A more focused V8-powered Bentley Continental Supersports, based on this test mule, will await the production go-ahead from new company boss Wolfgang Dürheimer when he returns to Crewe in June.
The hotter Supersports model is being developed as a potential marketing spin-off of Bentley’s return to motorsport in GT3 sports cars, with a race car revealed at Paris in 2012.
The road car idea has evolved since then - when it was understood to be planned as a W12-engined variant with a possible 700bhp output - to being a more usable everyday car based on Bentley’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8.
Months before the GT3 was revealed, then-boss Dürheimer moved to Audi, before being sidelined in a political spat, and he is now due back at Crewe in two months’ time, with projects like the Supersports in his in-tray for sign-off.
Although Bentley says the extreme variant was never planned, Autocar sources have reported that the GT3 road car was under consideration alongside the race variant, with a 2015 launch date pencilled in.
Officially, Bentley maintains that the Supersports is still not signed off and that this test mule is “looking at possibilities of what we might be able to do in future”.
Bentley’s mule is said to be a modified version of an early V8 engineering car, which, it says, is why the rear lights are not decorated with chrome trim surrounds. The peak power of the 4.0-litre V8 might be around 545bhp, about 25bhp higher than the 521bhp V8 S.
Pricing has yet to be discussed at Bentley, although a slot around £145,000 is open in the Bentley line-up between the £139,000 W12 and range-topping £156,000 W12 Speed.