Should we be surprised, though?
Bentley is a brand that has, traditionally, appealed more to the person behind the wheel rather than the person behind the person behind the wheel. But with the exception of the Continental GT, the cars from Crewe have increasingly skewed away from driving thrills, owing to the majority of buyers of four-door models using them as chauffeur cars.
But the marque promises that this, the all-new Flying Spur, is a return to form. They’ve thrown absolutely all the driver-focused tech they can throw at it (thanks to that platform that they share with, among others, the Porsche Panamera), while maintaining the quilted-leather-barge appeal with a concession towards unruffled high-speed travel.
It’s also what Bentley reckons is a fabulous birthday present – the marque will celebrate is centenary this year.
“As with the launch of the Continental GT, the new Flying Spur is a ground-up development that pushes the boundaries of both technology and craftsmanship to deliver segment-defining levels of performance and refinement.” – Adrian Hallmark, Chairman & Chief Executive, Bentley Motors
Let’s start where interest may be most focused – the engine. A 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 mill, it produces a ridiculous 467kW and 900Nm (!), which means that the nearly 2.5-tonne behemoth can hit 100km/h in just 3.8-seconds, before hitting a top-speed of 207mph (333km/h). The all-wheel drive system ensures that the tyres aren’t (immediately) shredded into oblivion, but the adaptive system will send all the power to the rear by default; Even when things get hairy, Bentley has capped the maximum drive to the front wheels at just 31%. It’s certainly trying to appeal to drivers, this Bentley.
‘Stiff’ or ‘taut’ are not words you’d think would apply to a limousine measuring in at 5.3m in length, but Bentley says this car is the “stiffest in class.” We’re sure that factoid got about 70% of the British aristocracy hot under the collar, none of which are able to purchase a Bentley anymore.
But before you start getting concerned thinking that the new Flying Spur will shake your teeth out, fear not. There’s a new three-chamber air suspension system that, in addition to allowing the ride to be adjusted properly should you call upon a sportier driving mode, can also deliver an entirely unperturbed driving experience.
Comfort wasn’t entirely ignored with the new-generation Flying Spur, with all-new seats featuring the usual array of heating, ventilation and massaging, a glass roof, and a wheelbase that’s been elongated by 130mm. And the rest of the interior os just ridiculously pretty (if not imaginative, as it’s been lifted almost wholesale from the Continental GT), with plenty of trim & upholstery options to personalise your Bentley (and simultaneously drain your wallet). And the dashboard is dominated by the three-face central display with its enormous widescreen on one facet, three analogue dials on the other, and just chrome & veneer on the third (which Bentley calls the “digital detoxification” mode).
But to us, the exterior aesthetics is what needs to be addressed. Crewe has made quite the effort to talk about the more pronounced, athletic lines of the new Flying Spur but to us, the large vertically-slatted grille and Flying-B bonnet ornament (replete with crystal inlay and backlighting), all of which is underlined by a copious helping of chrome, just seems a bit tasteless. We know why it is though – you know where Bentley’s biggest market is? That’s right, the People’s Republic of China.