Awaiting its 2012 model-year update, the Bentley Continental Flying Spur is back for 2011 and in showrooms, largely carried over from 2010.
The Flying Spur was one of the catalysts of the reinvention of Bentley, back in 2006 when it and the Continental GT gave the British brand a new entry point into the exotic-luxury realm. Priced just under $200,000, the Flying Spur rose above the ranks of the Maserati Quattroporte, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and the Porsche Panamera, and put a distinctly British spin on the emerging exotic four-door niche.
The Flying Spur still looks contemporary, if more sedate than the Conti GT that shares its architecture. It's been upstaged somewhat by the new Jaguar XJ and Aston Martin Rapide, but the Spur still conveys elegance and its tailored good looks have endured. Inside, the Flying Spur's dual-binnacle dash is dressed in walnut or chestnut veneers, all precisely hand-cut and matched to create a mirror-image grain symmetry. A Breitling timepiece studs the center, and it's surrounded by wood, hand-stitched leather, and real chrome pulls for the air vents.
A twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W-12 engine channels 552 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque in the Spur. The massive power is distributed to the pavement through an all-wheel-drive system and a six-speed automatic capable enough to hurtle the 5,400-pound Spur from 0-60 mph in less than five seconds and up to a top speed of 194 mph. That's for the standard Spur; a Flying Spur Speed introduced in 2009 hits 600 hp and twists out 554 lb-ft of torque; the added power drops acceleration to 60 mph to 4.5 seconds and lifts top speed to 200 mph.
The Flying Spur exudes refinement and sophistication in its driving experience. Strong, silent, and fast, the Spur quietly glides over road imperfections and is unruffled at 100-mph-plus speeds. The steering's without much sensation, but the Spur is incredibly stable at speed. Capable of smoky burnouts, the Flying Spur has a precision that wouldn't seem possible, given its mass and length. The Speed's lowered suspension, 20-inch wheels, and available carbon-ceramic brakes push its limits even further.