2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 9, 2009

The 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is strong, silent, and spacious, though not as compelling as its two-door cousins.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com have driven the Bentley Continental Flying Spur and have compared the luxury sedan to other vehicles to bring you this road test of its styling, performance, comfort, safety, and features. Editors also researched reviews from other respected auto Web sites and have compiled the best into a companion full review, to show you how different sources report on the Flying Spur-and to help you decide which advice to take when shopping for a new car.

The Bentley Continental two-doors and the four-door Flying Spur sedan were catalysts: They completely reinvented the fusty Bentley brand and brought a whole new crew of rap moguls, reality stars, and pro athletes to the fold, for better or worse. For 2010, the Flying Spur carries on with the same styling it's worn since early in the decade, albeit in a couple of new colors. Prices begin at just less than $200,000, and the primary competition for those dollars are machines like the Maserati Quattroporte, the Audi S8, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and the Porsche Panamera.

It's been on the market since 2006, and the 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur's formal roofline is looking a little less compelling with the years. The Flying Spur is long, low, and wide, but not terribly rakish as four-door sedans like the 2010 Jaguar XJ can be. There's no mistaking its streamlined Bentley grille, and the chromed mesh grilles and air intakes between the quad-oval headlights, which still look contemporary, but the more upright pillars and glass areas don't make the same visual impact. The Flying Spur's deep character line running from front wheel wells to the taillights has been upstaged at home in Britain by that new Jaguar, even at home in Crewe by the 2011 Bentley Mulsanne. It's low-key and not flamboyant, even on close inspection-the opposite of the two-door Bentley Continental GT. Inside, the Flying Spur's cabin is a twin to the two-door's dash, with a dual-binnacle theme dressed in walnut or chestnut veneers, all precisely hand-cut and matched to create a mirror-image grain symmetry. Front and center on the dash is a Breitling timepiece, flanked by a steering wheel in hand-stitched leather, stainless-steel pedals and footrest, and real chrome pulls for the air vents.

Review continues below

The 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur goes rogue under the hood, where it features a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W-12 engine that produces 552 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. The unusual engine layout offsets pairs of piston cylinders in a way that generates very well-balanced engine motions and prodigious power, and it's more compact than a traditional V-12. The massive horsepower and torque are distributed to an all-wheel-drive system through a six-speed automatic that's up to the chore of pushing around the 5,400-pound Spur. Bentley claims a 0-60 mph time of less than five seconds and a top speed of 194 mph for the standard Spur; a Flying Spur Speed introduced last year hits 600 hp and 554 lb-ft of torque, which cuts acceleration times to 60 mph to 4.5 seconds and lifts top speed to 200 mph.

Though it's capable of super speeds, the 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is focused on a refined, sophisticated driving experience. It's strong, silent, and fast, as it should be. Cruising at 100 mph is effortless, and the Spur quietly glides over road imperfections to convince you it's actually going much slower. The engine emits a low, distant rumble and pairs it with a slight turbo whoosh, though it's all muted properly, and thanks to a complex computer-controlled suspension, the Spur feels tremendously stable even when the road coarsens. The steering's without much sensation, but it's precise and fast for such a large car, and it gives the Spur a maneuverable feel, though it's well over 17 feet long. The sport of driving is very subtly enjoyed from behind the big leather-wrapped wheel-smoky burnouts are entirely possible, but restraint, please-especially with the Speed edition and its lowered suspension, 20-inch wheels, and available carbon-ceramic brakes. The Spur's incredible heft and power require great stopping, and Bentley claims the Spur's huge discs are the most powerful on the road today.

The five-seat Flying Spur has a plush, well-crafted cabin, but it's better to ride in front. Those front seats are supportive yet soft, and can be adjusted perfectly to suit most drivers. The controls are somewhat elusive at first glance, but grow easier to use over time-even if critics point out that some are related to those in the former Volkswagen Phaeton sedan. In back, the Spur is a little tighter than some other limousine-class cars, and it doesn't offer the same smoking-room sensations of the larger, more sensational Bentley Arnage. There's no drinks cabinet-this is the driver's Bentley-but backseat passengers can access the Spur's entertainment system. The justification for the Flying Spur's incredible price is in craftsmanship; it's hand-fitted with leather, wood, and chrome details that make "cheaper" cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class seem pedestrian. Bentley's Crewe workshops do all the interior trimming by hand-and materials are carefully selected and finished, such as the unbleached, unstained veneer used on the Spur's dash and doors.

The 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is exceptionally rare and expensive, and as such, it hasn't been crash-tested by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) or the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). A full roster of airbags and safety features-including side and side-curtain airbags and electronic stability control-is included.

