Vail Daily car review: The unbelievable Bentley Continental Supersports
Vail Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
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 still 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.
The Supersports, as a result, is a strange and wild beast, a fantastically beautiful, mind-warpingly 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 gear changes in less than an eyeblink – 20 milliseconds.
The 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 Highway 125, south of Walden, on a Tuesday), the Supersports will very handily reach its 204 mile per hour maximum speed in about the same time it took the BMW M3 to hit its 155 mph top end.
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.
If you’d like to drown out the low-speed burbling of the gigantic motor or the high-speed, jet-engine noises of the exhaust, flip on the optional 1,100 watt, 15-speaker Naim stereo and you’ll get more noise than a nightclub. Or, thanks to the double-layered glass and sound insulation, you can roll along at highway speed and have a perfectly quiet conversation. Select the comfort setting for the air suspension and your basic ride is subtly road-sensitive; dial it up to sport and you’re ready for action.
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.
I’m normally a firm believer in not-so-delicately thrashing a test vehicle, but the Supersports had me completely vexed. The couple of times I put the pedal to the metal for the very enthusiastic group of passengers I loaded onboard, we found all the blood rushing out of our heads and time and space-time starting to blue-shift around us.
Moreover, heading out to my secret, curvy mountain test route, I simply couldn’t muster the nerve to run the big Bentley fully and mercilessly into the corners. Its great mass does indeed require the upmost in respect, as gentle and graceful a rocket-powered elephant as it might be.
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 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 vouchsafe 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.