Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

NEW YORK – Bentleys usually come in subdued colors, but a bright yellow one takes the stage during a debut here at the New York International Auto Show.

It is a 4-seat convertible version of the Continental Supersports, billed as the fastest vehicle ever from Bentley Motors Ltd., the 91-year-old British icon of ultra-luxury car making.

The Supersports’ 6.0L twin-turbo W-12 engine puts out 621 hp with 570 lb.-ft. (800 Nm) of torque. Bentley touts its top speed as 202 mph (325 km), with a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 3.9 seconds.

Produced in Crewe, U.K., the new drop-top addition to the auto maker’s 14-model lineup goes on sale in October, says Christophe Georges, president and chief operating officer of Bentley Motors Inc.

He tells Ward’s there’s a definite market for the new car, but declines to speculate how many Bentley expects to sell. The Supersports convertible’s base price is $280,400 – relatively inexpensive for a Bentley.

After setting some sales records, the Volkswagen AG-owned auto maker had a sobering 2009, with 4,616 global deliveries, off 49% in the U.S. and down 39% worldwide, compared with 2008. Bentley sold more than 10,000 vehicles during its peak sales year of 2007.

A bright spot last year was the introduction of the flagship Mulsanne, Bentley CEO Josef-Franz Paefgen says.

That hand-built, low-volume car has been a hit with the rich. “Anyone not on a waiting list for a Mulsanne will have to wait well into 2011,” he says.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com