Roadtest: Bentley Flying Spur

21 Oct 2021 | 02.16 pm

Roadtest: Bentley Flying Spur

Unique driving experience in hyper luxury

21 Oct 2021 | 02.16 pm

Bentley’s Flying Spur offers a unique driving experience in hyper luxury, writes Mark Gallivan

The third-generation Bentley Flying Spur is the last four-door luxury saloon in Bentley’s line-up, now that the flagship Mulsanne is retired.  In the updated Flying Spur, Bentley has added driving dynamism that was missing in the previous second-generation car.

In that model, the engine weight at the front of the car numbed the steering response, and at the driving limits it also induced understeer. The engineering rethink sees the heavy W12 engine moved further back in the engine bay, and now the steering feels far tighter, with less floating from the rear axle evident from the very first Flying Spur that broke cover in 2005.

Bentley’s Flying Spur is available in four different models. With the petrol W12 tested, Bentley has thoroughly reworked the 6.0-litre engine, and there is a notable improvement in the way the eight-speed dual-gearbox swaps cogs. The transitions are imperceptible, and the Spur slurs up and down all eight ratios like a knife through treacle.

Select the Sport driving mode that tightens up the damping, and the big Bentley feels almost as agile as an E segment Audi A6. The brutality of the W12 engine propels the car forward on a wave of power. Clever cylinder deactivation that closes down half of the twelve engine cylinders delivers a 15% improvement in fuel economy. A 22mpg is claimed, and with prudent driving I achieved 27mpg. The benefit for owners is improved range when travelling longer distances.

The new active chassis with four-wheel steering tames the second-generation car’s slightly wallowing suspension. Somehow Bentley has engineered a taut four-door driver’s car with sporting sharpness that also glides like there’s an invisible hand damping down the bumpy road ahead. The Flying Spur may stretch over 17.5 feet long but it will perform a parking lot pirouette in just 36 feet. That is on par with a Ford Focus hatchback.

Design has been sharpened up too. The aggressive rear haunches hide the car’s massive girth, helped by deep wheel arch spaces. Huge standard 21-inch or optional 22-inch alloy wheels dominate the car’s side profile. The Flying Spur appears to sit lower than before, like a sports version with lowered suspension, but it’s a designer’s trick of the eye.

Inside, optional delights abound, such as a rotating centre dashboard display that offers a choice of a wide 12.3-inch touchscreen or a set of three circular nautical-inspired gauges that incorporate a compass, external temperature and a clock to report on the journey’s progress. Swathes of lovingly handcrafted leather hides and solid metal abound.

Altogether, Bentley’s Flying Spur offers a unique driving experience in hyper luxury. The model is also available as a petrol V8, and a Hybrid using a 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine allied to a 14.1 kWh battery. The Hybrid offers a claimed driving range of 700km with a tank of unleaded brimmed to the top. However, it will drive just 24 miles on electric power alone.

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: Bentley Flying Spur W12

Price: c.€335,000, V8 version c.€300,000, from Bentley Belfast

Power: 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged 12 cylinder W12 TSI, active all-wheel drive

Performance: 0-100km in 3.8 seconds, 333km top speed

Fuel: 19.1mpg combined (27mpg on this test)

Verdict: Towering pace and luxury experience with physics-defying performance.

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