What's New for 2011
The 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports gains a new convertible stablemate (reviewed separately) but the coupe returns unchanged.
The 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports seems trapped between two disparate worlds. In traditional Bentley fashion, it has all of the luxury trappings, 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 GT is already a potent performer in its own right, reaching 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 199 mph. The Supersports surpasses it with sharper handling, 0-60-mph acceleration in 3.8 seconds and a max speed of 204 mph. Impressive numbers, indeed, but one has to question these performance gains in the face of a $77,000 premium. And the Supersports cost is not just monetary.
In order to save weight, Bentley removed the backseats (their usefulness was questionable anyway) and firmed up the suspension tuning to the point that it 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 The manually operated seats may also be a letdown for some, as would be the outdated infotainment interface. 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 is similarly priced and offers a more balanced blend of luxury and performance. Ferrari's 458 Italia is marginally less expensive and offers more agility, as do the McLaren MP4-12C and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. And there's always the stalwart Porsche 911 lineup, with a wide spectrum of performance to fit a variety of tastes.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports is a two-seat high-performance version of the Continental GT coupe that is offered in a single well-appointed trim level.
Standard features include 20-inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes, a rear spoiler, bi-xenon headlamps, 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, a 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 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 GT's seats.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports 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. In Edmunds performance testing, the Supersports hit 60 mph from a standstill in 3.8 seconds on its way to its stated top speed of 204 mph. It's no surprise that 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 include antilock carbon-ceramic disc brakes, stability and traction control, and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the Supersports 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 opts for an upscale racy treatment. Carbon fiber and faux suede are used instead and the comfortable front seats have been pulled 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 that could possibly cause comfort issues for other drivers.
Seat 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. The trunk is generous by exotic GT standards and the lack of cramped rear seats will accommodate any cargo overflow. On the downside, though, the infotainment interface is woefully outdated.
Tipping the scales at approximately 5,000 pounds, the 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports is no featherweight. Yet in our testing the Supersports managed to run through our slalom course at 67.8 mph -- a speed comparable to the much lighter BMW M3 Convertible. It's an impressive feat, no doubt, but the car's heft doesn'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.