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Continental Divide

The New Bentley Continental Supersports convertible is as pretty as it is pricey. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Author Jonny Lieberman Photography Courtesy of Bentley Motors, INC.


Image – Courtesy of Bentley Motors, INC.

SNAKING THROUGH COLORADO’S ROCKY Mountains, the San Juan Skyway might just be the most physically stunning road in the country. Starting in the celebrity- studded town of Telluride and winding through Durango and Silverton, the road reveals snowcapped 14,000-foot peaks, red-streaked rock formations, green prairies with big brown bison and Ralph Lauren’s sprawling ranch. There are very few automobiles that can stand toe to toe with such a mesmerizing road. One of them is the 2011 Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible.

The topless Supersports is the latest and greatest version of the Bentley Continental platform, first offered to the public in 2003. Under the hood, a 6.0-liter, twin-turbo W12 produces an astonishing 621 horsepower (up from 556) and an equally shocking 590 pound-feet of torque (up from 553). Supercar numbers, without question.

Supercar stats, too: The Supersports rockets to 60 mph in an elite 3.9 seconds, and its top speed (not recommended) is 197 mph with the three-layer roof tucked away. With its top up, this big brute tops out at 202 mph (definitely not recommended). Either number makes this the fastest four-seat convertible in the world. And the two turbochargers feed enough air into the motor that even at 11,000 feet the engine suffers no shortage of power—I didn’t make it to 197, in part because I ran out of straight tarmac. The Skyway is nearly 250 miles of curves, which the Bentley eats up with an evil ease.

In the spirit of keeping the Supersports’ weight down, Bentley has traded a few of its full-tilt luxury accommodations. Forget about handrubbed burl wood veneers; carbon fiber is the luxury material of choice—on the dash, the doors, the seats, you name it. Of course, you’ll still find stainless steel organ-stop vent pulls—it is after all a Bentley. You can tell by the price tag: $280,000 and up. That’s huge money, even for Ralph Lauren. In situations like this, I often find myself turning to philosophers more knowledgeable than I. Said Ferris Bueller, “If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

Motor Trend senior editor JONNY LIEBERMAN is waiting for an invite to Ralph Lauren’s ranch.

BIG BENTLEY

Nothing about this burly English bulldog is small.

The 16.54-inch brakes are the largest on any production car.

The 6.0-liter twin- turbo W12 is the most powerful Bentley motor.

The top speed with the roof up is an immodest 202 mph.

The price tag of $280,000 isn’t Bentley’s largest, but it still hurts.

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