Test Drive: The New Bentley Flying Spur
Ian Lamming drives Bentley’s latest grand tourer, the Flying Spur
LOOK at me, look at me, and people do, well, not so much me but definitely my car.
Modesty aside, that’s what Bentleys are all about. They are a vehicle in which drivers want to revel, to languish, to pose, but, paradoxically, in a very British, reserved and far-from-crass fashion and the new Flying Spur is no exception.
It’s not so much look at me as look at this beautiful piece of craftsmanship; yes you can still get such quality in a world dominated by throw-away mentality and plastic. It is much more share the love than in your face boastfulness and brashness.
Any colour would do but the sage green is completely, utterly and inexorably glorious. It is classical, tasteful and unusual and set off sublimely by the ‘Blackline Specification’ that replaces chrome and shiny with dark, mean and moody, including the 22in wheels.
Present livery like this on a vehicle that is 5ft tall, 7ft wide and 17.5ft long and you have a car that makes a huge statement. It’s a massive vehicle yet somehow manages to looks sleek and sporty. It’s described as a sedan, but that makes it sound American and it is far too tasteful to be anything to do with anything that side of the pond so I will call in a Grand Tourer.
Test car is the Mulliner specification so expect unbridled craftsmanship and loveliness all over again. It is not just an interior it is an experience and one that seeps through your eyes and skin and into the soul. I defy anyone to be anything other than ecstatic while occupying this amazing space.
Flying Spur melds the ultimate in quality with the latest in technology so there are swathes of hide, acres of wood, metal and carbon fibre, a secret agent-style dash which flips open on start and peerless ergonomics. It is just a happy place to inhabit whether you are driving, riding shotgun up front or relaxing in the rear cabin playing with the heated/cooled/massage seats and controlling a range of functions with the most tactile hand control ever to pop out of a fascia. The only decision is whether to have the blinds up or down as you enjoy the sound of the optional £6,725 ‘Naim for Bentley’ premium audio system, ionized air and selectable ambient light. Ahhhh, and relax.
I suppose at some point it is important to remember this is a fine car to drive and to finally move off the driveway.
I opted for the V8 because I love V8s. I could have specified the 6.0 W12 or the latest V6 Hybrid.
The 4.0 litre V8 has a grumble to die for which seems to reach the marrow. It is also blessed with rapid performance thanks to twin scroll turbochargers and 550PS with 770Nm of torque. Remember, Flying Spur weighs in at 2.3 tonnes but will crack 60mph in four seconds as it powers to a top speed of 198mph. You would imagine that this combo would result in scary fuel consumption but it will easily average between 22 and 24mpg.
Flying Spur is a big old car yet does not feel intimidatingly so. It is easy to drive even when the going goes narrow and the fact all four wheels steer helps enormously. When you are going slowly, such as when trying to manoeuvre, the front and rear wheels steer in opposite directions to reduce the turning circle effectively. At speed they steer in the same direction giving the Bentley that planted on-the-rails feel. A super-slick eight-speed automatic gearbox transmits all that lovely oomph to all four wheels so grip levels and confidence remain high. If there is a tiny fly in the ointment it might be tyres. Not sure if they are run-flats or it’s just that they are so low-profile but they can feel a tad harsh under foot. The suspension is great, there’s just some unwanted interference coming up from the road exacerbated by everything else being some supremely quiet and vibe free.
Flying Spur is a car, I’m sure, that you could own for years and still find some tiny detail to enjoy that had previously gone unnoticed. Little things, like the Bentley emblem puddle lights that illuminate the ground when you open the doors providing a posh carpet of branding to walk on, or the illuminated ‘Flying B’ that rises majestically out of the radiator surround, or the tactile plungers to open the airvents, all conspire quietly to set the Bentley apart in a way that says ‘look at me, I’m a classic’.
Bentley Flying Spur V8
Engine: 4.0 litre V8
Top speed: 198mph
Combined MPG: 22.2
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
CO2 g/km: 288
Price: from £160,200.00