Driving up the street to my house, one thing quickly became very obvious. It was, that driving a Bentley invites more curtain twitching than a Jehovah’s Witness, Department for Work & Pensions investigator and “I’ll tar yer driveway for £200 mister” could ever do, even combined! I actually received a text within 10 minutes of passing one house asking if I’d won the lottery. Aaah if only.
However, thanks to local dealership Bentley Glasgow, operated by the Parks Motoring Group, I’d been provided with the latest model of the Bentley Flying Spur and told to give it a whirl. Well, it’s fair to say I didn’t need to be asked twice before grabbing the keys.
Sitting outside on the forecourt awaiting me was this behemoth of a car. Resplendent in all its glory and shining trim. You couldn’t mistake it as anything other than a Bentley. From the flattened off front end and square grille to those distinctive winged badges, luxury on wheels awaited me.
Volkswagen’s Crewe factory have built a winner with the Flying Spur, and a very credible rival to that other luxury brand, Rolls Royce. These cars, in the now standard four-door model, are just as popular being driven by their owners as opposed to them sitting in the back being driven.
And, like many other similar luxury UK brands, China imports almost 60 per cent of the finished product, with a fair number also heading stateside. Apparently, the soft-riding car suits the far east market perfectly. In comparison with earlier models, this latest car has a suspension set up which is between 13-15 per cent softer than earlier versions. Given the monocoque shell is also around 50kg lighter, it gives the car an overall level of performance which plays well to its largest market.
The car I’d been supplied with was the top-end W12 petrol-engined version, which is fitted with a 6.0 litre, twin-turbocharged power plant providing 616bhp and 590lb ft of torque. Fitted with an eight-speed auto box it can help propel this car from a standing start to 100mph in just over 10 seconds – it’s another contender for a potential licence loser. It’s just so refined in its drive; quiet, comfortable and effortless, take your eyes off the dials for a second and you’re soon touching three-figure speeds.
The moment you set foot in the cabin, you’ll soon experience the ultimate in sumptuous luxury – from the hand-stitched multi-coloured quilted leather seating to the walnut burr finishing or a leather headlining. As with most high-end marques, no expense has been spared. Wi-fi hot spots, a champagne cooler where the flutes (that’s glasses to you and me) – are designed so that the base of the glasses mirror the design of Bentley wheels, TV screens, heated massaging seats, electric rear blinds, I could go on, but I’m fairly certain you’re getting the gist of this.
The Flying Spur is for those looking for uncompromising power combined with equal levels of luxury and comfort.
It handles exceptionally well, despite hitting the scales at a solid 2,972 kg and is a remarkable feat of engineering in itself given the car’s three-ton-plus weight.
So, off I trundled, gently and sedately, and soon realised why so many owners prefer to sit in the back. If I’d had a pin to drop, I’m certain I’d have heard it. Whisper quiet, it felt more like we were floating than driving. Unlike many other cars I’ve driven, this Spur doesn’t shout or scream ‘look at me’. It’s understated elegance personified.
But, with an engine capable of hitting 199mph and a moniker of the fastest luxury sedan in the world, I’d be doing it a disservice not to give it its head at some point. I can say this much, there are few opportunities where any owner will get the full use of the power output, but it’s nice to know it’s there when you need it. This is truly a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’. But be careful with the right foot I told myself, I need a licence for my job!
At speed, and in sports mode, the rear suspension drops ever so slightly providing even better grip, and despite that, it still provides occupants, whether driver or passengers, with a comfortable and refined ride throughout the rev range.
Just as nimble on the M74 as it is on the B7076 or the A72 I gave it a demanding drive over several hours – and it never skipped a beat the entire journey. Remarkable, given we had temperatures down to freezing with the remnants of the earlier days snowfall in the Clyde valley.
The auto box provides the driver with smooth and intelligent change patterns, so much so, that I left it in auto mode for more than half of the test, it was just so intuitive.
There’s very little to gripe about with this car. So, yes, it is easy to hit the paddle shifts when using indicator or wiper stalks, and perhaps it could benefit from a couple of inches extra headroom in the front. The fact that it will return, with average driving, around 17mpg matters not a jot to its marketplace. For those prepared to spend six figures on a car, well frankly, they’re not going to concern themselves with such mundane issues as the running costs.
So when you pop out this weekend to sign on the dotted line, be aware that in three years time, it will have lost around 48 per cent of its original value! I believe, for some, they don’t keep them that long.