A dizzying set of standard equipment can be topped with extravagant options. The 2010 Flying Spur comes with automatic four-zone climate control; power closing for the doors; multi-adjustable power seats with a massaging function; and a navigation and audio system that have unfortunately complex secondary controls driven through an LCD screen. Bentley offers adaptive cruise control as an option, along with a Naim 1,000-watt audio system that hasn't impressed editors as much as its price tag shocks them. Personalization is the key to making the Spur distinctive-and terribly expensive, too.

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2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur

Styling

Even though the 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur's exterior isn't tremendously flashy, it still draws a crowd wherever it goes.

The Bentley Continental two-doors and the four-door Flying Spur sedan were catalysts: They completely reinvented the fusty Bentley brand and brought a whole new crew of rap moguls, reality stars, and pro athletes to the fold, for better or worse. For 2010, the Flying Spur carries on with the same styling it's worn since early in the decade, albeit in a couple of new colors. Prices begin at just less than $200,000, and the primary competition for those dollars are machines like the Maserati Quattroporte, the Audi S8, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and the Porsche Panamera.

The 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is long, low, and wide, but not terribly rakish as four-door sedans like the 2010 Jaguar XJ can be. There's no mistaking its streamlined Bentley grille, and the chromed mesh grilles and air intakes between the quad-oval headlights, which still look contemporary. It "tastefully" invokes its "estimable heritage without getting sentimental about it," Automobile reports. But the more upright pillars and glass areas don't make the same visual impact; it's low-key and not flamboyant, even on close inspection-the opposite of the two-door Bentley Continental GT. It's been out since 2006, and the 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur's formal roofline is looking a little less compelling with the years. Edmunds points out that there have been only "minor cosmetic revisions" to this four-door Bentley since it was launched. Edmunds says the "Flying Spur might lose some style points to its ultra-expensive competition." The lineup also includes the "$204,795 Speed" edition, which, according to Motor Trend, is distinguished by "dark-tinted front grilles, wider tail pipes, and split-spoke 20-inch alloys." Autoblog adds the Speed gets "sill plates emblazoned with the word 'Speed' on all four doors."

Inside, the Flying Spur's cabin is a twin to the two-door's dash, with a dual-binnacle theme dressed in walnut or chestnut veneers, all precisely hand-cut and matched to create a mirror-image grain symmetry. Front and center on the dash is a Breitling timepiece, flanked by a steering wheel in hand-stitched leather, stainless-steel pedals and footrest, and real chrome pulls for the air vents. Calling it a "posh luxury cruiser," Edmunds says the Continental Flying Spur is a fine example of "classic British design." Automobile deems it a "leather-lined approximation of a men's club smoking room." ConsumerGuide praises the "large, boldly marked gauges [that] are clear and easy to read." Edmunds also remarks the "switchgear is much more functional than the fussy knobs and buttons from previous models-though it must be said that the controls lack a bit of the panache and romance from the past."

Review continues below
8

2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur

Performance

The 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur cloaks its supercar performance behind its tailored Savile Row suit.

The 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur goes rogue under the hood, where it features a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W-12 engine that produces 552 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. The unusual engine layout offsets pairs of piston cylinders in a way that generates very well-balanced engine motions and prodigious power, and it's more compact than a traditional V-12. Edmunds confirms the "6.0-liter twin-turbo W12...produces an astounding 552 hp and 479 pound-feet of torque." Car and Driver details a new Speed version, which is "now good for an even 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque." ConsumerGuide is impressed by the W-12 engine, observing that "power comes on immediately, even from a stop."

The massive horsepower and torque are distributed to an all-wheel-drive system through a six-speed automatic that's up to the chore of pushing around the 5,400-pound Spur. Edmunds adds that the engine's "power is channeled through a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control," while ConsumerGuide notes "some testers found the transmission slow to downshift as needed at highway speed."
However, their testers warn "wheel slip is non-existent thanks to standard AWD."
Road & Track reviewers report that the combination of the six-speed and AWD allows the 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed to "charge to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds." Even in the base Spur, Edmunds records "a 0-60-mph time under 5 seconds...and a top speed of 194 mph," which might lead you to "think there was a supercar underneath" the skin of this luxury sedan.

Fuel economy is disappointing. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the 2010 Bentley Continental should return 10/17 mpg. However, Road & Track says "the Speed model also sees a 3.5-percent improvement in fuel economy," thanks to increased drivetrain efficiencies.

