Just unveiled, the Bentley Continental Supersports is a 209 mph beast

What does it take to be the world's fastest four-seater production car? If you're Bentley, the answer to that is a 6-liter, twin-turbocharged W12 engine, squeezed inside the stately curves of the 2017 Continental Supersports, and pushing the coupe to a heady 209 miles per hour. Freshly revealed in the metal on the eve of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) 2017, this latest Supersports is setting the bar high.

It's not the first Bentley to bear the Supersports badge, of course. The previous Continental Supersports Coupe debuted back in 2009, with a 621 HP W12 engine, joined the subsequent year by a Supersports Convertible version. They took their name from the classic 1925 Bentley Supersports, which took the Bentley 3-litre and tuned it for 85 HP. Might not sound much, but when the competition was making more like 15 HP it was enough to set records, including being the first production car to reach 100mph.

The new Continental Supersports will go more than twice as fast if you have the space to stretch its legs. It will do 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds, Bentley says, courtesy of 700 HP and 750 lb-ft. of torque between 2,050 and 4,500 rpm. The W12 engine is paired with an 8-speed ZF transmission, and there's permanent all-wheel drive to make sure the power reaches the road.

The nannying electronics have been tamed slightly for more freedom, and there's a a more free-flowing exhaust system to let the soundtrack get raucous. Sadly Bentley wasn't entirely keen on the idea of us taking the car for a quick spin after the sheets came off in Detroit this morning – that will have to wait until later in the year – but we did get the chance to admire it stationary. The Continental design has been around since 2003, but evolutionary tweaks and changes have kept it looking crisp, and this Supersports version is the most aggressive production version so far.

That includes new front and rear bumpers, which integrate a cabon-fiber splitter at the front and a new diffuser at the rear. The sides have sill extensions, also made of cabon-fiber, and the same lightweight material reappears for the hood vents. What would normally be bright chrome is now black-finished for a far moodier, aggressive look, and the wing vents, tailpipes, and other trim are finished in gloss black.

Dark tints to the headlamps and tail lamps emphasize that, and while the rear spoiler and matching front-splitter are optional, we'd expect most Supersports buyers to tick that box. The gloss-finished and Supersports-branded carbon-fiber engine cover is another option, though you'll obviously need to pop the hood in order to see it.

Step inside, and the four-seater cabin has a new, tri-tone interior. That features diamond-quilted Alcantara on both the seats and the door panels, while the dashboard can be had in Supersports checkered carbon-fiber trim as well as the usual wood and metal options. The wheel is newly designed, and the gear shifter exclusive to the Supersports too.

Those with the very deepest pockets will be able to turn their flights of customizing fancy over to the team at Mulliner. Bentley's bespoke arm will take on pretty much any custom project – within reason – so if you've always wanted a 209 mph four-seater convertible the bodywork of which perfectly matches your eyes, now you can have it.

Even if you don't go down that route, these are still going to be expensive cars. Pricing hasn't been confirmed yet, but with the Bentley Continental GT Speed coming in at $240k despite "only" having 621 HP, expect a healthy premium on top of that for the Supersports Coupe.

Photography by Vincent Nguyen

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