Duality of purpose. That’s what Bentley wants to stress about the new Flying Spur, and four-wheel steering is the perfect flag-carrier for its overall ability. Best of all, it mixes super-luxury with high performance.
Trouble is, practically everyone in the expensive-car game makes claims about delivering performance with luxury. There’s a danger of Bentley’s claims being lost in a melee of high-sounding verbiage – until you spend time in the new Flying Spur and establish beyond doubt that this mighty all-British sedan can accelerate like a Macca and ride like a Rolls.
Its revised 5950cc W12 – now an amazingly efficient 467kW and 14.8L/100km courtesy of different high- and low-speed induction systems and cylinder deactivation – propels the car to 333km/h and delivers incredible 0-100 acceleration of 3.7sec.
With an aluminium-intense structure, it weighs 2437kg, respectable for a 5.3m limo, and major elements, like the rear suspension, have a close relationship with Porsche’s Panamera.
It’s a handsome beast. More haunchy than the outgoing car and with better-defined muscles to match its extra performance, it rolls on 21- or 22-inch wheels and has carefully designed details. There’s even a new, retracting ‘Flying B’ bonnet motif, perhaps to sharpen the rivalry with Rolls-Royce.
The interior is the best expression yet of Bentley’s love of luxury, especially in the rear, with a touchscreen remote to control blinds, climate, seat massage functions and lighting.
It glides along in near-silence with its air springs and cornering roll is nearly eliminated by a 48-volt system that uses tiny electric motors to adjust the anti-roll bars. Glide and the car glides. Throw the car around and it does its best to smooth your path.
The 4WS provides sharp low-speed steering, a terrific turning circle and extra stability. The rim effort and accuracy is close to perfect.
Performance is stupendous. Floor the throttle and the car erupts off the mark, its intelligent all-wheel drive distributing torque mostly rearward, but keeping enough for the front to negate untidy wheelspin. In Sport mode the car is induced by its on-board electronics (which also control transmission behaviour, steering effort and ride) to behave like a rear-drive car.
‘Bentley’ mode charts a near perfect course between the stiffness of Sport and slightly too much bounce in Comfort. You can create your own Custom setting, but few will bother.
Of course, the Spur is superbly comfortable, but it also has power and precision. And you keep being surprised by how well it fits into gaps and negotiates tight corners. But mostly your journey just slips quietly, enjoyably away. Is there another luxury sedan that does this stuff better?
BENTLEY FLYING SPUR SPECS
Engine: 5950cc W12, DOHC, 48v, twin-turbo
Power: 467kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 900Nm @ 1350-4500rpm
0-100km/h: 3.7sec (claimed)
Price: $460,000 (est)
Likes: Comfort; luxury; looks; four-wheel steering; mighty performance; all-wheel drive; robust quality; design quality;
Dislikes: Too much money
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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