Bentley is fast moving from its luxury car tag to that of a supercar brand with the latest release of its Continental Supersports Convertible – the fastest four-seater convertible on the road. The new Supersports has the same 630PS (621bhp/463kW) twin-turbocharged W12 engine as the Continental Supersports Coupé introduced in 2009. Bentley says this is the fastest, most potent drop-top the company has ever built - 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds (0-100kmh in 4.2 seconds) and a top speed of 202mph (325kmh).
The two-door, four-seat Supersports Convertible is unmistakably Bentley in its design and craftsmanship, but its interior is a different style of Bentley luxury … satin-finished carbon fiber, Alcantara and “soft grip” leather mix distinctly sporting and contemporary style. Alcantara is favored by racing teams for its ability to provide additional grip under extreme conditions, such as cornering. But it is also sensational to look at. The Alcantara applied to the rear compartment, door panels and seat facings is quilted and, in the Supersports, marks the return of the much smaller ‘diamond’ upholstery pattern from Bentleys of old.
Bentley says all models in its Continental range, including the new Supersports Convertible, can run on petrol and E85 bioethanol or any combination of the two, reaffirming the company’s ongoing commitment to make all its cars bio-fuel compatible by 2012.
According to Bentley, FlexFuel technology offers a reduction of up to 70 percent in CO2 emissions on a ‘well-to-wheel’ basis, a measure of a fuel’s net contribution to the atmosphere, not just tailpipe emissions. To avoid any compromise in power delivery, the on-board fuel supply system detects the blending ratio of the fuel in the tank and ensures that power and torque remain constant regardless of the ratio of petrol to biofuel.
The ‘Supersports’ takes its name from the 1925 Bentley Supersports, a race-bred version of the iconic Bentley 3-liter, that delivered 85bhp when ordinary cars were equipped with only 15bhp. It was also the first production car to reach 100mph.
“The new Supersports Convertible blends thrilling performance and dramatic styling with luxury and practicality in the Bentley open-top tradition. Extreme power combines with pioneering FlexFuel technology, now shared with all Continental models, reflecting Bentley’s ongoing commitment to more environmental motoring,” said Bentley Chairman and Chief Executive Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen.
Bentley has revised the ZF 6HP26 transmission with the ‘Quickshift’ system that cuts shift times by 50 percent and enables double downshifts. A new 40/60 rear-biased torque split for the all-wheel drive system reduces under-steer when powering out of bends and provides for better modulation of line and attitude by ‘throttle steering’. Stiffer suspension bushes and uprated rear anti-roll bar aid body control, steering response, turn-in and balance, while an extra 50mm rear track improves grip and stability.
The convertible runs on lightweight, 20-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels offer 10kg (22lb) weight saving per car, reducing unsprung and rotating mass and improving brake cooling. The tires are 275/35 ZR20 Pirelli Ultra High Performance.
Standard-fit carbon-ceramic brakes provide fade-free braking and contribute a 20kg (44lb) reduction in rotating and unsprung mass from the front axle.
The Continental Supersports Convertible retains the distinctive center air intake and vertical grilles that feed a larger volume of air (+ 10 percent) to turbocharger intercoolers while the bonnet vents extract hot air from the engine bay. The newly-tooled side panels accommodate the increased rear track of the uprated chassis and deliver its muscular stance.
The exterior also incorporates the first automotive application of ‘Physical Vapor Deposition’ to stainless steel. Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) is a complex and time-consuming process that involves vaporized metal being deposited onto the surface of, in this case, stainless steel.
Giving a darker, more solid appearance, it is the first application of a PVD finish on stainless steel in the car industry. In addition to the Smoked Steel finishes, a gloss black finish to the headlamp casings and rear lamp clusters gives the Supersports convertible’s distinctive face and muscular rear additional visual impact, says Bentley.
Other features include: larger, twin elliptical exhaust tailpipes and rear valance; fixed rear trunklid; driver-focused, four-seat cabin; and lightweight, carbon fiber, front sports seats that save 45kg (99lb) per car.
Six new colors have been added to the Bentley palette (Citric, White Satin, Kingfisher, Magenta, Orange Flame and St James Red Pearl)
Convenience Packs are available for all Continental models and include features such as Adaptive Cruise Control with a ‘Follow to Stop’ feature, an iPod interface, front seat massage function, telephone handsets, rear-view camera and valet key.
The Supersports Convertible occupies a position within the Bentley portfolio which is all its own, as Raul Pires, Head of Exterior Design, explains.
“The Supersports Convertible and Coupé are the ultimate driver’s Bentleys and that is reflected in unique design cues that provide a bold, sporting look, from whatever angle the cars are admired. Even from 50m behind on a dark road, you can just tell it’s a Supersports.”
No word yet on pricing or availability.
Body and Chassis
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