It is at first a puzzling car to drive. The Supersports name makes a promise backed by the carbonfibre trim, bonnet vents, rear wing and Alcantara-lined interior. But the car appears to have another agenda, which is simply to make you feel like an artillery shell fired from a large field gun every time you put your foot down. Ignore the 3.4sec 0-60mph time, for that is a function of traction as much as torque. It is the 7.2sec 0-100mph time that establishes this Supersports as Bentley’s first ultra-high performance road car. That’s quicker than we recorded for the new Honda NSX, Mercedes-AMG GT S and the latest Nissan GT-R. The last Supersports needed 8.9sec to do the same. And it does it because those big blowers don’t just allow the Supersports to alter the rotation of the earth at low rpm, but they also allow the motor to bang into its rev-limiter with unprecedented ferocity at its top end. Torque and power, power and torque.
But it’s frustrating, too. For 14 years, the Continental GT has, in all its myriad guises, always been stronger in engine than chassis. And to lavish such additional riches on the former while leaving the latter clutching at straws – it has the torque vectoring system first used on the GT3-R now fully integrated with the traction and stability control systems – serves only to accentuate the disparity between the two. Additional power and torque can bring alive the chassis of some cars, but they tend to be those with a pre-existing surfeit of grip over power – like the Porsche Cayman. In almost 2.3 tonnes of nose-heavy Bentley, this was never going to be the case.
So you have to adapt your style of driving to suit the car, a necessary evil I resent in any machine. Despite its enormous ceramic brake discs, you have be conservative with your braking and overstop the car before turning in. Do so on a trailing throttle and you can feel the torque vectoring braking the inside rear wheel to tuck you into the apex, but it will still run wide if you are ambitious with entry speed. Only when you do it Bentley’s way – slow in, fast out – does it all start to make sense. The vectoring works far better driving away from the apex, you can sense incipient understeer and the system functioning effectively to quell it. Lift off the throttle and it will also adjust its line quite pleasantly and precisely, impressively so for a car of this heft. And it’s actually very good in fast curves – you just aim for an early apex, lob the car in as you ease off the gas and get back on the power as soon as you can.
But regardless of its name, to drive, this is not a true sports car, let alone a super sports machine. Like every other Bentley of the last 86 years, it is a high tourer – albeit one possessing ultra-high performance - and there is nothing inherently wrong with that, for while the attributes it brings are less headline hungry, they are no less valuable.
For instance, despite its enormous 21in forged alloy rims, the Bentley rides exquisitely well. It’s wonderfully quiet at motorway speeds and you know you could drive all day and night in its enormous seats and emerge without an ache. Add in the immense sense of engineering integrity and that unique Bentley sense of solidity, and it’s easy to see how the whole package could appeal to a certain constituency of well-heeled customer even at £212,500, particularly as Bentley is limiting production to 710 units (its power output in PS). After all, Bentley sold all they could make of the last Supersports (about 1800 in the end), even though it was around £30,000 cheaper than this model in real terms.