The 2017 Bentley Flying Spur delivers opulence matched by few luxury sedans, with a handcrafted cabin and smooth, willing power from either its V-8 or W-12 engines.
The Bentley Flying Spur is a potent symbol of status and wealth. Even $100,000 luxosedans seem a pale imitation of the Spur's quiet opulence. Offered in V8, V8 S, W12, and the new W12 S models, the Flying Spur has as much hand-finished wood and hand-stitched leather as any vehicle on the planet—a perfect companion to its stately presence. Drive one, and it's obvious that you've arrived.
We give the Bentley Flying Spur a 7.2 out of 10 for its blend of elegant design, interior luxury, and tremendous power. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Bentley used to badge the Flying Spur as a Continental, but in 2014 Bentley split its lineup, making the coupes and convertibles Continentals and the sedan the Flying Spur.
Compared to the Continental, the grille stands more upright, and the Spur transitions from front to back into a more crisply tailored look: the fenders flare more, the roof pillars are more angular, and the taillights are squared off. The overall design is pared down of extraneous details. For example, the oval LED headlights have no surrounds and they are larger outboard than inboard, which is the opposite of the Conti GT. Bentley distinguishes between the 8- and 12-cylinder versions with some small differences: V-8 cars have red-backed badges, a black-finished grille, and a figure-eight exhaust tip, while the W-12 cars have oval exhaust finishers, a chromed grille, and black-background badging.
The ride and handling are tuned for a wide range of behavior thanks in part to standard adaptive dampers can alter the ride and roll stiffness. It is more plush on one end, more firm and responsive on the other. That's important because the Flying Spur needs to appeal to buyers in China, America, Russia, and Britain, among other markets.
Light, natural steering feel complements the early-warning traction signals built into the grippy Pirelli P-Zero tires. The Spur's more than willing to dive into tight corners, and setting its adaptive dampers to Sport gives it the lateral confidence to back up its promise, though it's less compliant when the road unkinks. The V-8 model is a bit more nimble, the consequence of having 300 pounds less sitting on its nose.
Two powertrains are offered, each in two states of tune. It starts with the Audi-sourced, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 with cylinder deactivation. It pushes out 500 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque, good for a 0 to 60 mph time quoted at 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 183 mph. In the V8 S, the 4.0 makes 521 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque, cutting the 0 to 60 mph time to 4.6 seconds and raising the top speed to 190 mph.
Executives say the 6.0-liter W-12 is the brand's hallmark. Output in the W12 model is 616 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. The new W12 S puts out 626 hp and 605 lb-ft of torque. Both versions are coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive with a variable torque split set at 40/60 is standard, but Bentley says it is capable of shifting to 65 percent front or 85 percent rear as traction needs arise. Bentley quotes a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.3 seconds and an astonishing top speed of 200 mph for the W12 model; for the W12 S, those numbers are 4.2 seconds and 202 mph—all for a car that weighs almost 5,500 pounds. It reels off whiplashes of power, controlled deftly by a paddle-shifted transmission that merits wheel-mounted, heavy-gauge paddles—not the flimsy ones it's given.
The Flying Spur's interior remains a luxury paradigm: it's functionally fit, fabulously finished, and bespoke to a certain degree in its palette of trim and color choices. Quiet and tastefully rendered, the Flying Spur's cabin is filled with muted details, and studded with "B" logos. It's as much a cozy library of timeless car lines and finishes as it is a housing for Bentley's state-of-the-art infotainment technology.
A suite of infotainment services is matched to the Bentley's mission in life and to the executive levels of charm found inside. The large LCD screen can be controlled by front-seat passengers, as well as by back-seat passengers via remote control. The remote also governs the twin 10-inch flat screens embedded in the front-seat headrests, offering rear-seat passengers entertainment and in-car internet and wireless connectivity.
Numerous interior leather colors, stitching colors, and wood trims are offered—a palette that runs from sober grey to magnificent damson. A Mulliner Driving Specification adds the best flourishes: diamond-quilted seats, drilled alloy foot pedals, a knurled sports shift lever, jeweled filler cap, and 20- or 21-inch two-piece alloy wheels. An optional Naim 1,100-watt audio system is available. The cabin can be trimmed out as a four-seater with 14-way power adjustment and memory, heating and ventilation at all seating positions, or with a &"plus-one&" middle seat without those added controls.
V-8 models can be trimmed with a Beluga specification that adds unique touches, inside and out. Piano black trim, knurled shift paddles, contrast stitching, and deeply piled carpet inside await Beluga buyers on the inside, while 20-inch black wheels, body-colored lower grille bar, and a gloss black radiator pronounce the owner's arrival from the outside.
The V-8 models start at around $200,000, while W-12 models add $20,000 more to the bottom line—and that's before the $2,725 charge and the $2,600 gas-guzzler tax are figured in.
And the guzzler tax is fair: the V-8 manages only 14 mpg city, 24 highway, 17 combined, while the W-12 slumps further: 12/20/15 mpg.