Though it's capable of super speeds, the 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is focused on a refined, sophisticated driving experience. It's strong, silent, and fast, as it should be. ConsumerGuide says it "imparts more sportiness than might be expected," and Edmunds asserts it has "respectable handling ability." Cruising at 100 mph is effortless, and the Spur quietly glides over road imperfections to convince you it's actually going much slower. The driver-adjustable suspension offers several settings, and in the softest setting, the Bentley offers a "serene ride," Edmunds reports.
The engine emits a low, distant rumble and pairs it with a slight turbo whoosh, though it's all muted properly, and thanks to a complex computer-controlled suspension, the Spur feels tremendously stable even when the road coarsens. The sport of driving is very subtly enjoyed from behind the big leather-wrapped wheel-smoky burnouts are entirely possible, but restraint, please-especially with the Speed edition and its lowered suspension, 20-inch wheels, and available carbon-ceramic brakes. Road & Track comments, "Speed definitely rides more stiffly (even with the suspension set to its softest), and the steering transmits more road imperfections back to the driver,"

The Spur's incredible heft and power require great stopping, and Bentley claims the Spur's huge discs are the most powerful on the road today. In the Speed, Car and Driver takes down a "165-foot 70-to-0-mph stopping distance-a foot shorter than a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640." However, ConsumerGuide says on its stock Spur, "a spongy pedal marred overall brake feel."

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2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur has a lavish interior with top-drawer finishes-but the backseat's not an easy fit.

The five-seat Flying Spur has a plush, well-crafted cabin, but it's better to ride in front.

Those front seats are supportive yet soft and can be adjusted perfectly to suit most drivers. The controls are somewhat elusive at first glance, but grow easier to use over time-even if critics point out that some are related to those in the former Volkswagen Phaeton sedan. ConsumerGuide asserts that the "huge supportive [front] seats supply imperial long-distance comfort, though headroom is only adequate for taller drivers." Continuing with their praise, ConsumerGuide says that "the daunting array of seat adjustments can confuse at first, but allow for extreme comfort customization" for front-seat occupants.

In back, the Spur has a little less legroom than expected, and it doesn't offer the same smoking-room sensations of the larger, more sensational Bentley Arnage. There's no drinks cabinet-this is the driver's Bentley-but backseat passengers can access the Spur's entertainment system. Edmunds cites a "somewhat cramped rear seat." Motor Trend reviewers point out that the 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur "now offers a rear bench seat with electrically adjustable outboard seats," but Edmunds contends "the rear seats lack the adjustment and advanced features (such as cooling) available in competing sedans. Rear legroom, too, is comparatively scarce."

Rear seat space is at a premium in the Flying Spur, but the lineup at least offers copious cargo room. ConsumerGuide noted that the trunk felt larger than the 17 cubic feet listed, and noted that the large opening and low liftover added to the utility. Stowing the CD changer and DVD navigation system ate into useable space in the glove box, and cabin space disappeared in a hurry, they added.

The justification for the Flying Spur's incredible price is in craftsmanship; it's hand-fitted with leather, wood, and chrome details that make "cheaper" cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class seem pedestrian. Bentley's Crewe workshops do all the interior trimming by hand-and materials are carefully selected and finished, such as the unbleached, unstained veneer used on the Spur's dash and doors. According to Road & Track, it's "fair to say the build quality, craftsmanship and driving experience are worthy of a car of this price." Car and Driver observes "decadent trappings abound," while Edmunds points out the "leather- and lumber-lined cabin won't win any awards from environmentalists or animal rights activists, but it's still one of the most exquisitely constructed automotive interiors on the market today." Car and Driver says the sound of the W-12 engine is "simply eliminated with the double-paned glass up."

Review continues below
9

2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur

Safety

No crash-test results are available, but the 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur has a full complement of safety equipment.

The 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is exceptionally rare and expensive, and as such, it hasn't been crash-tested by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) or the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

A full complement of airbags and standard traction and stability control systems are included. The Continental includes active rear headrests that can reduce the likelihood of whiplash, but it's not all serious stuff. Edmunds noted that the Speed version made "Sport" for the traction control setting more fun; it's now less intrusive.

Visibility from the driver's seat is compromised by the Flying Spur's large pillars. ConsumerGuide describes how "visibility is generally good all around, though thickish front pillars compromise [the] forward view to the corners."

Review continues below
9

2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur

Features

The 2010 Bentley Continental Flying Spur lives up to its desired reputation as one of the most luxurious, feature-laden luxury cruisers on the road.

A dizzying set of standard equipment can be topped with extravagant options. The 2010 Flying Spur comes with automatic four-zone climate control; power closing for the doors; multi-adjustable power seats with a massaging function; a navigation system and audio system that have unfortunately complex secondary controls driven through an LCD screen. Edmunds reports that the standard equipment includes four-zone climate control, heated rear seats with massage, 19-inch wheels, and an adjustable air suspension. ConsumerGuide added that the 2010 Flying Spur tacks on navigation, cellphone connectivity, and heated front seats.

Bentley offers adaptive cruise control as an option, along with a Naim 1,000-watt audio system that hasn't impressed editors as much as its price tag shocks them, though Road " Track calls it the Spur's "coolest" option and admires its "crisp, clear, amazing" sound. And some features need updating; Edmunds takes exception to the "outdated infotainment interface" that makes the navigation system particularly difficult to, er, navigate.

Personalization is the key to making the Spur distinctive-and terribly expensive, too.

Review continues below
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8.6
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Styling 8
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