Bentley Continental Flying Spur Review
If you want a lesson in engineering excellence, drive the new Bentley Continental Flying Spur slowly. At 35mph, with just 1500rpms on the tachometer, the go-pedal responds to the slightest pressure with a perfectly measured amount of additional momentum. Reverse ditto the brakes. At the same time, the big Bentley’s power-assisted steering helms with an ideal combination of endless ease and infinite precision. All the Flying Spur’s systems work so well, and work so well together, that driving the $170k luxury car is an exercise in surgical satisfaction, offering complete mastery over a finely-honed instrument.
At full chat, the Continental Flying Spur has an ability to murder an open stretch of tarmac that beggars belief. She’ll steam from naught to 60mph in 4.9 seconds, and crest the ton just 6.4 seconds later. While you can pile on the mph’s without kickdown, why would you? Paddle, tip or auto– the Spur’s six-speed slips into lower gears like a supermodel slips into something more comfortable. And then the 17.4 foot luxobarge hurls itself down the road like God’s own fastball. No surprise, then, that the Flying Spur is the world’s fastest production sedan. Bentley turned down our request to enter the Spur in the Silver State Classic Road Race, which would have given it official membership status in their 200mph Club. Bugger!
Never mind. The accelerative experience is a delight in and of itself. Straight line performance is both more dramatic (“Can you PLEASE warn me before you do that next time? I just put a line of mascara down my neck.”) and more mundane (“I’m sorry Darling. How fast did you say we’re going? Really? How marvelous. How do I look?”) than you could possibly imagine. Ironically, the leather-lined leviathan’s sumptuous interior isn’t wholly responsible for the muffled ferocity. It’s the Flying Spur’s underlying mechanicals that elevate the car to plausible deniability come ticket time.
All hail the Spur’s W12. The 6.0-liter powerplant’s configuration is bizarre (two narrow angle V6’s joined in turbo-charged matrimony), sonically eccentric (more whine than woofle) and entirely unsuitable for mass motoring (10mpg in city mode). And? In this rarified demographic, all that matters is that the VW-sourced mill produces a torque curve that’s almost as flat as week-old champagne. In the great Bentley tradition of barking mad waftability, we’re talking about 479lb-ft. of twist at 1600rpm. What can you do with that much oomph lingering underfoot? What CAN’T you do with it?
Surprisingly, the answer to that question isn’t cornering. The Flying Spur changes direction with remarkable grace and conviction. Throw the 5000lbs. sedan into a corner and it leans a bit, and then hangs on for dear life (in the great Volkswagen Audi Group tradition). Understeer is out there, somewhere, but only truly determined stupidity will start sliding the beast’s nose towards the scenery. At any angle, the Spur’s multi-link rear axle and front double wishbones dismiss surface irregularities like a hot iron gliding over a wrinkled sheet. In fact, the air-suspended, four-wheel-drive Flying Spur offers more comfort and confidence through the twisties (long sweepers preferred) than its Continental cousin, the GT.
When it comes to style and cachet, both cars are so far ahead of the competition that it’s simply a matter of choosing between aesthetic aggression (GT) and dignified practicality (Flying Spur). The slow-selling Rolls Royce Phantom is the only car that can match the Continental Flying Spur’s exclusivity and charisma– for nearly twice the price. That said, the Flying Spur’s exterior seems distinctly clunky and unresolved in places. The disproportionately large rear lights detract from the overall design harmony, as do the bulbous, asymmetrical rear three-quarter windows. While we’re at it, the chrome side window surrounds don’t match the front and rear’s Darth Vader window treatment. Still, I wouldn’t kick the Spur out of bed for eating crackers.
The Bentley’s cabin quality easily trounces the Mercs, Bimmers, Masers and even Audis of the world, and gives nothing away to the Roller. The Spur’s materials and workmanship– fragrant leather seats and surfaces, burled wood, mechanically dampened “brightwear” (Bentley-speak for switchgear), plush carpeting, etc. — are eerily perfect. (It was almost a relief when the armrest’s aluminum end piece fell off.) The Spur’s ergonomics are also peerless, benefiting from the fact that the donor car– the VW Phaeton– was developed before mouse-driven computer controllers invaded luxury car sancta. Satellite radio, parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity are the only delights missing from the standard luxury car manifest.
Taken as a whole, the Bentley Continental Flying Spur is the world’s best sedan– provided you’re not a member of Greenpeace or a pistonhead who prefers a vehicle with an emotionally engaging personality. Make no mistake: the Continental Flying Spur possesses both an unquenchable appetite for fuel and a detached, Germanic persona. Even so, for the time being, the Flying Spur is as good as it gets.
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- Jeanbaptiste Any variant of “pizza” flavored combos. I only eat these on car trips and they are just my special gut wrenching treat.
- Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
- SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
- MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
- SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.
I think my problem with this car has more to do with the people who buy them and the dealers that sell them. I just don't want to be in that club. In terms of driving experience, Bentley needs to license active body control from someone because it feels like there is too much mass piloting about. No question the interior is awesome, but I question the need to drive fine furniture in these modern times.
What an incredible automobile. It seems the germans have blended the best of traditional british luxury with superior german engineering. I enjoy cars like this. They offer something truly different from the the mainstream. And when someone dishes out the kind of money this car costs, that is exactly what they should get. Great review, Robert. I am new to the site, and have spent the afternoon reading your reviews of Cadillacs. I was beggining to think you hated cars! Now I know it's just cadillacs.