Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

CLEARLY, this is a se­ri­ously big car. Pic­tures are de­cep­tive be­cause stylists have used del­i­cate curves and ta­pers to mask its near-5.3m length.

On the road you are aware that it can dwarf other traf­fic, even in the US where this test took place, but the more miles spent be­hind the wheel makes the task less daunt­ing.

Bent­ley made a big noise about re­duc­ing all the noise of the out­side world, ex­plain­ing its five-layer acous­tic glass as cut­ting ex­ter­nal sound 60 per cent in traf­fic and 40 per cent at high speed. That’s in com­par­i­son with the cur­rent Fly­ing Spur.

That au­gurs well for the oc­cu­pants, but the driver can feel quite alien­ated from the real world of mo­tor­ing.

Thank­fully, there’s a W12 en­gine — two banks of Volk­swa­gen’s nar­row-block V6s set in tan­dem — and a rapid- shift tip­tronic sixspeeder to liven things up.

The bulky sa­loon — 2750kg dry plus two oc­cu­pants and a full 90-litre belly of fuel to make 3.1 tonnes — hides its fat well, blast­ing off from the lights with ease.

The 560 is quick, and so you’d ex­pect a whole lot more from the Speed.

In fact it was dif­fi­cult to pick the per­for­mance dif­fer­ence, such is the abil­ity of the Fly­ing Spur to sep­a­rate the cabin from the out­side.

But there’s no doubt the Speed is a more ag­gres­sive ride, show­ing its pres­ence at only one ma­noeu­vre — back off the ac­cel­er­a­tor af­ter a fang and the ex­haust rum­bles. Granted, this deep bass growl is clev­erly muted. But it’s there and Bent­ley lets you hear it.

Though ac­cel­er­a­tion is com­mend­able, even bet­ter is its mid-range, where over­tak­ing is star­tlingly brisk.

All the time there is a sense that the en­gine is barely work­ing. But things are work­ing be­cause the first cor­ner shows up its weight.

The oc­cu­pants can’t feel any­thing un­to­ward, but the driver senses the shift in mass and the com­pen­sat­ing work of the sus­pen­sion’s com­puter that drives the air dampers.

But it’s only a sense be­cause cor­ner­ing is smooth, flat and con­trolled. The steer- ing wheel feels iso­lated from the front wheels though mid­corner jabs show there is suf­fi­cient con­tact for the mech­a­nism to be re­spon­sive to the driver’s whims.

The brakes are sim­ply stun­ning. Bent­ley claims th­ese 405mm discs as the big­gest on a pro­duc­tion car and on the Speed, they’re even big­ger at 420mm at the front for the op­tional car­bon discs.

Fuel con­sump­tion? Bent­ley claims an av­er­age of 16.6 litres/100km, and from down­town Bos­ton to up­state Mas­sachusetts the 560 re­turned 16.8 litres/100km and the Speed 18.2 litres/100km.

Own­ers may not be too con­cerned, even with Bos­ton’s ‘‘hor­rific’’ $1.20 a litre pre­mium petrol prices.

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