Bentley Flying Spur 6.0-litre
Handsome Flying Spur looks quite different to outgoing model
- Sumptuous and well-designed cabin
- Massive, effortless performance
- Big improvement in ride comfort
- Clever rear remote control
- Exterior design might not be to all tastes
- Strong image slightly dented by celebrity popularity
- Expensive to buy and to run
- Mulsanne is more expensive but offers greater bespoke feel
Bentley has a long tradition of fine luxurious saloons - in fact the range isn't complete without one - and although the Mulsanne sits comfortably at the super-luxury end of the scale there is a place for something slightly more affordable. Now Bentley have introduced a second generation Flying Spur to cater for customers who find the Mulsanne a bit too expensive.
Bentley says the differences are more significant than before so that the 'Continental' tag has been dropped for this second-generation Flying Spur. Regardless of the subtle name change the Flying Spur sits alongside the Continental GT coupe but offers a more comfortable and spacious choice for those who want it.
Visually this is much more than just a four-door Continental GT, and there are significant details to distinguish the two. At the front there is a clear family link but the Flying Spur has its own grille and headlamp arrangement to distinguish it, whilst at the rear there is a unique design with its own taillights.
Mechanically the Flying Spur shares much of its layout with the Continental GT. Under the long bonnet lies a 616bhp version of the sumptuous twin turbocharged W12 engine. This is mated to the new eight-speed automatic transmission already seen on other Bentley models, while the power is fed to all four wheels to give maximum traction and stability.
The Flying Spur is also markedly biased towards comfort to a greater degree than other models in the range. Unlike the Continental GT coupe where the owner is expected to most of the driving, the Flying Spur owner will spend some time behind the wheel but most likely be in the back seat. To that end there is a novel wireless touch screen device in the rear, while the suspension is considerably softer than the outgoing version.
Our verdict on the Bentley Flying Spur 6.0-litre
A sensible and thorough refresh of the Flying Spur has added performance, increased refinement and luxury plus a welcome improvement to the design. It remains a hugely impressive machine capable of remarkable speed without sacrificing comfort. It's not a cheap car but it has a exceptionally broad range of abilities.
Although a weight reduction over the outgoing car and the new gearbox has helped to reduce fuel consumption the Flying Spur remains an expensive car to run. Fuel consumption is high, insurance will be at the highest level and servicing costs will also be high.
Space and practicality
As spacious a car as you're likely to find, the Flying Spur offers almost excessive levels of head and legroom for driver and passengers. Seating is restricted to four if opting for the full-length rear console, if not specified then the central rear passenger's legs will straddle the transmission tunnel.
Controls and display
Although the Flying Spur borrows significantly from the Continental GT it is none the worse for that. The instruments and layout are simple, clear and attractive and they work very well. A further bonus is the wireless touchscreen rear remote, which works much like a mobile phone. It allows anyone to control numerous functions throughout the car, even to view the speedometer or trip meter. It's a clever ideal and is very well executed.
The Flying Spur offers exceptional levels of comfort, as well as being significantly better than the outgoing model. Noise levels are claimed to have been reduced by up to 40%, while the suspension is softer than before as well as offering a wider range between the adjustable settings. In short it is one of the most comfortable cars money can buy.
A full alarm and immobiliser system featuring exterior and interior monitoring and a tilt alarm is fitted as standard, as are keyless entry and start. A tracking system can be specified for extra reassurance.
The Flying Spur's size and part-aluminium and steel structure makes it possibly one of the safest cars on the road. It also has the full complement of safety systems, while the engine and braking power ensures it can keep out of trouble whenever possible.
There's a great deal to enjoy about the Flying Spur driving experience. The vast torque of the W12 engine makes cruising a delight, and yet a gentle squeeze is all that's required to make rapid progress. The suspension allows the driver to change the settings to suit the conditions, whether that's comfortable or sporty and the response is impressive too. The brakes are more than strong enough to cope too.
Family car appeal
There's enough space for a full sized family although the average owner might not want the typical sticky-fingered child to get their hands all over the high quality hides and woods. The boot is also sufficiently vast to swallow all the assorted junk that comes with small children.
First car appeal
Although it's easy to drive the Flying Spur is neither suitable nor priced to suit new drivers.
Quality and image
The quality is never in question, with near faultless manufacturing and a solid, weighty feel to the whole affair. The Bentley image is one with much appeal, but the Flying Spur is a less obvious car than some. Some drivers may appreciate the less showy nature of the car, but others might want something with more visual presence for the money.
With big doors front and rear nothing less than easy access to all the seats would do for wealthy customers. There's soft automatic closing on all doors too so there's never any need to reach for the door handle twice. The same goes for the vast boot which can be opened at the touch of a button.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
There are a stack of options here including a very high specification Naim audio system for the highest sound quality. On the flip side the sat-nav system still has relatively basic graphics, leaving it behind much less expensive cars.
Colours and trim
With a host of exterior and interior colour options available the Flying Spur can be made as tasteful or as vulgar as the owner wishes, while the understated exterior means it's better suited to more subtle colours. Inside, the leather trimmed interiors with chrome effects are neatly crafted with excellent materials throughout.
A reversing camera, good turning circle and impressive visibility makes the Continental relatively simple to manoeuvre when parking, however, its much larger than average size means it can be difficult to find spaces that will accommodate its girth, and the excess often spills into car park gangways.
Tyre sealant repair kit or optional space-saver spare.
Petrol engine options - 6.0-litre (616bhp). Transmission options: eight-speed automatic gearbox with sequential manual mode and column mounted paddle shift, permanent all-wheel drive. Trim levels: Flying Spur, Flying Spur Mulliner.
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