The Bentley Flying Spur Is The Ultimate Opulence Rocket
As luxurious as it is fast, sporting stunning looks, this big Brit spoils you at 207 MPH.
The Bentley Flying Spur deserves more love. The Continental is Bentley's playboy GT, the Bentayga is the balance sheet-strengthening SUV, and the Mulsanne is riding off into the sunset, leaving the Spur as the sole four-door in the Crewe-based lineup. What was just a sedan version of the Continental a generation ago, the Bentley Flying Spur now flexes a reshaped, more impactful body, plenty of performance, and a more tastefully appointed luxury limo offering.
I'm fortunate to have tested several Bentley models over the years, each better than the last, but haven't had a proper go in the Flying Spur. Having experienced the Rolls-Royce Ghost last fall, I wanted to see how Bentley's driver's sedan performed. Luckily the good people at Bentley agreed, and sent one my way for a week of enjoyment.
That subtle "B" in the taillight.
The Flying B badge is enough. Lose the spelled out name.
All The Big Numbers
Bentley's big 6.0-liter W12 has been around for ages, but it keeps receiving improvements. In the new Flying Spur, it produces 626 horsepower at 6,000 RPM and churns out 664 lb-ft (900 Nm) of torque across a plateau from 1,350 - 4,500 RPM. ZF supplies its splendid eight-speed twin-clutch gearbox, and the Flying Spur is given active all-wheel-drive to provide confident handling in any condition. Surging from 0-60 in just 3.7 seconds, and hitting 0-100 in 8.2, the Flying Spur will smoothly pull all the way to a supercar-esque top speed of 207 MPH.
Built on a steel and aluminum space frame, finely sculpted superformed aluminum body panels wrap around the new Flying Spur that's not much bigger than an Audi A8, but is about 10 inches shorter in overall length than the Rolls-Royce Ghost. Bentley loads the Flying Spur with the finest appointments inside, which brings the curb weight up to 5,300 pounds (2,400 kilos in the Queen's English). To be mindful of fuel consumption, Bentley gives the W12 engine cylinder deactivation, which helps it achieve a 12/19/15 (city/highway/combined) EPA fuel economy estimate, with a massive 23.8-gallon tank on-board. There's also a slightly more efficient 542-horsepower turbocharged V8 available, should you want to save a few bucks on the sticker price too.
Entering the world of the Flying Spur will take plenty of dollars from your offshore bank account, with the base price starting at $214,600 and the figure rapidly increasing as your options list grows. My Extreme Silver tester was loaded with the Naim audio system ($8,800), extended range colors inside and out ($6,090), and the First Edition Specification ($44,735 and incorporates a stack of popular options into one package), which brought the total price to $287,950.
Always test the expensive audio systems with some good 90s hip hop.
The Obsessively Detailed Cruiser
As you unlock the Flying Spur, a motorized and illuminated Flying B ornament rises from beneath the bonnet. Take a moment as you approach this four-door grand tourer to appreciate the subtle yet sculpted lines. The Bentley's figure may initially appear simple and plain, but then you notice the smooth superformed aluminum body panels that have the right amount of curve and flex, giving the Flying Spur a pronounced shape. A swept roofline arches neatly into a high belt line, completing a stunning profile with awesome proportions. Up front, the impactful grille and gem-treated headlamps stare you down, and the taillights have a unique to Flying Spur shape with an LED strip that crafts a the letter B within the housing. I wish the Bentayga I tested recently kept this taillight look.
Slide into the intricately-stitched seat, covered with the most supple duo-tone hide, that encompasses you in comfort with heating, cooling, and deep massaging. Let the soft-close door, extra thick glass, deep carpets, rich leather lined interior, and powered window shades disconnect you from the noise of the outside world. Should you want to completely drown out the environment outside this opulent cabin, 19 speakers punching 2,200 watts of Naim audio will do the trick. Press the engine start button, and listen to 12 cylinders fire to life, awaiting your order to rush away.
Civilized yet potent, the Flying Spur will smoothly deploy its power to confidently maneuver through a bustling downtown traffic jam to find the open road. While large in physical dimensions, Bentley engineered quick response to the electric-assist steering to make easy work to move it around while still maintaining a comfortable ride. On the freeway, there's the tiniest sensation of any bump or crack, but the air suspension and Bentley Dynamic Ride adjust the big sedan's response before you've even noticed. Even at speeds appropriate for unrestricted Autobahn sections, the Flying Spur is composed and steady, with a just-right amount of weight in the steering wheel, and a direct yet not overbearing connection to the road.
