What's New for 2011
The 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible is a new model.
The 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible seems trapped between two disparate worlds. In traditional Bentley fashion, it has all of the luxury trappings expected of the marque. But in a departure from pampered opulence, it also attempts to stand with high-performance exotic sports cars. In the end, it seems that too many compromises were made on each end of the spectrum.
The "regular" Continental GTC is already a potent performer in its own right, reaching 60 mph in less than 5.0 seconds and a top speed of 199 mph. The Supersports Convertible surpasses it with sharper handling, quicker acceleration and a top speed in excess of 200 mph. But one has to question these performance gains in the face of a $74,800 premium. And the Supersports Convertible's cost is not just monetary.
The Supersports' firmer suspension settings may be jarring for some -- even for more performance-minded drivers. The manually operated seats may also be a letdown for some, as would be the outdated infotainment interface. Trunk space is also compromised to make room for the folding soft top. Furthermore, it's fairly likely that the next Continental Supersports will adopt many of the 2012 Continental GT's improvements.
The prospect of purchasing "last year's" Bentley may be enough to nudge buyers in the direction of true exotic sports cars. The Aston Martin DBS convertible is similarly priced and offers a more balanced blend of luxury and performance. Ferrari's California isn't as powerful but offers more agility and a retractable hardtop. And there's always the stalwart Porsche 911 lineup, with a wide spectrum of performance to fit a variety of tastes. Still, with only 80 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertibles slated to be imported to the United States, at least exclusivity will be guaranteed.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible is a high-performance, drop-top version of the Continental GT coupe that is offered in a single well-appointed trim level. Standard features includes 20-inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes, a rear spoiler, bi-xenon headlamps, a power folding top, parking sensors, unique exterior styling, automatic wipers, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rear parcel shelf, four-way manual lightweight front seats (mounted to the owner's preferred driving position), faux-suede upholstery and trim, sport steering wheel, carbon-fiber trim, Bluetooth, a navigation system and a 10-speaker stereo with an iPod interface and a lifetime satellite radio subscription.
There are fewer options available on the lightweight, performance-oriented Supersports Convertible compared to the regular GT. Still, options include a power trunk, a rearview camera, multiple two-tone interior color choices, a 15-speaker Naim premium audio system and the option to reinstall the regular Continental GTC's seats.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible is powered by a 6.0-liter W12 that produces a whopping 621 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard. We haven't tested the convertible, but during Edmunds testing the Supersports coupe hit 60 mph from a standstill in 3.8 seconds. Understandably, fuel economy is poor, at an EPA-estimated 12 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.
Standard safety features for the Continental Supersports Convertible include antilock carbon-ceramic disc brakes and both stability and traction control. In Edmunds brake testing, a Supersports coupe came to a stop from 60 mph in a very short 109 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
Whereas traditional Bentleys feature swaths of rich leather and impeccable wood veneers, the Continental Supersports Convertible opts for a racy, decidedly upscale treatment. Carbon fiber and faux suede are used instead and the comfortable front seats have been discarded in favor of lightweight racing buckets. Unfortunately, these seats do not feature power adjustments, nor are they height-adjustable. Bentley will custom fit the seats to the driver, but this could possibly cause comfort issues for other drivers.
Unlike the coupe, the convertible features two rear seats instead of a parcel shelf, but these seats lack an acceptable amount of legroom. That parcel shelf would probably come in handy, too, since the convertible's trunk can only hold 7 cubic feet of cargo -- about half of the coupe's and 2 cubes less than the regular Continental GTC.
Seat and trunk issues aside, the Supersports' interior is as beautifully made as any other Bentley. Every element of the cabin seems as though it were artfully created by a master craftsman, whether it's the knurled chrome switchgear or expertly laid carbon fiber. On the downside, though, the infotainment interface is woefully outdated.
Tipping the scales at 5,280 pounds, the 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible is no featherweight. The Coupe, however, managed to run through our slalom course at 67.8 mph -- which is comparable to the much lighter BMW M3 Convertible. We expect the Supersports Convertible won't be too far off the pace.
It's an impressive feat, no doubt, but the car's heft didn't go unnoticed. Those accustomed to the plush Bentley ride quality may be in for a bit of a surprise, too, as the Supersports' firmness is considerably less luxurious -- regardless of which suspension setting you choose.