OP­U­LENCE DE­FINED: BE­HIND THE WHEEL OF THE NEW BENT­LEY FLY­ING SPUR

The Fly­ing Spur has a new look – and it’s more than just a facelift. Paul Con­nolly climbs aboard to test the en­gi­neer­ing and crafts­man­ship in the lat­est Bent­ley sa­loon.

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - PAUL CON­NOLLY

BENT­LEY FLY­ING SPUR

WHAT’S NEW? The Fly­ing Spur is the smaller of two sa­loons of­fered by Bent­ley, the other be­ing the huge Mul­sanne.

It has in many re­spects been a stretched ver­sion of the Con­ti­nen­tal GT coupé, with an ex­tra pair of doors added.

How­ever, lately the car has been given a more unique de­sign of its own, to make it more dis­tinct from its coupe cousin.

As if to sig­nal how much clear blue wa­ter Bent­ley is put­ting be­tween the Con­ti­nen­tal and the Fly­ing Spur, they’ve dropped “Con­ti­nen­tal” – it was pre­vi­ously known as the “Con­ti­nen­tal Fly­ing Spur”, you see.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE Those de­sign changes don’t just sep­a­rate it from its cousin, as I said, but make it look sleeker, more in­di­vid­ual and eas­ier on the eye. It’s more a car in its own right now.

The rear haunches have be­come more im­pos­ing, adding more of a hint at the power that lurks un­der­neath the large front bon­net.

Any­one who knows Bent­leys can pre­dict with cer­tainty that the cabin with be as re­fined and sump­tu­ous an ex­pe­ri­ence as pos­si­ble.

The lev­els of crafts­man­ship and at­ten­tion to de­tail are al­most over­whelm­ing, even in hard to see places where other man­u­fac­tur­ers can be tempted to cut cor­ners.

My re­view model, pro­vided by

Charles Hurst Bent­ley on Belfast’s Boucher Road, was a V8 S model in Mar­lin blue. V8 S was in­tro­duced last year to add a per­for­mance sedan choice to the line-up.

The colour was deep and lux­u­ri­ous and re­ceived manys a nod of ap­proval. Spe­cial black ma­chined 21-inch six twin spoke al­loys rounded off the look.

In­side sump­tu­ous, hand­stitched Brunel hide, a dark stained Madrona ve­neer and deep pile car­pets and over­mats yield up a trav­el­ling ex­pe­ri­ence aching of op­u­lence.

It came in Mulliner Driv­ing Spec­i­fi­ca­tion, which also in­cluded di­a­mond quilted and per­fo­rated hide to the seats and doors and drilled al­loy sports foot ped­als.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY The Fly­ing Spur is 486mm longer than the Con­ti­nen­tal, and you no­tice the space in­side. There’s tons of room for six-foot­ers front and aft, and a large spa­cious boot.

The ven­ti­lated seats with mas­sage func­tion, twin front arm­rests and multi-ad­just me­mory are in­cred­i­bly com­fort­able.

The car will seat five but, in re­al­ity, the rear is de­signed to cater for two in ex­treme com­fort. The En­ter­tain­ment Spec on my model in­cluded rear seat en­ter­tain­ment in the form of two head­rest screens, the ‘Naim for Bent­ley’ pre­mium au­dio sys­tem and a CD changer.

There’s a Dig­i­tal TV tuner and a Sim card reader for con­nec­tiv­ity. But the show-stop­per touch was a re­frig­er­ated bot­tle cooler with frosted glass and be­spoke crys­tal cham­pagne flutes be­tween the rear seats, hid­den by the cen­tral arm rest.

Push a but­ton and the glass cab­i­net door low­ered to re­veal the com­part­ment. The last word in lux­ury, dahling!

BE­HIND THE WHEEL There’s near-per­fec­tion un­der the bon­net, too. The Fly­ing Spur comes with two en­gine choices. The stan­dard choice is a new 4.0-litre V8 6.0-litre with 500bhp and 660NM of torque. (The V8 S ver­sion gets an ex­tra 21PS.)

Then there’s the more ex­pen­sive, thirstier and faster W12 trim, a 12-cylin­der ver­sion that out­puts 616bhp, 800Nm of torque and can hit a top speed of 200mph.

My V8, with op­tional car­bon ce­ramic brakes with black paint- ed calipers, took to the twisty B-roads of Co Antrim beau­ti­fully, even with the big 21-inch al­loys, and was sub­lime at speed on the mo­tor­way: quiet, re­fined and ea­ger.

Power from the en­gine is in­cred­i­ble, and the fact that a car this heavy (2.5 tonnes) can hit 0-62 in 4.9 sec­onds is noth­ing short of amaz­ing – un­til you learn the W12 ver­sion does it in 4.6 sec­onds!

The drive was al­ways en­joy­able and the car feels agile and re­spon­sive in cor­ners. The steer­ing is light and the eight-speed au­to­matic gear­box smooth and quiet. VALUE FOR MONEY Here’s the rub. The price of a Bent­ley would bring tears to the eyes of nor­mal folk, and, as with most lux­ury cars, the gen­eral rule of thumb is: if you have to ask the price, then you likely can’t af­ford it.

With this car, you get the ul­ti­mate in lux­ury, al­though an­other up­date would add fur­ther driver as­sist tech­nol­ogy and bet­ter con­nec­tiv­ity.

The base price for my V8 S was £142,800, with the lengthy list of in­stalled op­tions bring­ing the pur­chase fi­nal price to £190,765.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE? That said, for af­flu­ent buy­ers who prize crafts­man­ship and re­fine­ment over ev­ery­thing else, then Bent­ley is the car of choice.

If you want a four-door Bent­ley, the Fly­ing Spur is now com­ing out from un­der the Con­ti­nen­tal shadow and is the way to go.

It’s smaller and less ob­tru­sive than the hulk­ing-but-beau­ti­ful Mul­sanne, but still man­ages to de­liver a to­tally au­then­tic Bent­ley ex­pe­ri­ence in spades.

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