Bentley makes clean getaway
The Supersports is not just powerful, it’s green, writes KEVIN HEPWORTH
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.