Bentley is planning a 650bhp-plus Continental Supersports model for launch around 2014 as a new high-performance flagship coupé.

The lightweight model is expected to feature carbonfibre panels, stiffer suspension and possibly a stripped-out cabin, plus more power from its twin-turbo W12.

A Supersports was launched in autumn 2009 ahead of the run-out of the previous-gen Continental GT, but the new car will become a long-term feature of the line-up.

The Supersports will bridge the gap from today’s 616bhp Speed model to the eagerly anticipated, 675bhp-plus, road-going Continental GT3 that Bentley plans to launch in 2015 alongside a race-ready Continental GT3 customer car.

Like Porsche, which often differentiates models with quite small power hikes, the Supersports is likely to feature a relatively modest 30bhp or so increase over the Speed.

“There is a limit to how much power can sensibly be extracted, so the Supersports wouldn’t be all about pure power,” said a Bentley source.

In turn, the rest of its improvements would focus on cutting the kerb weight, sharpening gearchange speeds, revising the chassis settings and improving braking power.

All the changes would be focused on a keener driving experience with sharper steering and handling, firmer body control and a sportier exhaust note to mark the Supersports as a more focused driver’s machine.

To get the weight down, Bentley is understood to be planning carbonfibre body panels, lightweight composite seats and possibly stripping out the rear seats to make a two-seat cabin.