Controls inside the Bentley Flying Spur are made from high-grade materials, with feedback and sensation that feels expensive, while still being intuitive. The updated 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen from the Continental and Bentayga is now included in the Flying Spur, and for an optional cost the Bentley Rotating Display will either show you the infotainment screen (with wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and wireless mobile charging), a trio of analog dials (with a compass, chronometer, and outside temperature gauge), or a continuation of the unbroken veneer that continues around the interior. I love the updated instrument cluster, with its more comprehensive display options, and the ability to dim the majority of the cluster to only show a highlight around the speedometer and rev counter needles.
Carbon fiber side skirts get a nice detail.
Being Driven In The Absolute Luxury
Should your enjoyment of the Flying Spur be intended to be from the back seat, you'll be treated to an experience few manufacturers can dream of. Long rear doors (with too cool 3D textured interior panels) make for easy entry and exit, and wide seats welcome you with plush cushioning and good lateral support. Additional head pillows are fitted with softer suede-like material, for greater comfort as you nod off while your driver takes you home after a rough day of meeting with the board.
Via a small screen between the front two seats, you can adjust the climate control and audio to your liking. Your rear seats are fully adjustable, with memory storage for normal riding or setting up a more relaxed position. While this Flying Spur didn't have the extra cool fridge and extending rear seats like the Rolls-Royce Ghost I reviewed, the Bentley's back seats were adjustable, and still offered loads of legroom at a fully optioned price that's nearly $50,000 less than the base price of the Ghost.
Yes, those wings are illuminated.
Grand Touring Brilliance
The Flying Spur may give the impression of a wealthy passenger-toting sedan, Bentley hasn't lost its identity. The Flying Spur still offers the perfect balance of opulence in the cabin with grand touring performance Bentley has excelled at providing since pre-war gentleman racers helped build the marque into an icon. Where the Bentley Bentayga I tested is fabulous for covering loads of miles over any surface, whether paved or not, the Flying Spur is exceptional at obliterating stretches of road with long straights and plenty of fun curves alike. Sharing the VW MSB platform, which also underpins the Porsche Panamera, it's no wonder the Flying Spur is so good as a driver's car.
Bentley's 626-horsepower W12 is a marvel of power and refinement. While the 540-horsepower V8 option is a fine powerplant that will please most drivers, this car was destined to have twelve cylinders shoehorned under its bonnet. The W12-equipped Flying Spur's ability to accelerate with a wave of unbridled torque is achieved with a level of smoothness the most talented esthetician could never equal. With a subtle pull, you get the faintest feeling of speed increasing, but a quick glance at the speedometer will indicate that you've far exceeded the posted limit, and are well on your way to jail if law enforcement patrols can set up a road block far enough ahead to catch you. I didn't flex the top speed of the Flying Spur during my week-long test, but I did give it some toll road exercise on a couple occasions, and can report that at ridiculous speeds it's balanced, comfortable, and confident.
Cornering dynamics in the Flying Spur are remarkable. Bentley fitted an aluminum double-wishbone suspension up front, an aluminum multi-link setup out back, and installed three-chamber air springs at all four corners, supplemented by continuous damping control and a 48V anti-roll system. There are four drive modes, and while there's an individual option, I found that leaving the Flying Spur in "B" mode was perfect for anything I threw at it. Wrapped around machined 22-inch wheels are a set of 275/35/22 front and 315/30/22 rear Pirelli P-Zero all season performance tires.
This combination of suspension hardware and tires keeps the Bentley flat in any curve at any speed, somehow concealing its massive weight, allowing handling characteristics found in smaller performance-focused sedans I've tested. Slowing the 5,000-pound sedan is managed by massive 420mm (16.5") rotors with ten-piston calipers on the front axle and the rear is fitted with 380mm (15") rotors and four-piston calipers. Doing a couple different days of testing the Flying Spur on twisty roads typically reserved for sports cars, I'm stunned how competent it was after hours of flogging.
There's No Better Way To Drive And Be Driven In One Car
With the Mulsanne being discontinued, the Flying Spur needs to carry the opulent four-door torch for Bentley while still upholding its grand touring appeal. Thankfully the Flying Spur is luxurious enough to make most wealthy driven customers happy while putting a smile on their face when they decide to storm down a back road.
As I expressed in my review of the Rolls-Royce Ghost, it's brilliant in its own right, but Bentley strikes a chord with me as a driving purist. This Bentley costs $100,000 less than the Ghost, looks much better, and provides a driving experience that's in another league. It is the ultimate grand touring luxury sedan.