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.
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.