TEST DRIVE | Bentley’s New Flying Spur
Even the young Royals are now seen driving or being driven in this Bentley don’t you know, and why not, it is an outstanding car in every aspect.
The Flying Spur was originally known as the Continental Flying Spur, but the Continental element of the name has now been dropped with the arrival of this all new model first introduced in 2013.
I thought a huge and heavy car like this being driven ‘confidently’ would never ever work – but how it proved me wrong! It went round corners like it was on rails and stuck to the road like it had Velcro on the tyres, quite amazing.
This car I had on test was powered by the now familiar 6.0-litre twin turbocharged W12 petrol engine that produces a massive 625ps, goes from 0-62 mph in a staggering 4.3 seconds (yes 4.3 seconds in a big Bentley!) and a top speed of 200mph. It is a quick thing and to say it is so large it is an engineering masterpiece. The Flying Spur has so much power, yet with it being coupled to a four-wheel drive system, the power goes to the road with ease, no wheel spin and never any doubt of its ability to go around any corner at any speed, it feels rock-solid.
All this power, road-holding, stability and exceptional cornering obviously come at a price in terms of economy and its green credentials. The official combined mpg is a mere 19 mpg, which no doubt will be difficult to achieve and the CO2 emissions figure is a whopping 343g/km.
The interior is really where the Flying Spur scores high points, as it is just so magnificent to look at, touch, feel and smell. It is a really nice place to sit, whether you are driving it, sat in the passenger seat or being chauffeured sat in the rear. Every seat is so comfortable and you feel so relaxed. Bentley have always paved the way in producing cars that contain the finest wood and leather, sourced from the best possible suppliers from around the world, and this is so evident in the Flying Spur. For example, Bentley uses only bull hides for the leather because a cows’ inferior hides contain unsightly stretch marks.
It’s no secret that Bentley is owned by the VW Group and quite rightly parts are used from other group companies, which ensure quality, reliability and it also helps to keep down costs. It’s the same in Lamborghinis, Skodas, Seats and Audis – they all share parts and components to some degree. When you first sit in the driver’s seat of the Bentley you notice that some of the knobs and levers do look and feel very similar to an Audi. Being familiar with the A8, I felt at home very quickly, and would not need to get out the owner’s manual to understand what everything does or where it is.
All these items and interfaces in the cockpit are tried and tested, so why change them? But Bentley has been clever by adding their own touches to make sure you know you are in a Bentley and not a top-end Audi. The air vents stay with tradition, by having large chrome ‘push-pull’ levers and not some cheap plastic round vents. The wood and leather is superb and the stitching is just fabulous, with a high degree of craftsmanship being displayed throughout the car. You wouldn’t expect anything less for £150,000, would you?
For rear seat passengers there is a small display, about the size of an iPhone, which is situated in between the two front seats and is removable. This small handheld device allows passengers to see how fast the car is travelling, operates the heating and a whole host of other things. It is very clever and great fun to use. The car I had on test had two rear screens with individual DVD players and headphones. Therefore both rear passengers can watch different things at the same time, which does not contribute to a good conversation but does make a journey go much quicker.
There is plenty of legroom in the rear, but not as much as long wheelbase saloon cars such as the Audi A8, Mercedes S-Class and Jaguar XJ, although more than enough for the tallest person and it isn’t cramped.
The Flying Spur weighs a whopping 2.5 tons, compared to the A8 at 2.0 tons and the length of the Bentley is 5.3 metres compared to the Audi at 5.25 metres.
The Bentley is a big heavy car, but driving it feels so nimble and easy to drive.
All this high quality and luxury which really is fit for a King, Queen or any of their family of course comes at a price. The Flying Spur starts at £141,000. Although if you tick a few options boxes and explore the Mulliner specifications (Bentley’s bespoke options and customisation division), then you can easily double that price should you wish.