Bentley Continental Supersports -- E85 Never Had it So Fast

By Editors on February 27, 2009 6:32 AM

Bentley has filled in the details on its first-ever flex-fuel road rager prior to the car's official showing at the Geneva Auto Show. Officially dubbed the Continental Supersports, this ultra-performance variation on the Continental GT will indeed be the most powerful car ever to wear the Bentley badge, and the fastest and cleanest as well. Adding biofuel capability to the package permitted output of the standard twin-turbocharged W12 engine to be increased from 600 to 621 horsepower and peak torque bumped from 553 to 590 lb.-ft. That added muscle -- plus a not-insignificant 242-lb. weight reduction - will allow the two-passenger Supersports to rocket from 0-60 mph in a claimed 3.7 seconds and hit 204 mph. Bentley says that when burning E85, this high-profile flyer can reduce its well-to-wheel CO2 emissions by up to 70 percent compared to running on gasoline. Preliminary EPA figures indicate that the car will return 13 mpg in the city and 23.8 mpg on the highway cycle.

Named after Bentley's original Supersports model -- a 3.0-liter/85-horsepower two-seater introduced in 1925 -- this modern-day reincarnation boasts a comprehensive upgrade of the Continental's running gear that includes more aggressive tuning of its steering, adaptive damping and all-wheel drive systems, massive carbon-ceramic brakes and Z-rated 275/35 Pirelli Ultra Performance tires on 20-inch custom alloys to help it cope with the extra firepower. Even the six-speed ZF automatic transmission gets a new trick, adding a Quickshift feature that trims change times by 50 percent and allows for double downshifts.

Visually, the Supersports proclaims its baddest Bentley status with a number of functional and cosmetic enhancements. Up front, bigger and bolder intakes help move 10 percent more air past the W12's more highly-stressed dual intercoolers while hood vents extract additional heat from the engine bay. In the rear, wider rear fenders accommodate a two-inch expansion of the Supersport's rear track. All of the car's exterior brightwork also gets a semi-sinister dark-smoked steel finish. Inside, the Supersports is a study in the light stuff, using carbon fiber for its seat frames, rear stowage deck cross beam and as a replacement for conventional wood veneer trims. However, the critical people contact points carry on in typical Bentley manner, covered in a combination of traditional and "soft-touch" leathers plus suede-like Alcantara. Pricing for the Continental Supersports will be announced at Geneva and deliveries are set to being in the fall. Flex-fuel versions for North America will start sometime in 2010.

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