- Exquisite details
- W-12 or V-8
- From AWD to wi-fi, a tech showcase
- Crisply tailored sheet metal
- Standard all-wheel drive
- A massive sedan
- Fuel economy
- Even before options, stratospheric prices
The 2016 Bentley Flying Spur exudes opulence with its V-8 or W-12 engine. Both models deliver smooth, willing power and luxurious comfort.
Even among equal luxosedans the 2016 Bentley Flying Spur may be a little more equal than others. More wood and leather probably goes into the Flying Spur than found on many working ranches, and whether in V-8 or W-12 form, own the big Bentley and no matter where you're going it's clear that you've already arrived.
Bentley used to badge the Flying Spur as a Continental, but Bentley split its lineup in 2014, making the coupes and convertibles Continentals and the sedan the Flying Spur.
The Flying Spur isn't adorned with extraneous details. The position of the oval LED headlights have been swapped from the Continental; on the Flying Spur they're bigger on the outside than they are on the inside. Compared to the Continental, the grille on the Flying Spur is more upright, and the Spur is sharper nose to tail; the fenders are more flared, the pillars are more steeply raked, and the taillights are squared off. Spotting the differences between the V-8 and W-12 models requires a sharp eye: V-8 cars have red badges, a black grille, and figure-eight exhaust tips. W-12 cars have oval exhausts, a chromed grille, and black badges. We hope there's not a test on these later.
Two powertrains are available in the Flying Spur, both turbocharged. The newest engine is an Audi-sourced 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 that produces 500 horsepower and 487 pound feet of torque. Bentley says in the Flying Spur, the V-8 posts a 0-60 mph time of 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 183 mph.
The traditional—and pricier—pick is the 6.0-liter turbocharged W-12 that makes 616 hp and 590 lb-ft. Mated to an 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, the W-12 jettisons the 5,500-pound luxury liner up to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds on the way to a top speed of 200 mph. The all-wheel-drive system is nominally split 40/60, front to rear, but can send up to 65 percent of the power to the front wheels, or up to 85 percent to the rear wheels. The system whips off lashes power, corralled by a paddle-shifted transmission that's far more confident than the flimsy wheel-mounted controls used to rifle through the gears. We'd prefer better, more confident shift paddles, but who says we can all have what we want all the time.
The Flying Spur must satisfy a wide range of clients around the world, including America, Russia, China, Britain, and beyond. To that end, the ride and handling are tuned for a wide range of scenarios that include "diplomat plush" to "paint shaker." Adaptive dampers can change the roll and ride stiffness with multiple stops in between depending on road conditions. The chassis is complemented by light, natural steering that warns drivers early if they're exceeding the limits of the grippy Pirelli P-Zero tires—no one wants to stuff a Bentley after all. The big Bentley is willing to dive into tight corners, hold on with its adaptive dampers, and pull through. Flying Spur V-8 models get the added benefit of 300 fewer pounds in the nose, which helps those cars feel a little more nimble on the road.
Inside, the Bentley four-door remains a benchmark for ultra-luxury interiors. We've found that it's as much of a cozy library of timeless finishes and material as it is a housing for Bentley's state-of-the-art car tech—both are in plentiful supply. The shapes, fit, and finishes in the Flying Spur are excellent, and that's before buyers even start customizing with their own shades or wood trims.
The aforementioned car tech aligns with Bentley's mission in life to cater to executive levels. Quiet, reserved, and tasteful, the Flying Spur's cabin is filled with subtle details and studded with "B" logos that draw as much attention as the large LCD screen up front or twin 10-inch flat screen stuffed in the headrests. Speaking to the car's limousine mission, rear seat riders can control as much of the Flying Spur's infotainment as the front passengers can control, and executive treatments in the rear offer a tempting reason to avoid calling "shotgun" every time.
Plentiful color options come from the Bentley factory, which include numerous leather swatches, stitching colors, and wood trims ranging from a sober gray to a magnificent damson. Under those premium materials, the cabin can be fit with power adjustable heated and cooled seats at every position, with plenty of leg room all the way around. Diamond-quilted seats, 20- or 21-inch wheels, a knurled shifter, and jeweled gas cap are part of a Mulliner Driving Specification that adds a premium touch to the already ultra-premium ride. Audiophiles aren't left out; an optional 1,100-watt Naim audio system sounds better than being there, we say.
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.