- Potent, smooth powertrain
- Standard all-wheel drive
- Plush, controlled ride
- Heavy, heavy weight
- Sometimes confusing controls
The 2012 Bentley Continental doesn't stir the soul the way its two-door siblings do, but it's a powerful, smooth, refined, and eminently luxurious sedan.
Before the Continental coupes and the Flying Spur sedan, Bentley's image was stale, fusty, and in need of reinvention. After the Continental range arrived, it was a hit with the wealthy, stars, and athletes alike. Now, the 2012 Bentley Continental Flying Spur carries on that new tradition with the same familiar styling and core feature set that it brought upon its debut.
The six-year-old design of the Continental Flying Spur is beginning to show its age, particularly around the high, formal roofline. The rest of the car is long, low, and more streamlined, however, lending the design enough staying power to still be relevant. The characteristic Bentley grille, quad-oval headlights, and character-lined sheetmetal hold up particularly well. Inside, the cabin is understated and elegant, with hand-cut mirror-grain wood trim, fine hand-stitched leathers, and real chrome accents, in addition to a Breitling timepiece in the dash.
Under the hood, the Flying Spur packs a potent twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W-12 engine rated at 552 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Smooth, forceful, and potent, the engine moves the big 5,400 Bentley to 60 mph in under five seconds with a top speed of 194 mph. The upgraded Flying Spur Speed gains another 48 horsepower and 75 pound-feet of torque, and dashes to 60 in just 4.5 seconds before reaching a top speed of 200 mph.
Despite the impressive power package, the Flying Spur is more about a plush, comfortable ride than sport-inspired handling. Cruising at speed is the Bentley's natural aptitude, though it will hustle when pushed--just remember it's a 5,400-pound car. It is, after all, the driver's Bentley. All-wheel drive is standard.
Comfort almost goes without saying in a Bentley of any sort, and the Flying Spur is no exception. Front or rear, the seats are lavishly appointed, but in this case, the front is the preferred row. The controls can be a bit hard to divine at first, but once familiarized, become easy to use. The rear seats are bit tighter than you'll find in some of the limousine-class competition, but the overall fit, finish, and craftsmanship of the Flying Spur's cabin put even high-end rivals like the S-Class in their place.
A wide, almost unknowable array of options can be added to the huge list of standard equipment. Some of the standard gear includes power-closing doors, power seats with massage function, and navigation. An optional Naim 1,000-watt audio system is available, but hasn't impressed much over the standard unit. The real hook with Bentley and the Flying Spur is the level of personalization possible--if you can dream it, they can build it.
In terms of safety, the 2012 Flying Spur--naturally--hasn't been crash-tested. It is, however, a very large and formidable piece of machinery, equipped with standard front, side, and side-curtain airbags, ABS, traction and stability control, and active headrests. One concern for some might be the thick supporting pillars for the roof, which can get in the way of sightlines both forward and rearward.