Geneva Motor Show: 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 28, 2010

Sales start in June for Bentley's new Continental Supersports Convertible the fastest and most powerful open-top Bentley ever. Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, this convertible will cost from £178,300. Supersports models are known to be the most extreme interpretations of the Continental.

The name is actually derived from 1925's Bentley Supersports, the fastest and most powerful car of that era. Powering the car is a twin-turbocharged W12 engine, which produces 621bhp and 590lb ft of torque. From a standstill, it can get to 60mph in 3.9sec and to 100mph in only 9.6sec.

Top speed is 202mph. Power is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed ZF Quickshift automatic gearbox, which cuts shift times to only 93 milliseconds and allows double downshifts.

Similar to the Supersports coupe released last year, Bentley has reduced the weight of the four-seat Supersports Convertible over the standard car.

About 100kg has been cut off the base car's 2485kg kerb weight, through the use of lightweight 20-inch alloys, carbon-ceramic brakes, lightweight seats and carbonfiber in its cabin.

The Supersports Convertible benefits from the carmaker's FlexFuel technology, which makes it run on petrol, E85 biofuel or any mix of the two.

Bentley claims that FlexFuel reduces well to wheel emissions by 70%. It also said that the technology will be offered throughout the Continental range from the 2011 model year.

Exterior Design

The Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible has had some significant changes with new engineering concepts dictating its design. This progress in the design is a good example of function following form. One such change is with the bonnet vents and the front air intakes which help improve both airflow and cooling.

The flared rear wings meanwhile are able to house a wider rear track. Another important design change is the bootlid spoiler which ensures aerodynamic balance even at high speeds. The reason why there was a need to increase the airflow to the cooling systems and twin turbocharger intercoolers by an extra 10% was because of the added power and torque provided by the W12 engine.

In addition, owing to the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics techniques, designers at Bentley included large vertical intake apertures, which may appear to be dramatic but do serve a purpose. To make sure that there is air extraction, twin bonnet vents have been added as well.

Since the flared rear wings are able to accommodate a rear track that measures 50 mm, around 2 inches, it has been designed in a way that it highlights its powerful stance. As such, the Supersports convertible has the look of the Continental GTC but with a muscular and low appearance that showcases its extreme character.

According to Head of Exterior Design Raul Pires, while the Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible is similar to the other Coupés in the Bentley line, it has a position in the portfolio that is all its own. On the front of the Supersports, the lower grille, dual bonnet, and radiator, all have a Smoked Steel finish.

This is attributed to the Physical Vapour Deposition. This is the same technology that is utilized when a coating is applied to specialized industrial tools or even watches. This process is seen as both time-consuming and complex as it needs metal to be vaporized then deposited to a surface like that of stainless steel.

Using this type of finish is considered as the first in the auto industry. It is what gives the car a more solid and darker appearance. Aside from this, the casings of the headlamp and lamp clusters in the rear have a glass black finish. The result is that the convertible has a unique face and muscular rear in addition to enhancing the visual impact.

Press Release

Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible

The Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible further strengthens Bentley's supercar range, following the introduction of the Bentley Continental Supersports Coupé in 2009. The new Supersports Convertible, with the same 630PS (621bhp/463kW) twin-turbocharged W12 engine, is the fastest, most potent drop-top Bentley has ever built, offering the ultimate Bentley driving experience in the world's most dramatic convertible.

The inspiration for the 'Supersports' name is the 1925 Bentley Supersports, a race-bred version of the iconic Bentley 3-litre, that delivered 85bhp when more ordinary cars were equipped with a modest 15bhp. It was also the first production car to reach 100mph - extreme performance in its day.

The new, muscular four-seat Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible is unmistakably Bentley in its design and craftsmanship but its interiorsignifies a dramatic re-interpretation of Bentley luxury. Satin-finished carbon fibre,Alcantara™and 'Soft Grip' leather create a unique ambience with a distinctly sporting and contemporary style.

All models in the Continental model range, including the new Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible are now capable of running on both petrol (gasoline) and E85 bioethanol or any combination of the two, reaffirming Bentley's ongoing commitment to make all its cars bio-fuel compatible by 2012. Pioneered by the Supersports Coupe, this FlexFuel technology offers a reduction of up to 70 per cent in CO2 emissions on a 'well-to-wheel' basis, a measure of a fuel's net contribution to the atmosphere, not just tailpipe emissions.

