Touring by Bentley is as good as it gets
ACOUPLE of weeks ago I had the chance to take Her Indoors on a long weekend to stay in an ‘executive’ beach hut in Devon. My dilemma was: What would be the perfect car for such a trip?
We were also taking my sister-in-law and her husband so it would have to seat four in comfort for the five-hour each way drive plus have a decent amount of luggage space as we were staying selfcatering.
Then it came to me – Bentleys were first conceived as grand tourers for whisking the well-heeled to the French Riviera in luxury. Devon is sometimes described as the English Riviera so I got those nice people at Bentley to loan me a Flying Spur so we too would be travelling in luxury... although I definitely don’t qualify on the well-heeled bit.
Bentleys have always had an image that other car makers can only aspire to – James Bond actually drives a Bentley, not an Aston Martin, in the original Ian Fleming books and anyone, like me, old enough to have seen the original 1960s TV series The Avengers will recall John Steed – one of the coolest characters in that cool decade – drove a Bentley as well (mind you his black, racing-spec XJC in the New Avengers a few years later was super-cool too).
Then there were the legendary Le Mans successes of the 1920s and again in the early noughties, so it is no surprise that Bentleys are now in huge demand around the world and enjoying record sales.
Made not too far away from us in Crewe, some 3,700 people turn out over 10,000 cars a year with the majority helping spread the fame of British design and craftsmanship around the world through 200 dealers in 54 countries.
Bentley’s biggest markets are in the USA, China and the Middle East – with Russia coming up fast on the outside.
Our test Flying Spur V8 was only launched with its eight-cylinder power plant at last year’s Moscow motor show, selling alongside its more powerful, but heavier, W12-engined stablemate and both in the revised body style unveiled in 2013.
As you would expect for a basic £136,000 price tag, it’s a good looking car from every angle, luxurious inside and fast – 0-60 in 4.9 seconds (0-100 in a shade over 11!) from a 4.0-litre twin turbo, 500-bhp V8 – with a top speed of 183mph.
Our test car also had an eye-watering £44,750 worth of extras including £10,610 ceramic brakes, a £5,720 ‘Premium’ audio system and a special paint finish adding another £4,200.
Now I know you are thinking only the well-heeled could afford the fuel for a jaunt to Devon in a Flying Spur but Bentley claim this 17-foot long, near three-ton piece of automotive art can do almost 35mpg on a run, so the idea was to put that to the test – as well as wafting along in total luxury.
And I have to report that the car’s trip computer indeed showed 35mpg when cruising on motorways at the legal limit. In fact, for the 600-mile plus round trip, after starting with a full tank, we only put in another £80 worth of super unleaded and had a third of a tank left at the end of the long weekend – impressive and surprising.
Not that your average millionaire or entrepreneur Bentley owner will probably be troubled by the cost of fuel but it shows how all motor manufacturers are now trying their best to conserve our dwindling stocks of the black stuff.
The Flying Spur, as you would expect for a Bentley, does everything superbly and in style with all the toys you can think of – including all-round heated massage seats in sumptuous leather!
And if you want to know how good it is wafting through sunny Ilfracombe in a £180,000 Bentley… well it’s about as good as it gets.