First DriveDrop-top version of Bentley's fastest-ever Continental GT blends thunderous performance with sublime posing potential
First DriveOur favourite drop-top Continental GT variant gets even better thanks to a raft of engine, suspension and aero tweaks
What is it?
Earlier this year, four times WRC champion Juha Kankkunen drove a Bentley Continental Supersports at 205mph on a frozen stretch of the Baltic Sea. Bentley is producing 100 of these catchily titled Bentley Continental Supersports Ice Speed Record, or ‘ISR’, cars in celebration of the Guinness World Record he recorded.
The ISR is many things: at £189,550 it is the most expensive Continental yet produced, and thanks to the 631bhp torrent of power from of its six-litre twin turbo, 12 cylinder motor, it’s also the most powerful Bentley in the company’s 92 year history. Moreover it hits 60mph in 3.8sec which means it is also the most accelerative convertible ever to wear the wings.
To make sure you don’t mistake it for the common-or-garden standard convertible Supersports, the ISR has what even Bentley describes as ‘dramatically extrovert’ styling. On the outside that means black or white paint, and a grey metallic finish to its roof.
Inside, the cabin is dominated by slabs of red carbon fibre with red piping or stitching on the seats, doors, steering wheel and the paddle shifts. Even the Breitling clock has turned red. Meanwhile Alcantara replaces leather on the doors and parts of the seats. Completing the £7450 upgrade package is the new touchscreen navigation system from new generation of Continental GT.
All of the ISR's most garish adornments are both optional and free.
What's it like?
Dynamically it is extraordinary: not because it sets new standards for performance or handling because it doesn’t, but instead for how good it is given its 2395kg weight. It should be the world’s fastest pudding, but it’s not: so long as you stay away from the limit it’s poised, fluent and fast.
Only when you really start lobbing it around does it fall victim to its avoirdupois. You have to adopt a slow-in, fast-out approach to keep the car on line and make the most of its prodigious traction.
But the result is still a car that feels just a little uneasy in its new skin. It looks like it wants to be a true sports car yet it’s at its best touring the wide open spaces where you can make the most of its phenomenal performance and are affected least by the limitations of its weight.
Should I buy one?
The small upgrade in power is welcome, but I still cannot avoid concluding that if you want a Bentley for touring, the new GTC would be better by far, and if you want one for driving you should choose a Supersports coupe. This attempt to combine the best of both is successful only in parts.
Bentley Continental Supersports ISR
Price: £189,550; 0-60mph: 3.8sec; Top speed: 202mph; Kerb weight: 2395kg; Economy: 17.3mpg; Co2: 388g/km; Engine: W12, 5995cc, petrol, twin turbocharged, longitudinal, four-wheel drive; Max power: 631bhp at 6000rpm; Max torque: 590lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox: 6-speed auto.