To ensure seamless power delivery, the on-board fuel supply system detects the blending ratio of the fuel in the tank and ensures that power and torque remain constant regardless of the ratio of petrol to biofuel.

Bentley Chairman and Chief Executive Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen welcomes the new addition to the Bentley range, as well as the standardisation of the FlexFuel W12 engine on all 2011 Continental models:

"The new Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible blends thrilling performance and dramatic styling with luxury and practicality in the Bentley open-top tradition. Extreme power combines with pioneering FlexFuel technology, now shared with all Continental models, reflecting Bentley's ongoing commitment to more environmental motoring."

The Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible - In Detail

The new Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible is a car that must be driven to be fully understood. Behind the wheel it is immediately clear that a Supersports Bentley is a 'fusion of extremes' - the ultimate in extreme performance, every day practicality and unrivalled hand-crafted luxury.

Bentley's Supersports programme began as an 'under the radar' project exploring the possibilities of weight reduction on the Continental GT Coupé but with more power and torque. The largely experimental project soon crystallised into an official new car programme, driven by the passion and enthusiasm of a small group of Bentley engineers and designers. Now the Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible has received the same focus and the results are equally dramatic. Dr Ulrich Eichhorn, Member of the Board, Engineering explains the thinking behind the project:

"The 'extreme' Bentley stable now has a new occupant in the form of the Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible - a car every bit as purposeful and potent as the Coupé but with the panache of roof-down motoring."

A highly focussed, pure Bentley driving experience

With 630PS (621bhp) and 800Nm (590lb ft) of torque from its pioneering FlexFuel engine and new 'Quickshift' transmission, the Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible is the fastest drop-top Bentley has ever built. It accelerates from 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds (0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds) and, conditions permitting, can continue onto a top speed of 202mph (325km/h).

The increased power and torque are transmitted to the all-wheel drive system via an uprated and rapid six-speed Quickshift transmission, which more than halves shift times (to just 93 milliseconds) and maximises the new Convertible's enormous potential. The revised gearbox also has the ability to deliver double downshifts (sixth to fourth gear, for example) and improves acceleration across the entire gear range. To cope with the additional power and torque, the planetary gear set of the ZF transmission is also strengthened.

Positive torque during downshifts is achieved through engine and gearbox electronic controller interaction for extra throttle and fuel injection during the overrun. During transmission upshifts, fuel and ignition are cut momentarily to give faster mechanical shift times through torque reduction, also improving shift quality and durability.

The extreme performance of the Bentley Continental Superports Convertible is matched by precise, agile handling, while retaining class-leading levels of ride comfort and refinement. Developed from the GTC Speed, chassis enhancements include retuning of the electronic Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system, stiffer front suspension bushes and uprated rear anti-roll bar. The Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible also shares its ride height with the GTC Speed, sitting 10mm (0.4in) lower at the front and 15mm (0.6in) lower at the rear than the standard GTC.

The front suspension trailing lever features a new design of hydraulic bush, 33 per cent stiffer than those of GTC Speed, for improved steering response while the uprated rear anti-roll bar provides improved body control and turn-in response.

The retuned CDC system provides enhanced control of body movement to strike the optimum balance between agile handling and ride comfort during all driving manoeuvres. Agility is further sharpened by a 40:60 rear-biased torque split for the all-wheel drive system which reduces understeer during hard cornering and allows the experienced driver to modulate the car's line and balance via precise throttle control.

The 9.5Jx20-inch forged alloy wheels, shared with the Supersports Coupé, offer a weight saving of 10kg (22lb) per car, reducing unsprung and rotating mass while the open 10-spoke design offers superior brake cooling. The rear wheels have a 25mm (1 inch) greater offset resulting in a 50mm (2 inches) increase in the rear track, further benefiting handling and stability.

The lightweight wheels are fitted with 275/35 ZR 20 Pirelli Ultra-High Performance tyres, providing excellent steering response. The standard-fit tyre monitoring system allows the driver to select tyres type and speed range parameters. As well as monitoring pressures, the system warns drivers if their speed is too high for the tyre pressures or if tyre speed ratings are exceeded on winter tyres.

The Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible features an advanced electronic stability programme (ESP) that moderates intervention at low speeds, exploiting the potential of the more powerful engine and enhanced chassis, improving driver interaction and control. The new ESP also provides faster reinstatement of engine torque after intervention, giving the spirited driver greater control. The target slip is increased at greater than 90 per cent throttle to utilise all available longitudinal grip. Corner exit agility is thereby also enhanced for increased driver involvement. Together the chassis, tyre and track changes deliver improved grip, turn-in and agility.

