2016 Bentley Flying Spur Preview

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The Car Connection Expert Review

The 2016 Bentley Flying Spur exudes opulence with its V-8 or W-12 engine. Both models deliver smooth, willing power and luxurious comfort.

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, in either V-8 or W-12 form. 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 that you've arrived.

Bentley used to badge the Flying Spur as a Continental, but in 2014 Bentley split its lineup, making the coupes and convertibles Continentals and the sedan the Flying Spur.

The Flying Spur is pared down of extraneous details. For example, the oval LED headlamps have no surrounds and they are larger outboard than inboard, which is the opposite of the Conti GT. Also compared to the Continental, the grille stands more upright, and the Spur transitions from front to back into a more crisply tailored look: the fenders flare more, the roof pillars are more angular, and the taillights are squared off. Bentley distinguishes between the 8- and 12-cylinder versions with some minute differences: V-8 cars have red-backed badges, a black-finished grille, and a figure-eight exhaust tip, while the W-12 cars have oval exhaust finishers, a chromed grille, and black-background badging.

Two powertrains are offered. The newest is the Audi-sourced, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 with cylinder deactivation. It pushes out 500 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque, good for a 0-60 mph time quoted at 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 183 mph.

Executives say the 6.0-liter W-12 is the brand's hallmark, as well as the fastest Bentley sedan ever. Output is 616 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. It's coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission 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 transmission that merits wheel-mounted, heavy-gauge paddles—not the flimsy ones it's given.

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 are tuned for a wide range of behavior, more plush on one end, more firm and responsive on the other. A standard set of adaptive dampers can alter the ride and roll stiffness. Light, natural steering feel complements the early-warning traction signals built into the 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 model is a bit more nimble, the consequence of having 300 pounds less sitting on its nose.

The Flying Spur's interior remains a luxury paradigm: it's functionally fit, fabulously finished, and bespoke to a certain degree in its palette of trim and color choices. It's 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.

A suite of infotainment services is 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 passengers, as well as by back-seat passengers via remote control. The remote also governs the twin 10-inch flat screens embedded in the front-seat headrests, offering rear sat passengers entertainment and in-car internet and wireless connectivity.

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. Numerous interior leather colors, stitching colors, and wood trims are offered—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. An optional Naim 1,100-watt audio system is available.

A Beluga specification for the V-8 model features a unique look inside and out. The exterior gets exclusive 20-inch black and bright machined alloy wheels and a gloss black radiator with a body-color lower grille bar. Inside, it has piano black trim, knurled gear shift paddles, contrast stitching on the seats and steering wheel, pile carpet floor mats, and boot carpet with contrasting leather binding.

Pricing starts around $200,000 for the V-8 model and $220,000 for the W-12, not including the stiff $2,725 destination charge and $2,600 gas-guzzler tax.

The gas-guzzler tax is apropos; the V-8 Flying Spur manages 14 mpg city, 24 highway, 17 combined. When equipped with a W-12 those numbers drop to 12/20/15 mpg.

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