What is it?
The same formula successfully applied to the Bentley Continental GT to turn it into the Supersports has now been applied to the soft-top. Which means, more power, less weight and a host of technical and cosmetic improvements, all of which now make it the fastest open-top Bentley in history.
And, theoretically at least, the sort of Bentley that you may wish to hurtle around a track in. Or more likely just be happy in the knowledge that you could if you wanted to.
Just like the Coupe version in fact, with the one key difference that you can take three friends with you. The hard-top version does without rear seats, a weight saving which Bentley has sensibly ignored in the cloth-top. That said, it’s still got a useful 90kgs less lard, even if it remains very much the wrong side of two tonnes.
At least there’s plenty of shove to haul that mass around: the W12 now puts out 621bhp and 590lb ft of torque which is enough to spirit it to 202mph.
The myriad chassis changes include a reprogrammed four-wheel drive system so that 60 per cent of torque is now sent to the rear wheels in normal driving conditions. The electronic dampers have been reprogrammed, and the anti-rear roll roll has been beefed up. There’s also a wider track. All of which promises the same sharper, more spirited drive that we’ve already experienced in the coupe.
As with the coupe you also get plenty of cosmetic enhancements, including flared rear wings, more aggressive looking front bodywork and plenty of cabin detailing informing you that you’re riding in the sportiest open-top Continental.
These details include the same special, thinner yet extremely comfortable seats as in the Supersports Coupe and a dash and centre-console trimmed in carbonfibre, rather than the traditional wood panels.
It's also capable of running on E85 biofuel.
What’s it like?
The big question is whether the open-top bodystyle is at odds with the Supersports philosophy. Are all the things we liked about the hard top diluted with the roof removed?
It only takes a few hundred metres behind the wheel to discover that it’s not quite so aggressive as the coupe, not quite so raw. But Bentley’s engineers saw that as being more in keeping with an open-top.
It’s still a remarkably swift and sure-footed car and one that hides its mass well too. Its body control and steering precision are superb, especially when you consider what it is you’re throwing around corners. And you’d have to have a screw loose to approach its limits of traction on a public road, even in foul conditions.
The duality of the Supersports Convertible is part of its appeal to me. You feel the odd wobble, but for most part it has a supple ride and, roof up or down, it does a good job of masking the elements. Yet a NASCAR exhaust note is only a throttle prod or gearchange away. And the sure footedness means you cover ground almost indecently quickly.
Downsides are few. Of course there’s the price tag and running costs of a car like this. But if you’ve got the wherewithal you still may find the rear seats a little limiting. Most adults are going to feel cramped and claustrophobic after a few miles, especially with the hood up. Some of the cabin controls look and feel dated now too, especially the infotainment system.