental GT. You can feel the difference on the road: the Supersports is more agile and changes direction with an extra keenness, aided by retuned steering and suspension, and a revised four-wheel drive system which sends more power to the rear wheels. Yet it still offers excellent ride comfort and limousine-like refinement when ambling along at low speeds.

Bigger air intakes and flared rear wings (to accommodate a 50mm increase in rear track, for added grip and stability) set the Superports apart from outside. It also has a dark finish for the grilles, lamp bezels, window surrounds and wheels, the stainless steel trim parts being finished using a process called Physical Vapour Deposition more commonly used on machine tools and high-end watches. Inside, there are excellent sports seats and modern carbon fibre trim, in place of the more traditional wood veneers.

Beyond its amazing performance figures and faultless craftsmanship inside and out, the Bentley Continental Supersports also shows that even fast, expensive cars can give a nod towards environmental responsibility. The Supersports was the first 'FlexFuel' Bentley, able to run on petrol, E85 biofuel or any combination of the two – and by next year all Bentleys will offer the same capability.

There's a lot to like about the Supersports. Never mind the £170k price tag – the fastest Bentley of all is actually a bit of a bargain.

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