Spur of the mo­ment

New Bent­ley makes a Fly­ing start for new mar­kets, writes NEIL DOWL­ING in the US

Herald Sun - Motoring - - FIRST DRIVE -

YOU could eas­ily ig­nore the latest up­date to Bent­ley’s slick four-door sa­loon as a mid-life up­date. Be­hind the Fly­ing Spur’s pol­ish­ing ex­er­cise, how­ever, is a deeper and more press­ing is­sue.

Bent­ley isn’t alone in find­ing this year trum­pets a new world of rolling fuel-price rises and in­creas­ingly strict emis­sion leg­is­la­tion.

Though Bent­ley’s af­flu­ent clients can weather the fi­nan­cial ef­fects, they may have dif­fi­culty with the third — the eco­nomic slow­down of world mar­kets.

To en­sure it re­mains buoy­ant and stable in this rest­less ocean, the very English (though Ger­man-owned) mar­que is chas­ing new mar­kets in Rus­sia, China and Korea.

There are new ri­vals on the hori­zon. Bent­ley’s project and en­gi­neer­ing boss for the Con­ti­nen­tal range, Paul Jones, says com­pe­ti­tion — specif­i­cally the forth­com­ing Porsche Panam­era, As­ton Martin Rapide and the as-yet un­named mid­size Rolls-Royce — will en­tice cus­tomers.

‘‘We have now broad­ened the car’s ap­peal with two mod­els — the 560 and the Speed — so cus­tomers can choose one for lux­ury and com­fort or one with ex­tra per­for­mance,’’ Jones says.

Like its two-door sis­ter, the Con­ti­nen­tal GT, the made-over Fly­ing Spur gets a high-per­for­mance op­tion that stretches the 6.0- litre 12-cylin­der power to 449kW from the 560’s 412kW.

Torque is more im­pres­sive — up to 750Nm at 1750-5750 revs from 650Nm— and the rea­son this Speed model can move its fat 2475kg body to 100km/h from rest in a smart 4.8 sec­onds.

Jones ex­pects sales of equal vol­umes in th­ese mod­els, based on last year’s sales ex­pe­ri­ence with the GT and GT Speed.

The Fly­ing Spur four-door sa­loon starts its global sales roll­out this month and ar­rives in Aus­tralia in Novem­ber, priced from about $370,500 in­clud­ing the 33 per cent lux­ury car tax. The Speed is likely to cost $400,200.

Out­wardly the sa­loon is much like the pre­vi­ous model that went on sale in 2005.

There are changes such as a big­ger and more up­right grille, wider choices in paint and up­hol­stery, ex­panded fea­tures in­clud­ing in­di­vid­ual elec­tric adjustment for the rear seats and im­prove­ments to noisedamp­en­ing in­clud­ing in­no­va­tive five-ply win­dow glass.

The sus­pen­sion has been re­tuned, wheels are stan­dard 19-inch, with 20-inch op­tional on the 560 and stan­dard on the Speed, and the Speed gets sig­nif­i­cant en­gine mod­i­fi­ca­tions for greater dura­bil­ity.

The Fly­ing Spur — the name comes from the fam­ily crest of the then-boss of Bent­ley coach­builder Mulliner — has a huge op­tion list that in­cludes 17 in­te­rior colours, 16 ex­te­rior paints plus any cus­tom colours, leather up­hol­stery with pip­ing, var­i­ous tim­bers for the cabin, an as­sort­ment of dash­boards and count­less mi­nor trim de­tails.

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