Carbon ceramic brakes are standard fitment and provide a reduction in rotating and unsprung mass of 20kg (44lb) from the front axle, benefiting steering response, grip and ride comfort. The large diameter (420mm front, 356mm rear) lightweight discs and eight-piston calipers offer fade-resistant braking performance with minimal disc distortion under high thermal conditions. Pedal feel is also improved with shorter travel, high effectiveness and a precise pressure point.

Designing the 'extreme' Bentley convertible- where form follows function

The evolution of the Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible's design is very much a case of form following function, with new purposeful sculptural forms signalling the engineering changes beneath the skin. Key engineering-led design changes to the Supersports include:

Revised front air intakes and new bonnet vents to improve airflow and cooling
Flared rear wings to accommodate wider rear track
Discreet bootlid spoiler benefitting aerodynamic balance at high speeds
The increased power and torque of the W12 engine necessitated an additional 10 per cent airflow to the twin turbocharger intercoolers and cooling system. With extensive use of Computational Fluid Dynamics techniques, Bentley's designers responded with a purposeful and dramatic style, featuring large vertical intake apertures. Twin bonnet vents were added to ensure positive air extraction.

Similarly, all-new flared rear wings that accommodate the 50mm (2 inches) wider rear track are designed to emphasise the powerful stance of this ultra-high performance Convertible. The resultant Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible style combines the looks of the graceful Continental GTC with a wide, low and muscular appearance that reflects its more extreme character.

The Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible, in common with its Coupé stablemate, occupies a position within the Bentley portfolio which is all its own, as Raul Pires, Head of Exterior Design, explains.

"The Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible and Coupé are the ultimate driver's Bentleys and that is reflected in unique design cues that provide a bold, sporting look, from whatever angle the cars are admired. Even from 50 metres behind on a dark road, you can just tell it's a Supersports."

From the front, the radiator, lower grille and dual bonnet vents are finished in a striking Smoked Steel finish. Derived from an innovative technology normally used to apply a coating to luxury watches and specialised industrial tools, Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) is a complex and time-consuming process that involves vaporised metal being deposited onto the surface of, in this case, stainless steel.

Giving a darker, more solid appearance, it is the first use of a PVD finish on stainless steel in the car industry. In addition to the Smoked Steel finishes, a gloss black finish to the headlamp casings and rear lamp clusters gives the Bentley Continental Supersports convertible's distinctive face and muscular rear additional visual impact.

Restyled - and more aerodynamic - door mirrors match the exterior paint choice and the window and door surrounds replace polished stainless steel with a Smoked Steel finish to match the front grille. Eye-catching, black gloss Bentley-branded brake calipers act on the carbon ceramic brakes. Surrounding the brakes are the unique 20-inch, forged alloy wheels with Smoked Steel-finish which are exclusive to Supersports models. Large diameter tailpipe trims round out the car's purposeful stance when viewed from the rear. Beneath the bonnet Supersports badges grace the cover of the 630PS (621bhp) W12 engine.

The Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible has an electrically operated, three-layer fabric hood with advanced acoustic insulation to provide superb levels of refinement and comfort when raised. A choice of eight hood colours are available, including a new Dark Grey Metallic option, which is achieved by weaving a 'grey' acrylic fibre with a semi-transparent 'metallic effect' fibre in a twill weave construction to create a directional colour effect.

If you liked the article, share on:

Comments

Login or Create new account to add a comment!

Recommended

The Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 Avio had its premiere at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show together with the Lamborghini Centenario. The special edition vehicle will only be available in 250...
by - March 15, 2016
At the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, Ford introduced the new Vignale vehicles and the accompanying exclusive customer service that comes with these high end vehicles. The company introduced the new...
by - March 9, 2016
Ford offered us a glimpse of what the company’s future top-end SUVs could look like with its recently unveiled Ford Kuga concept seen at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. Ford’s...
by - March 9, 2016
BMW is presenting at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show its new BMW 7 Series plug-in hybrid luxury sedans – the new BMW 740e iPerformance, BMW 740Le iPerformance and BMW 740Le...
by - March 8, 2016
Arash Motor Company has debuted its upgraded AF10 and the AF8 Cassini at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. First produced in 2008, the AF10 has now been given massive updates...
by - March 8, 2016
Facebook

Youtube Channel

Tip Us
Do you have a tip for us?
Did you film an important event?
Contact us
Newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter!
Subscribe
Galleries