Bentley Goes Bonkers

Forget about test tracks, the best way to research a new motor is to stick it outside your gaff and sit back and listen to the comments.
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Forget about test tracks, the best way to research a new motor is to stick it outside your gaff and sit back and listen to the comments.

You don’t need to spend millions on intricate testing, continual laps of the Nurburgring and clever market analysis to find out how good your new car is. All you have to do is leave it outside my flat, sit in my bedroom with the window open and jot down the comments from passers-by.

This weekend a gun-metal matte silver Bentley Continental Supersports sat in space P/6, sporting 19 inch satin black alloy wheels, a squat body kit and meaty turbo inductions carved into the bonnet and boy did it cause a stir. “Now that’s a proper motor John” exclaimed one very fat man. “Shit blud, that thing is pimped” explained an eloquent young man in a rather fetching tracksuit. “It looks like James Bond’s car” squeaked a little fella riding a bicycle with stabilisers. It was great stood there in my bedroom like some kind of vehicle-obsessed deviant, eavesdropping on the conversations fired-up by the very car I was about to drive.

When Bentley mentioned they were releasing the most potent machine to ever leave the factory doors of the Crewe headquarters my heart did a little break-dance. I’ve been lucky enough to sample the GT Speed (a bright red number that made my face hurt it was so fast) and the GTC (a beautiful convertible that rips skin off the forehead with its pace) so if they were anything to go by this machine would be evil... and evil it is.

Arriving at my flat with its bad-boy paint job, lowered ride height and massive wheels, it made my face do a massive toothy grin. A quick walk around the car reveals the same sweeping lines and beautifully engineered bodywork of the less frantic Conti’s but the little testosterone-packed features make a huge difference to the overall appearance. It really does look angry.

Slot the key into the ignition and depress the familiar starter button and… hmmmm not much really. The deep bellow of the Bentley 6.0 litre engine settles into a meaty idle like all the other models, slightly disappointing but hey ho. The interior is lovely though, rather than miles of walnut and shiny woods we have swathes of carbon fibre. Carbon fibre race seats, carbon fibre dash and even a giant carbon fibre brace strut that replaces the back seats (it looks like a carbon fibre stripper’s pole on its side). One thing that did instantly impress me was the quality of the cabin and the features they’ve managed to pack into the fastest ever production Bentley. The Sat-Nav is intact, the Breitling for Bentley clock remains and the computer console still includes a TV. I can watch re-runs of QI at 200 MPH! (actually that’s a lie, it doesn’t work when the car’s moving). This has to be the most opulent cabin found in a car with performance figures like these.

The automatic gear stick is slotted into sport mode and I begin my journey down to Kent in pursuit of less rain and some twisty roads. Upon first stab of the accelerator it becomes clear that this is a cut above the other Conti’s. The acceleration pins you to the bucket seats and you can feel the back end hunker down as the two tonne brute attempts to displace all that torque (590 lb ft for those of you who care) onto the tarmac. Accelerating is fun, lots of fun. The nose actually rises as you bury the throttle, making it difficult to see over the bonnet from the low-slung seat set-up, so it feels a bit like you’re in a speed boat… and with the rain currently lashing down that simile is more than fitting.

"'Now that’s a proper motor John’ exclaimed one very fat man. 'Shit blud, that thing is pimped' explained an eloquent young man in a rather fetching tracksuit."

Open up the taps on the motorway and this monster feels right at home, reaching 100 MPH in a frightening 8.9 seconds and cruising at 140 MPH with the ease. I’m starting to think this Bentley is the easiest way to lose your license. The only thing hinting at impending jail time is the flapping spoiler that pops up in the rear-view as you hit 80 MPH or above. The car simply doesn’t feel like it’s putting in any effort, which is great but also a bit disappointing.

More disappointment was to follow on the Saturday when the weather picked up. Sport Mode was once again engaged and the meandering tarmac surrounding East Sussex was about to be gobbled up by the fuel-sinking Supersports. First issue, handling. The Bentley does everything in its power to remind you of its chunkiness, understeering through corners and refusing to dig its nose in resulting in frustrating bumps over the cat’s eyes. It’s like watching Michelle McManus devour an entire KFC bargain bucket in front of your eyes, we know you’re big, there’s no need to remind us. The second issue is the ride. Whereas on smooth motorways this car feels like navigating a fluffy cloud across the plains of Heaven, on bumpy B-roads it’s a nightmare. The stiff chassis bounces and crashes over potholes, couple that with the carbon racing seats and you’ll be reaching for the Germaloids by the end of the trip.

But what the handling and chassis lack the engine makes up for. The twin turbos spooling up ahead of you signal that a ferocious shot of acceleration is about to be delivered and witnessing the speedo sprint round the gorgeous satin black dials is a joy to behold. It is bonkers fast just not £170,000 bonkers fast.

I felt slightly hard done by when the Supersports returned to the P/6 parking space. A little bit of me felt like I wanted more. More noise from those gigantic oval tail pipes, more brute force along the straights and more enjoyment on the tighter roads. Take this car to the lush surroundings of southern France or the vast stretches of open Autobahn and it couldn’t fail to make you laugh out loud but on our roads it doesn’t really make sense.

With an Aston Martin DBS hitching up its skirt and winking at me for £10,000 less, I’m not sure if I could resist the temptation…

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