Just been out for an ‘engineering drive’ in a late prototype of the Bentley Supersports. The one Derek Bell drove at Goodwood. The development chief says it’s a Ferrari 599 rival. Well yes, it was a wet day on difficult Cheshire roads, and I don’t think a 599 would have kept up.
The Supersports is due on sale late this year. It’s a serious makeover of the Continental GT. Which is why the GT bit of the name has been dropped. It’s 110kg lighter than a GT Speed for a start, which, together with a power upgrade to 620bhp and a faster-shifting autobox, gets the 0-60 time comfortably under four seconds.
The pork has fallen off because there’s no back seat, and the front ones are simple carbon-hull buckets. The wheels and suspension are lightened too.
The suspension is stiffer and better damped. The drive is more rear-biased than before. The rear track is wider so the body even gets new rear wings. The front end looks far meaner, its gobbling intakes channeling extra air to the intercoolers. See? Big changes.
And it feels a lot different. Somehow the sense is of rather more than 110kg having fallen off. There’s a whole new agility: it carves into every corner with urgency and flatness. Get on the throttle and it subtly alters its line, aiming you in towards the apex rather than out away from it. This is no understeering barge. And yes, the 4WD means wet-road traction is immense.
Paradoxically this is being billed as the ‘green Bentley’ and not just as the Ferrari-eating Bentley. How come? because it’s the first Bentley to run on biofuel. But don’t worry, you don’t have to fill it with hard-to-find ethanol. You can use petrol and the performance, thanks to some clever engine management, will be equally brutal.
Look, it’s no Audi R8 V10. It’s still a big front-engined coupe that can act the GT when you set the slushbox to ‘auto’ and the air suspension to ‘comfort’. But on this brief impression, it can wear the mask of a supercar when it needs to.