2015 Bentley Flying Spur Preview

The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director

The 2015 Bentley Flying Spur reaches peak opulence--and more drivers, with the addition of a new V-8.

The Bentley Flying Spur is a potent symbol of status and wealth. Even $100,000 luxosedans seem a pale imitation of the Spur's quiet opulence. Square foot by square foot, it has as much hand-finished wood and hand-stitched leather as any vehicle on the planet, a perfect companion to its stately presence. Drive one, and it's obvious--you've arrived.

The Flying Spur once was also badged a Continental, but last year Bentley split that lineup of coupes, convertibles, and sedans down the middle. The four-door is just a Flying Spur now, and the renaming draws attention to the more emphatic styling differences between the cars in their current generation.

Pared down of extraneous details--the oval headlamps have no surrounds, for example--the Spur distances itself from the two-doors in subtle way. Those LED lamps are larger outboard than inboard, the opposite of the Conti GT, and the grille stands more at attention. The Spur also transitions from front to back into a more crisply tailored look: the fenders flare more, the roof pillars are more angular, and the taillamps are squared off. Between the eight- and twelve-cylinder versions, there are some minute differences: W-12 cars have oval exhaust finishers and a chromed grille, with black-background badging, while V-8 cars have red-backed badges, a black-finished grille, and a figure-eight exhaust tip.

The Flying Spur's interior remains a paradigm: it's functionally fit, fabulously finished, bespoke to a certain degree in its palette of trim and color choices, as much a cozy library of timeless car lines and finishes as it is a housing for Bentley's state-of-the-art infotainment technology.

As the most powerful and fastest Bentley sedan ever, the Flying Spur hasn't lacked for attention under the metal, either. Two powertrains are offered. The more exclusive one is the latest version of the 6.0-liter W-12 that executives say is the brand's hallmark. Output is 616 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. It's coupled to an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive with a variable torque split set at 40:60 from launch, but capable of shifting to 65 percent front or 85 percent rear as traction needs arise. Bentley quotes a 0-60 mph times of 4.3 seconds, and an astonishing top speed of 200 mph--in a car that weighs almost 5,500 pounds. It reels off whiplashes of power, controlled deftly by a paddle-shifted eight-speed automatic that merits wheel-mounted, heavy-gauge paddles--not the flimsy ones it's given. The new transmission and the use of more aluminum has improved gas mileage to 12 miles per gallon city, 20 miles per gallon highway, or 15 mpg combined.

For the new Flying Spur V8, Bentley fits a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8 with cylinder deactivation. It pushes out 500 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque, good for a 0-60 mph time quoted at 4.9 seconds, and a top speed of 183 mph. With more than 500 miles of driving range, the slightly more throaty, throttle-happy V8 earns EPA ratings of 14/24/17 mpg, a nudge in the greener direction.

To satisfy all the clients in all the places in the world where the Flying Spur appeals--China, America, Russia, Britain--the ride and handling have been tuned for a wider range of behavior, more plush on one end, more firm and responsive on the other. A standard set of adaptive dampers can alter its ride and roll stiffness for a serene ride or a more sporting feel. Light, natural steering feel complements the early-warning traction signals built into grippy Pirelli P-Zero tires; the Spur's more than willing to dive into tight corners, and setting its adaptive dampers to Sport gives it the lateral confidence to back up its promise, though it's less compliant when the road unkinks. The V-8 is a bit more nimble, the consequence of having 300 pounds less sitting on its nose.

A suite of infotainment services are matched to the Bentley's mission in life, and to the executive levels of charm found inside. Quiet and tastefully rendered, the Flying Spur's cabin is filled with muted details, and studded with "B" logos, all framing a large LCD screen for infotainment functions that can be controlled by front-seat and by back-seat passengers via remote control. The remote also governs the twin 10-inch flat screens embedded in the front-seat headrests for those rear passengers--offering them in-car Internet and wireless connectivity and entertainment.

The cabin can be trimmed out as a four-seater with 14-way power adjustment and memory, heating and ventilation at all seating positions, or with a "plus-one" middle seat without those added controls. Some 17 interior leather colors and seven wood trims are offered, and 17 stitching colors--a palette that runs from sober grey to magnificent damson. A Mulliner Driving Specification adds the best flourishes: diamond-quilted seats, drilled alloy foot pedals, a knurled sports shift lever, jeweled filler cap, and 20- or 21-inch two-piece alloy wheels wrap up the package. An optional Naim 1,100-watt audio system is available.

Prices start on either side of $200,000 for the V-8 and W-12 Flying Spur, not including a stiff $2,725 destination charge.

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