Bentley Flying Spur
By Bill McCarthy
Claiming to be the ultimate driving machine, as a famous German firm has, is quite a boast.
Few could get anywhere near that claim, but the British-built Flying Spur could be in with a shout.
In fact, the company says it is the ultimate luxury Grand Touring saloon, offering the perfect fusion of performance-orientated agility and exclusive four-door, limousine-style comfort. Well, you would hope so for around £170k, but it does not disappoint.
German owned, by VW, but British designed and built in Crewe, it is close to the ultimate in motoring luxury and cutting edge technology which includes the retractable Flying B mascot, making its debut on the model.
The third generation is the flagship of the range and is a completely new car from the ground up with extended wheelbase and a host of high-end goodies.
This is a beautifully designed car with latest generation cut-crystal effect LED matrix headlamps and new wrap-around rear lamps incorporating ‘B’ motifs and either stylish new 21 and 22-inch wheel designs together with the signature grille.
It is handcrafted to the finest Mulliner specificaton level and packed with technology, including the new, all-wheel steering system. This acts together with the all wheel drive and and improved suspension to increase stability and handling, with front and rear wheels steering in opposite directions to making parking such a big car much easier and keeping it rock solid at high speeds.
It is also incredibly powerful, capable of 207 mph and hitting 60mph in under four seconds. Quite something for such a big motor, weighing in at nearly three tonnes gross, despite the use of lightweight materials on the chassis.
Performance is toe curling, but not the riotous drive you would expect from an out and out sports saloon. Okay, floor the accelerator and its like jet taking off, but occupants otherwise suffer no discomfort and feel as safe as you can be with such performance. Only muted roar from the mighty 626bhp W12 engine intrudes into the cabin.
The W12 configuration TSI engine delivers its staggering pace through a seamless eight-speed dual clutch transmission. The 900Nm of torque also delivers massive pulling power.
Floor the accelerator and the twin turbocharged beast is capable of hitting 60mph in a neck-wrenching 3.7 seconds.
All the power is all well and good, but it needs to be kept in a straight line and that where the four wheel drive kicks in. The vehicle will use rear-wheel drive as much as possible during normal driving, but the system will send drive to the front axle as required.
For better economy, the Variable Displacement system shuts intake and exhaust valves, fuel injection and ignition with the engine running as a six-cylinder for improved efficiency. This saves fuel obviously allowing the Bentley to reach a better than expected claimed 21mpg.
There are three drive modes where engine, gearbox and other chassis systems will modify to match the selected mode. Alternatively, the driver can personalise his or her own dynamic settings.
Just like its sporty sibling the Continental GT, it is sumptuous inside, a riot of handcrafted wood and leather of choice and chrome, together with jewellery-inspired diamond knurled finish switchgear and classy analogue style clock.
Bentley says design lines flow from the new wing-themed fascia to connect the front and rear passenger areas and create a completely integrated style. There’s no doubting the comfort with fluted leather seats, which feature diamond quilting for the Mulliner Driving Specification, while three-dimensional diamond quilted leather doors inserts are a world first.
For those who like the bells and whistles, the optional Bentley Rotating Display is a must. Start the engine and a flat, veneered section of the fascia rotates to reveal the choice of 12.3-inch digital touchscreen which operates main functions of the car, including Apple and Android connectivity, sound system and climate control plus sat nav, 60gb hard drive, optional sirius satellite radio and Google street view. Rotate for analogue dials which are compass, temperature gauge and chronograph timer, or back to a plain wood veneer finish.
For those who are passengers, or being chauffeured, to the rear there is a detachable remote touch screen, which operates all the major functions, including the blinds, climate control and rear seat massage functions. It can also control the mood lighting system
Is it well equipped? Well, it costs just shy of £170,000, so yes. It has just about anything you can think of, or so you thought, from the expensive Bang & Olufsen 16-speaker sound system to the 20-way adjustable seats with (optional) cooling, heating and massage functions. But the list of optional extras is eye watering if you have a spare few grand knocking about to give a total price for this model of over £200k.
But boot space is also surprisingly good, with 420 litres, ample space for those designer suitcases.
Safety is vital with such a powerful car and the kit, some optional, features huge brake callipers, stability and traction control, a full complement of airbags and features including Active Lane Assist, Traffic Jam Assist and Park Assist with 360 degree all round cameras, infra-red camera, and head-up display.
The ultimate machine, maybe, certainly the last word in luxury.
Bentley Flying Spur
Mechanical: 626bhp, 5958cc, 12 cylinder petrol engine driving all wheels via 8-speed auto gearbox
Max speed: 207mph
0-60mph: 3.7 seconds
Combined mpg: 23.3
CO2 emissions: 298g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles