Here's an algebra equation you'll never see on a test: V-6 + V-6 = W12.
(The secret to the answer is placing the two Vs side by side and then adding up all of the cylinders under the hood.) It's also what Bentley did to create the monster that powers its new Continental Supersports Coupe, basically connecting two 3-liter V-6s to the same crankshaft, adding two turbos and then cramming them under a single hood -- a long elegant hood at that.
Much like algebra, the Supersports Coupe is difficult car to understand and comes from a different world.
It's crazy fast, with a top speed of 204 mph, and it's crazy expensive, with a window sticker starting at $267,000 for the two-door hatchback. Shipping alone costs $2,595, though I imagine you can talk the dealer into a couple of free oil changes.
After driving the Supersports for four days, I began to understand the appeal of this car. Compared to the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe at $408,000, the Bentley is a steal.
And now, Bentley has tried to garner a little environmental street credibility -- if that's possible to do with a 6-liter 621-horsepower 12-cylinder engine that can burn through E85 just as quickly as it can gasoline. Who knew corn could pack such a punch? Now the E85 won't match the EPA gas mileage numbers of 13 miles per gallon in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. Of course, I wasn't able to match those numbers either, averaging about 12 mpg on mixed driving.
But it is about time a "green machine" included 590 pound-feet of delicious torque and 0-60 mph acceleration of 3.7 seconds. It's the kind of green movement I can fully endorse. Rocket on the road
Modern and sleek, the exterior of this Bentley doesn't say ostentatious old money as much as it does portly hatchback. While the curvy roof slopes gently to the back and the steeply raked windshield provides a sharp edge to the car's profile, other parts look like oversized Lego blocks and chunky sections. If you added two little wings, the Supersports could substitute as the space shuttle. Of course, the stretched Bentley badge across the hood already suggests NASA-sized price tags.
While there are only two seats in the Supersports (the shuttle Endeavour seats seven), it's only 2 inches shorter than the five-passenger Chevrolet Malibu sedan. The doors alone look as long as a Chevy Aveo; they certainly feel heavier.
A car weighing nearly 5,000 pounds does suggest a diet might be in order. But get this: The original idea of the Supersports was to create an even lighter Continental GT, and overall, the mission was a success, with this car losing 243 pounds over any other GT.
But when it launches, the weight never feels like an issue. And the 16.5-inch disc carbon ceramic cross-drilled brakes in the front make stopping as easy as accelerating. Really, the car's performance is never questioned. It's a rocket with laser-like precision on the road. The body doesn't move at all through hot corners because its air suspension and computer controlled shocks instantly adjust to the road. The big 20-inch tires claw into the road, and the all-wheel drive system dampens out any other problem you may encounter. Plus, there's this never-ending well of power to draw from.
The engine growls as you press down on the accelerator and rewards you at every turn -- it's one of the few sounds to make it inside the library-quiet cabin. The all-wheel drive system allows you to launch quicker and the paddle shifters let you toy with the gears and go from 80 mph to 100 mph almost instantly. The ZF Quickshift six-speed transmission is flawless and seems to respond to you like a well-heeled butler, anticipating your needs before you even know you need something. The paddle shifters allow you to take shifting into your own hands.
This car knows more about driving than you ever will and is more car than any person really needs.
And that's where I started to understand its appeal to people who likely pay cash for this car. (Most of us, simply can't afford a $2,250 monthly car payment for 10 years, taxes, tag and title not included.) All luxury inside
But when you sit inside the Supersports, you feel like a million bucks -- never mind the quilted leather seats in my test vehicle had to be adjusted manually. (I'm guessing most owners would have someone on their staff set up the seat for them, but even the best-trained mechanic couldn't adjust the seat's height, because that option is not available.)
The interior feels slightly gratuitous but extremely well made. Every person I drove around in the Supersports -- and you always have friends if you drive a Bentley -- loved being encased in leather and wood. The only thing that might add a special, more expensive touch would be to use ivory as the trim, though I believe that is illegal.
A Breitling timepiece ticks away at the top of the dash as a small reminder that everything is luxury in this car. Additionally, instead of attempting to pretend to have a back seat, the setup is spacious and open. Behind the driver seats is an excellent flat shelf to hold anything you want and an aluminum bar.
If you need to carry bigger items, the wall to the back folds down and there is more than 13 cubic feet of space. This car could easily carry two sets of golf clubs or just about anything else. While testing it, I managed to fit a week's worth of groceries in the back easily. This was certainly the first Supersports Coupe to park at a Downriver Meijer.
Now if you have $300,000 sitting around and you want a nice daily commuter, the Bentley Continental Supersports Coupe may be the car for you. It's powerful and comfortable, bordering on obscene.
It's a tried-and-true formula that adds up for those few people who can afford it. For the rest of us, we'll keep scratching our heads and wonder if those Mega Millions numbers will ever pay off.
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Exterior: Good. A sleek and simple exterior looks chunky and simple. The white version resembles a space shuttle.
Interior: Excellent. Everything you'd expect in a Bentley. Well-crafted and well appointed, with the finest materials known inside any car.
Performance: Excellent. Jaw dropping, race car performance numbers and all-wheel drive.
Pros: Incredible performance and the Bentley name.
Cons: The Bentley name costs $270,000.
**** Excellent *** Good ** Fair * Poor
2010 Bentley Continental Supersports Coupe
Type: Two-person, all-wheel drive coupe
Engine: 6-liter W-12
Power: 621 horsepower; 590 pound-feet torque
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
EPA gas mileage: 12 mpg city / 19 mpg highway