The pressure to show an interest in the ecological impact of driving is extending ever-upwards, so high that even Bentley is working on a biofuel model. The new model is called the Continental Supersports and it will be making its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
Described by its creators as the “Extreme Bentley”, the all-new Continental Supersports is the fastest and most powerful model in the marque’s history. Delivering 621hp (463kW), the latest addition to the Continental GT range is capable of accelerating from 0-60mph in just 3.7 seconds and reaching a top speed of 204mph. Peak torque stands at 590lb-ft (800Nm).
The Supersports is also the first Bentley capable of running on both petrol and biofuel, pioneering the use of FlexFuel technology in the luxury sector. This represents stage one of the company's commitment to make its complete model range compatible with renewable fuels by 2012.
Key to the car’s extra performance is the unique attributes of ethanol and other biofuels. While less efficient per unit volume than traditional fossil fuels, they can still be made to produce prodigious quantities of power while keeping CO2 emissions comparatively low. The burning of ethanol in biofuel has the positive side effect of cooling the combustion chambers, allowing for higher power outputs than comparable petrol engines.
But it’s not just about fuels. The Continental Supersports also features a new 'Quickshift' transmission that halves shift times of the regular Continental GT model. Furthermore, performance is lifted through the use of an array of chassis enhancements including retuned steering and suspension, lighter weight components, retuned dampers and anti-roll bars.
Agility is further sharpened by a 40:60 rear-biased torque split for the all-wheel drive system, a wider rear track, lightweight 20in alloy wheels and a unique electronic stability program.
Carbon ceramic brakes are standard fitment, benefiting steering response, grip and ride comfort, while saving weight. Overall, the engineering team have achieved a weight reduction of 110kg (243 lb) compared with the Continental GT Speed.
The vehicle also sports several distinct design elements. These include large vertical intake apertures in the front bumper as well as twin bonnet vents. To accommodate the 50mm wider track, designers also added flared rear wheel arches.
The Supersports is further distinguished from its Continental coupe stable mates by a unique dark-smoked steel finish to all exterior accents, including front grilles, lamp bezels, window surrounds and wheels. Inside, there is plenty of carbon-fiber and Alcantara trim, and interestingly Bentley has removed the rear seats and instead replaced them with a stowage deck with a carbon-fiber luggage retaining beam.
Available worldwide from the third quarter of 2009, the Continental Supersports will be FlexFuel compatible in the majority of markets from launch with North American cars offering the capability by the middle of next year, following regulatory approval.
The 'Supersports' name, incidentally, is inspired by the original two-seater 3.0L Supersports model introduced in 1925, itself an evolution of the 3.0L Speed. The original Supersports was the first production Bentley to reach 100mph and was also recognized at the time for its race-inspired technologies....