Pictured above is the brand-new Bentley Continental SuperSports. If you’ve been following the Bentley Continental GT lineage over the last decade, this will cause you to yawn. There have been many special edition Bentley Continental GT models. The GT3-R. The Mulliner. The Speed. The Le Mans Edition. In fact, there was even an earlier one called the SuperSports.
But this particular SuperSports is special, because this particular SuperSports is the Bentley Hellcat.
Allow me to explain. Bentley is known for making luxurious, comfortable, leather-lined cruisers designed to travel long distances in relatively short times. Fine. But this car is all that, and it also has 700 horsepower and 750 lb-ft of torque. It’s the fastest and most powerful Bentley in history. It does zero to 60 in 3.4 seconds, which is quicker than a Carrera GT — even though it weighs as much as a Toyota Camry plus a Lotus Elise. Basically, they took the standard car, they went mental with horsepower, and then they foisted it on the automobile-consuming public with little more than a “good luck.” Just like the Hellcat.
Admittedly, the Bentley is a little more controllable than the Hellcat, but it’s also massively fast. This car will do 209 miles per hour. I still find that hard to believe. Top speed isn’t much of a “thing” anymore, but when I was a kid, a car that did 190 was amazingly fast. Two hundred was reserved for the best supercars, and some of them didn’t even hit that figure. This thing is only a few miles per hour short of the Ferrari Enzo. In a Bentley! With hand stitching! And an infotainment system! And a finely crafted Breitling clock on the dashboard!
The opportunity to drive the Continental SuperSports came to me from Bentley Tysons Corner, the Bentley dealer in the Washington, D.C., area, who happened to receive the very first one for sale in the entire country. Bentley says they’re making 710 SuperSports models for the entire world, but only something like 65 SuperSports coupes will come to the United States (they’re also making a convertible that will “only” do 205 miles per hour). And so, even though this is “just” another special edition of the Continental GT … it’s the most special edition of the Continental GT. It made me feel special as I drove it, briefly, around Northern Virginia.
Here’s what I discovered about this car: It’s fast. Very fast. Raucously fast. Car enthusiasts mostly don’t discuss Bentley because they consider it to be a brand for older people who want a nice ride — but as Bentley adds more and more power to these things, it’s hard to ignore the ensuing performance. Just think about it: 3.4 seconds to 60 mph and a top speed of 209 is really “insane supercar” territory.
So when I drove it around and I pushed the pedal to the floor, what I discovered is that this car puts an enormous smile on your face. Obviously, you’re thrilled by the speed, which is excellent. But you’re also thrilled by the speed given the car’s size. You mash down the throttle and you’re not just going fast in a sports car, which is relatively easier to get going quickly; you’re going fast in a giant leather-lined cocoon of a GT car. And by “fast,” I mean truly, laughably, insanely fast. It’s a tremendous experience, and doing zero to 60 in this car almost feels more impressive than a faster time in something that’s more “obviously” sporty.
Handling, surprisingly, is also impressive. Yes, you feel the car’s massive weight when you go around corners — and yes, the steering is too light. But the car stays flat even in the tightest turns, and the size is manageable. No, you shouldn’t expect sports-car handling — but you also won’t feel like you’re piloting the giant luxury car that, well, you are.
And then, of course, there’s the interior. Even though this car puts up supercar numbers, the interior is still the same gorgeous, ultra-opulent, highly comfortable fare Bentley puts in most of their vehicles. There’s hand stitching everywhere. And alcantara. And leather. And chrome. And aluminum. And carbon fiber. And a level of quality that ensures none of this stuff squeaks, or rattles, or shakes, or jiggles when you go over even the harshest of bumps.
Are there problems with the SuperSports? Of course. One is the obviously aging Continental GT design, which came out more than a decade ago — a fact that’s underscored by some ancient touches like a fold-away key. Yes, this car has a start/stop button, but the key is still there — and so is a true keyhole, mounted to the left of the steering wheel. It’s also down on some of the latest technology (don’t expect any lane-keep assist here), and let’s be honest: Carbon fiber accents to “save weight” on a 5,300-pound car are just laughable.
And then, of course, there’s the price tag: $310,000 for the privilege of driving around in this — the best Continental GT of them all. That’s massively expensive, especially when you consider that a base model starts somewhere around $200,000. Is it worth it? For 710 people who want a luxury car that out-accelerates the supercars they also undoubtedly have in their garage, the answer is yes. And after spending a few hours in the SuperSports, it’s hard to blame them.
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.
Also published on Medium.