Bent­ley makes clean get­away

The Su­per­sports is not just pow­er­ful, it’s green, writes KEVIN HEP­WORTH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE staid im­age of Bent­ley is gone for­ever. Clean, green and ex­tremely mean is the mes­sage from the iconic Bri­tish lux­ury brand at this week’s Geneva Mo­tor Show.

Step­ping into the world of su­per­car per­for­mance while keep­ing a gen­tle­manly eye on the en­vi­ron­ment, the ex­treme 12-cylin­der Bent­ley, called the Con­ti­nen­tal GT Su­per­sports, is the com­pany’s most pow­er­ful model and the first to be E85 ethanol com­pli­ant.

The car has been built off the Con­ti­nen­tal GT un­der­pin­nings, us­ing the W12 en­gine as its power source. Con­vert­ing it to run on bioethanol pro­duces a power out­put of 463kW at 6000 revs and 800Nm from only 1700 revs.

Brian Gush, Bent­ley di­rec­tor of chas­sis and pow­er­train en­gi­neer­ing, says the en­gine will run on petrol alone or a petrol/bioethanol mix.

‘‘A so­phis­ti­cated fuel-sens­ing sys­tem en­sures power and torque re­main con­stant ir­re­spec­tive of the fuel ra­tio to give seam­less power de­liv­ery in the Bent­ley tra­di­tion,’’ he says.

The greener Bent­ley won’t let the grass grow un­der its tyres, ei­ther.

Bent­ley says the car will reach 100km/h in only 3.9 sec­onds and has a top speed of 329km/h.

Fuel use, not nor­mally some­thing Bent­ley buy­ers worry about, is 16.3 litres/100km com­bined. High­way run­ning will im­prove this to 11.6 litres/100km.

To cope with the high speeds the Su­pers­port’s chas­sis has an ar­ray of su­per­car en­hance­ments. Wheel arches are ex­tended by 25mm to ac­com­mo­date the up­graded chas­sis.

Weight has been trimmed by 110kg and the ride height low­ered, but the big two-seater still tips the scales at 2.2 tonnes. The com­plex, four-link front sus­pen­sion uses more light­weight alu­minium, mak­ing it 4kg lighter than the Con­ti­nen­tal’s con­ven­tional sus­pen­sion.

And stronger sus­pen­sion bushes are fit­ted to im­prove steer­ing re­sponse and feed­back.

The car’s anti-roll bar ge­om­e­try is re­tuned for im­proved roll stiff­ness, and the Ser­votronic speed-sen­si­tive steer­ing sys­tem is tuned for sharper turn-in, im­proved feel and lin­ear­ity.

The front and rear sus­pen­sions ben­e­fit from changes to the con­ti­nous damp­ing con­trol sys­tem that firms up body con­trol. In com­mon with the GT Speed, the Su­per­sports sus­pen­sion is lower by 10mm at the front and 15mm at the rear.

The car’s all-wheel-drive sys­tem has also been re­vised.

As be­fore, drive is trans­ferred be­tween the front and rear axles au­to­mat­i­cally via a Torsen cen­tre dif­fer­en­tial that au­to­mat­i­cally sends more power to the wheels with greater grip.

For the Su­per­sports, the stan­dard 50/50 front/rear torque split is re­placed by a rear-bias 40/60 split to im­prove ac­cel­er­a­tion out of bends.

Weight sav­ings also ap­ply to the wheels. The Su­per­sports is fit­ted with light­weight 20-inch forged al­loys that are 10kg lighter. They have 275/35 ZR20 Pirelli Ul­tra-High Per­for­mance tyres, shared with the Con­ti­nen­tal GT Speed.

To en­sure good top-speed han­dling, the Su­pers­port gets a re­pro­filed au­to­matic spoiler that de­ploys at speeds above 80km/h.

The in­te­rior is pure Bent­ley sports with race-styled bucket leather seats and di­a­mond-stitched Al­can­tarastyle in­serts in the en­velop­ing seats.

For the dash and non-leather sur­faces, car­bon-fi­bre dom­i­nates the stan­dard Bent­ley in­stru­ment lay­out with sat­nav screen, pre­mium sound sys­tem and a steer­ing wheel with no ob­vi­ous gear-shift pad­dles.

An­nounc­ing its eco-strat­egy in Fe­bru­ary last year, Bent­ley sign­posted bio or flex­fu­els as the way for­ward for its plans to re­duce car­bon emis­sions by 15 per cent and fuel con­sump­tion by 40 per cent.

Then, at last year’s Geneva show, Bent­ley CEO Franz-Josef Pae­f­gen com­mit­ted the com­pany to mak­ing its V8 and V12 en­gines re­new­able bio­fuel com­pat­i­ble.

Ex­treme mea­sures: Bent­ley’s clean and green Ex­treme con­cept launched at this week’s Geneva Mo­tor Show in Switzer­land.

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