Bentley Flying Spur – Review
By Liam Bird
This is not the first time I’ve driven a Bentley Flying Spur. I’ve been lucky – privileged you could say – to have sampled Bentley’s lesser-known (well, if the amount of “What’s a Flying Spur” questions I received prior to its arrival are anything to go by – super-saloon twice before. On both occasions you could argue I was in prime Bentley territory; the first drive was in London’s Mayfair, the second in Cheshire, Bentley’s home. The UK is in fact the third biggest market for the Flying Spur after China and the USA, nevertheless unless you’re either lucky, or blessed with very deep pockets, they’re not exactly the kind of car you see everyday.
If it’s the W12 model as driven here it is as follows: A 616bhp 4-seater saloon car (there’s a 5-seater available too) that produces 590lbft of torque from a 12-cylinder engine coupled to an 8-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive transmission, all wrapped up in a very sharply creased – thanks to a process called superforming – aluminium body that conceals a bespoke hand-stitched-leather, hand-polished-burr walnut lined interior.
“Everyone will stop and stare”
Price depends how much you’d like to spend on options, but starting at £140,900 before you add niceties (some might say fripperies) such as fridges, humidors for your Havana cigars, bespoke coloured leathers or 1100W Naim hi-fi systems it still could cost you more than the average 2up-2down in the quieter parts of middle England.
The Flying Spur is also Bentley’s fastest, most powerful 4-door saloon to date, capable of 200mph flat out, 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds and 0-100mph in 9.5 seconds. For a car that tips the scales at nearly 2.5 tonnes some of those numbers are quite frankly awe-inspiring. The fuel consumption of 19.2 mpg combined is, on the other hand, simply frightening. But, still if you can afford the car…
What perhaps is more amazing than either is that, somewhat surprisingly, the Flying Spur never really resorts to being overtly ostentatious. Drive one of its competitors through town, by which I mean a Mercedes S-Class, Aston Martin Rapide or perhaps more obviously a Rolls Royce Ghost and nearly everyone will stop and stare.
“Character of a luxury limo”
The Flying Spur however slips by virtually unnoticed by all but those more discerning of pedestrians. Its engine note is muted; it’s bodywork, despite the addition of some rather lovely chrome and stainless additions, somewhat discreet. Well, as discreet as a something that dwarfs and Mercedes E- Class, sits on 21 inch wheels and comes with dinner plate sized jewel-like headlamps, can be.
Its power delivery too is equally as refined. Bury the Flying Spur’s big aluminium throttle deep into the Wilton and it’ll go like the proverbial. Yet, it never feels intimidating. The ride is magic-carpet smooth, the steering weights up nicely as the pace quickens and the whole car seems to shrink around you. The torque seems endless.
Should you wish to you can firm up the dampers via the touch screen and shift gears yourself via the slender paddles mounted on the steering column. But whichever way you choose to drive, the Flying Spur blends the character of a luxury limo and that of a gentleman’s GT seamlessly. It feels capable of crossing continents in a single bound (fuel consumption not withstanding) with ease.
It’s not completely perfect of course. The VW sourced multimedia is beginning to feel its age. It makes parking spaces feel tiny, the annual running costs would keep a small island running for at least a couple of months and the depreciation, like all luxury cars… well, lets not go there. But do those kinds of practicalities ever enter a Bentley customer’s head? I doubt it.
Flaws aside, even after a third encounter, the Bentley Flying Spur still has the ability to feel, and more importantly make you feel, very special without drawing too much unnecessary attention. That, you could say was, and still is, entirely its point.
Bentley Flying Spur W12
Engine: 5998cc 12Cyl 48V twin-turbo petrol
Transmission: 8 speed Manual, four wheel drive
Power: 616 bhp @ 6000pm
Torque: 590 lbft @ 2000rpm
Max Speed: 200 mph
CO2: 343 g/km
MPG: 19.2 combined
Price: from £140,900