New & Used Bentley Flying Spur: In Depth
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The Bentley Flying Spur is a five-passenger, high-performance four-door capable of extraordinary speed and composure. It cannot be adequately described as a luxury vehicle, since its trappings surpass those of most everything available today. Like all Bentleys, it's one of the finest vehicles made, balanced nicely by its traditional British accoutrements and up-to-date technology from its German parents.
In its first generation, the big sedan bore the Continental nameplate, but more recently the Flying Spur has been separated from the fastback two-door coupe and convertible models that relaunched the brand more than a decade ago. The two- and four-door models continue to share a platform and bear very similar styling, however.
The Flying Spur is a rival for the Rolls-Royce Ghost, the new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class sedan, and the low-volume Aston Martin Rapide.
Introduced in the 2006 model year in the U.S., the Flying Spur has been evolved carefully over its life span. The basics haven't changed much--the Flying Spur still gets attention with its four-circle front end, its wedding-cake shoulders and roofline, and the sloping formality of its trunklid. It's shorn of the very formal look of the big Bentley Arnage, thankfully--and its styling had positive influences on the Bentley Mulsanne that was introduced for 2011.
The interior of the Flying Spur will impress anyone with its variety of top-shelf materials—burled walnut, knurled aluminum, beautiful leather, soft lambswool carpets, layers of lacquer and chrome everywhere—and finely detailed craftsmanship. The Flying Spur doesn't have quite as much rear-seat room as you might expect, but that keeps it relatively small and driver-friendly—and gives folks looking for the chauffeured experience a reason to step up to the stately Mulsanne sedan.
The Flying Spur's powertrains have been derived more from Volkswagen Group companies than from the brand's British heritage. The twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W-12 engine originally laid out 552 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, and distributed it all to an all-wheel-drive system through a six-speed automatic. The first-generation Continental Flying Spur's claimed 0–60 mph time of less than five seconds and top speed of 194 mph were eventually bested by a Speed edition, which bumped the W-12's power rating to 600 hp and 554 lb-ft of torque, cutting 60-mph acceleration times to 4.5 seconds and lifting top speed to 200 mph. Handling was unbelievably responsive for the 5,500-pound Flying Spur, and braking power was astonishing and abrupt.
The new Bentley Flying Spur
The second-generation Bentley Flying Spur, launched at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show as a 2014 model, received a new and evolutionary look that's a little sexier but still on the conservative side. The re-engineered body and chassis aim to provide a sportier driving experience, while the cabin is quieter than ever. Its W-12 engine received a substantial output boost--to 616 hp and 580 pound-feet--and it's now mated to an excellent eight-speed automatic transmission. The car dropped the Continental name for this generation, separating it slightly from the brand's coupe and convertible models wearing that badge.
Bentley added a second engine to the Flying Spur line for 2015, creating the first Flying Spur V8. Its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 makes 500 horsepower. This new model is lighter and even a bit more nimble than its W-12-powered counterpart, and is able to hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and move on to a top speed of 183 mph. With the help of cylinder deactivation, the smaller engine returns a slight improvement in overall fuel economy, to 17 mpg.
As you'd expect, the fit and finish of the Flying Spur are exquisite. Buyers can choose from a range of matched veneers, leathers, and trims--or they can bring their own choices to the design table. Other additions to the Flying Spur include wireless hotspot capability, a rear-seat entertainment suite, and a new feature that lets passengers control more vehicle functions from the back seat.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have produced crash-test scores for the Flying Spur, but it's replete with airbags in all directions, as well as traction and stability control integrated with its anti-lock brakes. The standard all-wheel drive can also be seen as somewhat of a safety item, as well.
A new Flying Spur Speed model is likely on its way, as a Speed version of the Continental coupe and convertible has already been launched for this generation. You can bank on a higher-output W-12 for the model, as well as some stylistic tweaks to set it apart from the standard models.