First Drive: Bentley’s Flying Spur aims to redefine luxury saloons

What is it?

Bentley Flying Spur
The W12 engine provides serious punch

There are few names which are quite as evocative in the motoring world as ‘Flying Spur’. Just a mere thought conjures up ideas of grandeur, effortless performance and unsurpassed luxury. Unsurprisingly Bentley sees the new Flying Spur as quite a crucial part of its line-up, which is why it has attempted to bring these age-old traits into its new battlecruiser.

The question is, can this latest Flying Spur deliver these classic aspects while bringing it into the modern age? We’ve been behind the wheel to find out.

What’s new?

Bentley Flying Spur
The Flying Spur has been designed to be just as good to drive as it is to ride in

As you might expect, Bentley really has thrown the works into its third-generation Flying Spur. It’s got all-wheel-steering for the first time on a Bentley, while all-wheel-drive feature too to help the Flying Spur keep on the straight and narrow. In another first for a modern Bentley, the Spur features a retractable ‘Flying B’, which is operated by the widescreen infotainment display. A question of security or unbridled showing off? You decide – but it’s certainly a cool thing to operate.

All of this is sewn together with a beautifully handmade interior, while the engine itself is yet another masterpiece of engineering – though we’ll get onto that in more detail very shortly.

What’s under the bonnet?

Bentley Flying Spur
The huge front grille is hard to miss

Lurking under the Flying Spur’s elongated nose is one of the last bastions of large capacity engines. It’s a 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12, handbuilt in Crewe, and it’s the same as you’ll find in the smaller Continental GT. Here, it kicks out 626bhp and a hefty 900Nm of torque, driven to all four wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox from ZF.

It’s got enough grunt to lug the Flying Spur from 0-60mph in a frankly eyebrow-raising 3.7 seconds, while if you’ve got enough space and permission to do so, it’ll crack 207mph flat out.

When it comes to emissions, the Flying Spur emits a rather chunky 337g/km CO2, while returning 19.1mpg combined.

What’s it like to drive?

Bentley Flying Spur
The Flying Spur remains remarkably composed in the corners

Take a look at the Flying Spur’s lengthy wheelbase and generous tyres, and it’s not hard to understand that it’s a car which has been designed with a close eye on refinement. Up and running it’s easy to see, with the car whisking along at generous speeds without the merest whisper to detect in the cabin. It is, quite frankly, a sumptuous car to drive, with a ride and powertrain as smooth as Jersey cream.

There’s a small patter from the suspension – just enough to let you know that there is, indeed, a road going underneath you – but apart from that, you’re free to sit back and simply enjoy the ride.

The engine itself is a powerhouse of near untappable reserves; lean on the throttle and the Flying Spur delves to higher speeds with little fuss nor ceremony. There’s a small undercurrent of exhaust noise, but it’s more there to highlight the engine rather than to throw it into real emphasis.

How does it look?

Bentley Flying Spur
The Flying B can be retracted at the push of a button

Bentley certainly nailed the brief when it came to the Flying Spur’s looks. It’s elegant enough to tie closely to its historic models, yet modern enough to inject some excitement. The front grille is massive in the metal, but because of the giant proportions of the rest of the car, it manages to remain in keeping with the overall look.

Of course, appearances are down to the individual, but we’d argue that the rear of the car is the only area of the car’s design which doesn’t tread quite so easily. The positioning of the taillights at either end of the Spur’s rear end give it an overly-wide appearance and can lead it to look a bit ungainly from certain angles.

What’s it like inside?

Bentley Flying Spur
The cabin features many high-end materials

It’s when you step into the cabin of the Flying Spur that you really get to appreciate the level of craftsmanship which has gone into creating it. There are high-quality materials used across the board, with barely a surface lacking any metal, leather or wood coverings. Up front, the seating position is good, while those sitting in the rear really do have the best seats in the house when it comes to outright comfort.

There’s even a decent-sized boot, offering up 420 litres as standard. A hatch in the middle allows you to slot longer items through to the cabin; we thought fence posts, but Bentley probably has skis and poles in mind as a more appropriate cargo.

What’s the spec like?

Bentley Flying Spur
Those sitting in the rear are treated to plenty of space

Given that the Flying Spur is accompanied by a price tag which is knocking on £170,000’s door before options, it’s probably a relief to find that it’s already well-laden in standard equipment. The most notable inclusion is the new infotainment setup, which is head-and-shoulders above ones we’ve seen on previous Bentleys.

It comprises a 12.3-inch screen and gives access to all of the major media and navigation functions you’d expect. There’s also a virtual cockpit-style driver display in place of the conventional dials.

Our only objection here is the area around the switchgear; it’s a little bit busy and can make even simple adjustments – like putting on your heated seat, for instance – take more time than you’d want.

Verdict

Bentley traditionally knows what it is doing when it comes to supremely luxurious, high-end saloons. This latest Flying Spur is a real extension of that knowledge, showcasing everything the firm has learnt over many, many years of creating tip-top cars.

This latest model is by far the most well-rounded to date, bringing involvement for the driver as well as unparalleled comfort for passengers. It does this in typically unflustered Bentley fashion.

The Spur is a car which is as relaxing to drive as it is to be driven in and, as such, is likely to appeal to a wide variety of buyers.

  • Model: Bentley Flying Spur
  • Base price: £168,300
  • Engine: 6.0-litre W12
  • Power: 626bhp
  • Torque: 900Nm
  • Max speed: 207mph
  • 0-60mph: 3.7seconds
  • MPG: 19.1
  • Emissions: 337g/km CO2
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