When we first clapped eyes on the Bentley Continental Supersports, we assumed the boffins at Bentley had fallen and bumped their collective heads. What kind of crazy fools would create what is essentially a two-seater limousine that can out-sprint a Tesla Roadster? And who in their right mind would buy one?
Well, us actually, if we had the cash -- along with half the footballers in the Premier League, we expect. It's the fastest, most powerful Bentley ever, thanks to a 6-litre W12, twin-turbocharged engine that produces 621bhp and 800Nm of torque. It'll do 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds, and if you're mad enough, it'll even show you what 204mph looks like. Quite blurry, we imagine.
The Supersports runs on standard petrol, but is also championing the use of E85 biofuel, which theoretically allows carbon-neutral motoring, as it is derived from crops such as corn or sugarcane. Bentley claims using biofuels offers 'well-to-wheel' CO2 emission reductions of 70 per cent -- well-to-wheel being the measure of a fuel's contribution to the atmosphere from extraction (well -- or in this case, field) to combustion (wheel).
Any mixture of fuel types is acceptable -- the car's fuel quality sensor detects the blending ratio of petrol to E85 in real time and sends a signal to the engine control unit (the car's computer) to initiate the correct engine mapping, so performance remains consistent no matter what the Supersports is feeding on.
Stepping away from the theoretical and into the real world for a second, it's worth noting the Supersport isn't the eco warrior Bentley might have us believe. On ordinary petrol, the car pumps out a whopping 388g/km of CO2 and, according to US figures, returns just 13 miles of urban driving per gallon of fuel, which is Lamborghini territory.
The Supersports will have far more luxuries than its thoroughbred racing rivals. It has an optional Naim for Bentley audio system with 15 (count 'em) custom speakers, MP3 playback via USB, satellite navigation, and an automatic rear spoiler that deploys whenever you go above 50mph.
Pricing for the Supersport is currently unconfirmed, but expect the number on the windscreen to be in six figures. Those who have the cash can expect them to arrive at Bentley dealerships this autumn. The rest of you should browse the pictures in our gallery.
The cockpit of the new Supersport is luxurious and has a sporty yet space-aged feel. The stering wheel is littered with control buttons, which come in handy when it's not convenient to fiddle with the central control panel.
Rain sensing wipers, anyone? This system detects exactly how much rain is on the windscreen and works out just how often the wipers should should be activated. The car also has automatic headlights, so you needn't lift a finger. Apart from to drive, that is.
There's no reason to ever leave the cabin of this car. Its central display has a digital TV receiver, MP3 CD playback, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity, satellite navigation and climate controls for each passenger.
The big W12 engine has twin superchargers and can pump out 621bhp and 800Nm of torque. The car will go from 0-60mph quicker than just about anything on the road, which is amazing considering how big it is.