Billed as "the fastest four-seat convertible in the world," the 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible will serve as the centerpiece of the automaker's display in Geneva. Spawned from its existing Supersports Coupe, this open-air overachiever matches all of that car's functional brilliance with an even more striking sense of style. Although hardly a lightweight in the conventional sense, the widespread use of various lightweight materials throughout reduces its curb weight by nearly 200 pounds compared to a standard Continental GTC Speed model.
Like its closed counterpart, the new Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible packs a 6.0-liter/621-horsepower twin-turbo W12 beneath its purposefully-vented hood. Like the engine in all variations of the 2011 Continental range, it's a FlexFuel W12 that can burn E85 or any range of other mixes with no loss of output. In Supersports guise, it develops a stout 590 lb.-ft. of peak torque; and backed by a modified ZF six-speed automatic that deliver 50-percent quicker gear changes and allows double downshifts, it also can take this blazingly quick Bentley drop-top from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, from 0-100 mph in 9.6 ticks and on to a top end of 202 mph.
Although custom-tailored for this specific application, virtually every element underpinning the 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible benefits from the sweeping revisions originally devised for its Coupe kin. The Continuous Damping Control has been stiffened and tautened, the stability control and steering maps revised, a 40/60 rear-bias torque split dialed into its all-wheel drive system and mass-reducing/fade-resisting carbon-ceramic brakes added to bolster its stopping power. Like the ultra-Coupe, the Convertible's rear track also has been opened up by about two inches and it grips the road even more tenaciously thanks to 275/35 Pirelli Ultra High Performance tires on special lightweight 20-inch alloy wheels.
While keeping all of the Supersports Coupe's more aggressive bodywork bits, the Convertible does wear its own specific crowning element: a triple-layer power-activated soft top. Inside, there's an equally significant difference, as Bentley opted to double the amount of passenger pleasure by adding two more -- admittedly rather diminutive -- individual rear seats. Save for swapping a package shelf for more people space, the Supersports Convertible boasts a similar combination of satin-finish carbon fiber, diamond-quilted Alcantara and conventional leather.
Although pricing has not been finalized, the 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible is expected to command about a $20,000 premium over the cost of a Supersports Coupe. If so, it should open in the $290,000-$300,000 range when the first cars start arriving here in July.