Bentley builds some of the most bodacious luxury cars in the world. This British brand is synonymous with opulence and performance; its products scream “I’ve made it!” but as politely as possible.
Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 makes 500 hp, 487 lb-ft
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 14 miles per gallon city, 24 highway, 17 combined
Price: $253,865 as tested
Now let’s say you’ve really succeeded in life and the company’s Continental coupe has caught your eye. To be certain it’s a fine automobile, but let’s also say you need a vehicle with more than two doors. Well, Bentley has just the car for you.
And it’s called the Flying Spur. You can think of this vehicle as a more practical Continental, one with a cushy back seat and spacious trunk, though it offers much more than that, all without sacrificing luxury or style.
What’s in a Name?
This car’s name is simultaneously heroic and hoary, bringing to mind some sort of gallant British cavalry regiment as well as an obscure medical condition. “The Flying Spurs charged headlong at the enemy line, scattering their bravest soldiers like seeds from a milkweed pod.” Of course it also connotes something else entirely. “Mrs. Withershins had two flying spurs removed and is resting quietly. We hope she’ll be more ambulatory following the procedure.”
But whatever this car’s name means to you there’s no need to fear because its interior is one of the most lavish of any available today. The driver and passengers are treated to restrained design, top-level materials and the serenity of a Zen garden, one that happens to ride on 19-inch wheels of course.
Beyond all of this the Flying Spur has unmistakable presence on the road, not at all unlike the queen’s motorcade if such a grouping of vehicles could be condensed into one car. Many other drivers and passersby don’t seem to notice this machine, but people in the know swivel their heads as you go past.
And can you blame the gawking? This magnificent machine is more than 17 feet long, in excess of seven feet wide and just shy of five feet tall. It’s a massive car, though when painted a subtle color, like optional Granite ($5,600), it tends to blend in with traffic, looking more Avalon than Aventador.
Fit for a King
The Flying Spur’s cockpit is unique compared to what’s found in some of its rivals. It’s not as stuffy as something you’d get in a Rolls-Royce nor is it as cramped and sport-focused as the interior of an Aston Martin. Bentley has managed to combine the best of both worlds; it’s a real Goldilocks, offering well-heeled motorists both luxury and fun.
The cabin is dripping with ultra-premium leather, intricate machine-turned aluminum trim, a knurled shift knob and lots of other first-class materials. From high-quality switchgear to elegant design the Flying Spur’s interior feels like it costs every bit of a quarter-million dollars, which is convenient because that’s what our test model went for, but more on pricing in a few paragraphs.
One particularly unique interior element is the knobs that control airflow out of the dashboard vents. These push-pull controls are a wonderful throwback feature that brings to mind a Victorian-era pipe organ. They work beautifully and feel extraordinarily expensive.
This car’s back seat is incredibly spacious and comfortable. Legroom is commodious, the twin perches are plush yet supportive and there are even fold-down tray tables. Additionally, rear-seat riders can control various climate and seat functions with a removable remote that docks in the center console. Looking like a chunky Android smartphone this touch-screen device is a high-tech feature in an otherwise very traditional cabin.
Technology and Numbers
Of course in-car electronics go far beyond this little remote. There’s a requisite navigation system, the driver and front passenger are treated to extremely comfortable bucket seats that are both heated and cooled, there’s a power rear sun shade, multi-zone climate control and much, much more.
In addition to this, our tester was optioned up with a refrigerated bottle cooler ($2,180), heated steering wheel ($490), Naim premium audio system ($7,630), extra multimedia equipment including a rear-seat entertainment setup with two 10-inch LCD screens ($7,445) and more. Additional odds and ends include contrast stitching ($1,940), red brake calipers ($1,525), deep-pile floor mats ($490) and a heated three-spoke tiller ($490).
Including a grand in gas-guzzler taxes as well as $2,725 in destination fees this Flying Spur V8 checked out at a princely $253,865. That means the car is loaded up with nearly 60 grand in options. But still, even at its out-the-door price it’s a relative bargain compared to the Rolls-Royce Ghost, which starts around 290 large.
For motorists that prefer buttons you can start and stop the engine with the push of a finger. Catering to drivers that like more traditional ignitions, there’s a slot to the left of the steering wheel where you can stick the key and give it an ol’-fashioned twist to fire the car up.
There’s plenty to love about the Flying Spur’s interior and its available technology but unfortunately I ran across one issue. The infotainment/navigation system is kind of dated. It’s not that intuitive nor is it all that responsive, with finger prods sometimes not registering immediately. It’s hardly the worst system on the market today but it could be a lot better at this price point.
The Flying Spur V8 is powered by a 4.0-liter (litre?) engine. This twin-turbocharged two-by-four puts out an impressive 500 horses along with 487 lb-ft of twist. It’s matched to a mild-mannered eight-speed automatic transmission, which sends torque to all four corners via a permanent all-wheel-drive system. Forty percent of the engine’s output heads to the front axle while the remaining 60 goes rearward.
When equipped with snow tires, as the test model I evaluated was, this car is practically unstoppable in inclement weather. It charges ahead through deep powder, almost without spinning a wheel.
A computer-controlled, self-leveling air-suspension system ensures the Flying Spur rides like a proper luxury sedan. This chassis arrangement also means the car doesn’t founder while negotiating curves at speed, keeping things on a nice, even keel.
Of course if you want even more power and are willing to shell out a few additional stacks of cash Bentley will happily sell you a Flying Spur with a 6.0-liter W12 engine. These cars are graced with 616 horses and 590 lb-ft of torque.
As for consumption, expect the V8 version to be every bit as ravenous as it is pricey. According to the U.S. EPA it should return 14 miles per gallon in urban driving conditions and 24 on highway jaunts. Combined it ought to pull down 17 MPG. Cylinder deactivation helps bolster these numbers, shutting half of its pots down when full fury is not required.
Given its prodigious dimensions and 5,300-plus pound curb weight the Flying Spur is not a car you hustle through corners or take auto-crossing. She’s a big girl and you need to treat her with respect, otherwise she could bite your hand. Straight lines and long trips are what this sedan was designed for.
Moving down the road Bentley’s Flying Spur V8 feels extremely smooth and supremely refined in just about every way, but curiously in spite of its 500-hp rating it doesn’t seem all that fast. Bentley claims it can reach mile-a-minute velocity in 4.9 seconds, topping out at 183 MPH. But mash the accelerator and this car moves ahead at what seems like a leisurely pace. I think the reason it feels somewhat lethargic is because of how serene it is inside. The cabin remains freakishly silent at all speeds. Riding in the Flying Spur is almost like being deprived of your hearing it’s that well isolated from the surrounding world.
Additionally this car’s braking is good, its steering nicely weighted and most of its secondary controls are a snap to use. However, I didn’t care for the paddle shifters, which are fixed to the steering column. I found that they often got in the way and forced the other control stalks to be pushed lower than I would have liked, making them an uncomfortable reach. #FirstWorldProblem, I know.
The 2015 Flying Spur V8 is a magnificent automobile with a sumptuous cabin, spacious back seat and silken powertrain. It’s refined, it’s regal and it’s also expensive. If you have the means Bentley will happily sell you the way with this impressive car.
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