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Soft-top Supersports soars at Goodwood

Bell of a time: Derek Bell gives the Supersports Convertible its first public work-out.

Aussies queue for most expensive Continental as Supersports soft-top laps Goodwood

7 Jul 2010

BENTLEY used the UK’s Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend to stage the first public demonstration of its crushing Continental Supersports Convertible, of which nine are already spoken for in Australia ahead of its arrival here in October – despite its $531,716 pricetag.

Reprising a proven formula, five-times Le Mans winner and motor racing veteran Derek Bell put the 2395kg, 463kW drophead through its paces in front of the Goodwood audience.

At last year’s Festival, Bell treated onlookers as he thrashed a battleship grey Supersports Coupe, which is 155kg lighter than the convertible, up Goodwood’s famous hill.

Bentley, which prefers to “produce one less car than demand” to maintain exclusivity and has not allocated a maximum number of Supersports to be delivered Down Under, has since sold 12 examples of the top-shelf version of the Continental Coupe in New Zealand and Australia, where it costs $506,397.

54 center imageLeft: Derek Bell at Goodwood.

The Crewe-based, Volkswagen owned luxury car-maker has sold a total of 25 models across its range in Australia alone this year so far – up 39 per cent up on the first six months of 2009 – and has pre-sold its local allocation of up to 10 examples of its new Mulsanne flagship limousine, which will top the range by September at $695,000.

Bentley attributes its Australian sales success to its investment in new models and a nod to environmental issues with the FlexFuel system it pioneered with the Supersports models, which enables its vehicles to run on petrol, E85 bio-ethanol or any mixture of the two.

Able to detect the fuel blend and adjust the engine mapping to suit, Bentley’s FlexFuel technology is being rolled out to all models in the 2011 Continental range and all Bentley vehicles by 2012.

Internal fuel system and engine components are also upgraded for compatibility with E85, the use of which Bentley claims reduces CO2 emissions “from well to wheel” by up to 70 per cent.

As we’ve reported, standard kit on the Supersports Convertible, which made its global debut at the Geneva motor show in March, is comprehensive and includes lightweight 20-inch alloy wheels and carbon-ceramic brakes as part of the performance-oriented, weight-saving package.

Australian buyers can expect to lay out a whopping extra $51,000 (more than the cost of a brand-new SS Commodore) for satin paint, $4018 for a metallic dark grey-coloured hood and $1894 for power boot opening and closing.

Photos of a “Citric” coloured Supersports Convertible with Derek Bell at the wheel during the Festival of Speed show the 6.0-litre W12-engined convertible to be exhibiting more than a little bodyroll in the corners, despite chassis tweaks including a lower ride height, wider rear track, stiffer front suspension bushes and an uprated rear anti-roll bar.

The impression of bodyroll is no doubt due to Bell’s crowd-pleasing, merciless treatment of such a rare and desirable machine. Bell, who also took the Supersports Coupe for a few hot laps of the Nurburgring Nordischleiffe last year, has enjoyed an illustrious motorsport career.

He took part in the 1970 Steve McQueen film Le Mans, has five Le Mans 24-Hour titles to his name and twice won both the Le Mans and Daytona 24-hour races in the same year. He also competed with some success on Australian soil in the Bathurst 1000 between 1977 and 1981.

Already holding the title as producer of the fastest, most powerful four-seat convertible in the world with the GTC Speed, Bentley has outdone itself with the 4.1-second, 325km/h Supersports Convertible. It is 145kg is lighter than the GTC Speed while boasting a power and torque increase of 14kW and 50Nm respectively.

Fuel economy is slightly down, with the Supersports Convertible returning 16.7L/100km against the GTC Speed’s 17L/100km. Despite the small penalty at the pumps, CO2 emissions for the Supersports Convertible are 8g/km lower than the GTC Speed, at 388g/km.

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