The New Bentley Flying Spur
There are plenty of chauffeur-driven limos, but what do you choose if you also like to drive yourself from time to time? That’s the sort of buyer the Bentley Flying Spur is designed to satisfy.
The smaller of Bentley’s two saloons, it’s essentially a stretched, four-door version of the evergreen Continental GT coupé.
As a result, the Flying Spur combines the opulence, refinement and fine craftsmanship expected of cars like this, with an almost infinite range of bespoke finishes to suit the deepest pockets. But how does it compare to the best German luxury cars?
Here’s a list of pros and cons.
Space in the Bentley Flying Spur
The Flying Spur gives four occupants all the leg and headroom they could ever want, while the seats themselves are as comfortable as a favourite armchair, yet supportive in bends.
There’s also a decent, if not outstanding, amount of storage space in the car, most notably a big tray in front of the gear lever. This is supplemented by a pair of cupholders, into which clips a suitably weighty sunglasses case that’s finished in the wood or metal that you’ve chosen for the dashboard.
The boot is big enough to take a weekend’s luggage or a couple of golf bags, although you’ll get more in the back of a BMW 7-series or Mercedes S-class.
Comfort of the Bentley Flying Spur
It would be unfair to call the Bentley Flying Spur uncomfortable, but you do feel more bumps and pitter-patter than you do in a Mercedes S-class, particularly at lower speeds.
True, the standard air suspension lets you choose from four modes, ranging from Comfort to Sport, but these seem to make very little difference to anything bar the graphic on the dashboard.
Fortunately, the ride settles down on the motorway, the seats are wonderfully supportive and the Flying Spur is virtually silent at the national speed limit. All of this makes it a superb long-distance tourer.
Dashboard Layout of the Bentley Flying Spur
The way in which Bentley has taken switches and buttons from its owner Volkswagen and made them work aesthetically in a much posher car is impressive. And the quality on display is sensational, particularly when it comes to the surfaces trimmed in leather.
For the most part, the controls are intuitive, too, although it’s worth noting that the Flying Spur doesn’t have the latest version of VW’s touchscreen entertainment and navigation system, so in reality, a Golf is significantly more advanced in this respect.
Driving Ease of the Bentley Flying Spur
The Flying Spur’s considerable width takes a bit of getting used to, and you sometimes have to crane your neck to see around the windscreen pillars at junctions. But over-the-shoulder visibility is good, and for the most part the car is both relaxing and easy to drive.
The smooth, eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s fitted to both the V8 model and the more expensive W12 helps, as does steering that’s usefully light at low speed.
The fact that four-wheel drive is standard means the Flying Spur is also a luxury saloon you can take out in all conditions, despite the vast power of its engines.
Whichever Flying Spur you go for, it’s an enjoyable car to drive, with precise steering and immense grip.
Yes, the brakes have to work hard to slow down all that mass, and yes it’s a tiny bit barge-like in the way it corners. But it still feels more agile than a 2.5-tonne luxury saloon has a right to.
You’ll also revel in the perfectly tuned exhaust note and the surge of power every time you brush the accelerator: the “basic” V8 model goes from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds, while the top-of-the-range W12 achieves the same sprint in 4.6 seconds.
Reliability of the Bentley Flying Spur
Servicing is required every 12 months or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first. And the warranty covers the car for three years, no matter how many miles you do.
The Bentley Flying Spur is a big, heavy car, plus the W12 version has a 12-cylinder engine that produces more than 600bhp, so you won’t be surprised to hear it drinks super unleaded like it’s going out of fashion.
The entry-level V8 model is the better buy, then, for as well as being naturally less thirsty, it can shut down four of its eight cylinders when they’re not required, a seamless process that means you can coax 20mpg or more out of it. That’s enough for a range of about 400 miles between fuel stops.
Safety of the Bentley Flying Spur
Front, side and window airbags are fitted, as is a stability control system that will help you to recover the car if it begins to skid.
What the Flying Spur lacks is the latest round of advanced safety systems, such as lane-keeping assist and autonomous braking. That’s disappointing given that they’re available on cars that cost a tenth of the price.