2017 Bentley Continental Supersports First Drive: An Incredible Send-Off

– Merritt Island, Florida

The Shuttle Landing Facility, near Kennedy Space Center, is a giant runway measuring 15,000 feet long – that’s 2.84 miles – and 300 feet wide. Space Shuttles landed here 78 times, touching down at 214 to 226 miles per hour after gliding in from orbit. Not a bad place, then, to drive a car that’s capable of 209 mph.

The car in question is the Bentley Continental Supersports, the final and most extreme road-focused version of this generation of the Continental GT. It’s got 700 horsepower and 750 pound-feet of torque under the hood, giant carbon-ceramic brakes, plus new bodywork to provide more cooling and more downforce. And I’m strapped into one, ready to see just how close to that 209-mph mark I can go on this historic strip of concrete.

2017 Bentley Continental Supersports: First Drive
2017 Bentley Continental Supersports: First Drive

The car just pulls and pulls, the digital speedometer leaping in multiple digits at a time.

There’s about one-and-three-quarter miles between our starting point at the runway’s north end and the big “Stop” sign that signals the point where we need to exercise the carbon-ceramic brakes to start scrubbing off speed. A Bentley driving instructor riding shotgun radios to confirm the runway is clear, then I mat the gas pedal to see how fast I can go.

Even rolling onto full throttle (the instructors asked us not to launch the car too aggressively), the Supersports tears away from the line. In ideal conditions it’ll reach 60 mph in 3.4 seconds – quicker than a Chevy Camaro ZL1. Even on a 91-degree Florida day, it’s fe...