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Car Review

Bentley Flying Spur review

£160,200 - £241,480
910
Published: 12 Apr 2023
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Welcome to the driver’s seat. It’s a lot like the Continental GT in here, with enveloping seats, a commanding driving position, better forward visibility than you were anticipating, and little (if any) sense that there’s an enormous amount of car both in front and behind you. The nose drops away, making it tricky to tell if your Flying B motif is raised or lowered – a new feature. But hardly core to the driving experience.

Let’s start with the retiring great. Until now, we’ve always recommended the smaller V8 as the best driving Spur. But with the 12-cylinder soon to depart, perhaps some newly sombre context nudges it up in our affections. W12 power leaves the range via the Flying Spur Speed, an assured-looking special with that headline 207mph maximum and more of a focus on modern metals than traditional woods in its interior. All Bentleys, of course, being near-endlessly configurable to your own taste (or lack thereof).

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This isn’t an extroverted performance car engine, and its most impressive tricks come from its smooth, near-silent nature in most driving scenarios. But leave a junction with a bit of gusto and it makes a truly intoxicating snarl, a noise brim with assertion but without any of the boisterous pops and bangs of rivals (or, indeed, a V8 Bentley with a sports exhaust…).

That V8 does remain the sportier engine in this range, though, and perhaps the best middle ground if you want a Flying Spur feeling its fittest. The V6 Hybrid possesses the same power and force, but not the manners. Where the V8 woofles and rumbles, the V6 really sounds like it’s having to work hard once it fires into life. And in a Bentley that should never be apparent. It’s a worthy, necessary addition to the range – an interesting step on Bentley’s journey to full electrification – but it’s by no means a class-leading system.

Does it behave well around town?

All versions do. The twin-clutch gearbox selects gears discreetly, the whole drivetrain easily managed with only the throttle pedal. If you choose to pick up the pace you’re better off putting it in Sport mode or investigating the tactile metal paddles. In its Comfort or Bentley modes it’s just a bit sleepy, often three gears too high coming into a corner if you’re hoping to actually hustle the thing.

One option is to pop the lever into manual mode and have a crack with the paddles yourself. Third or fourth are good for just about every corner, and the prodigious spread of torque but low redlines making second only suitable for really tight hairpins. But in truth the car is smoother and feels smarter with the gearbox in its S setting and your very occasional (and temporary) meddling with the paddles. Even as a driver’s Bentley, there’s a sense you should take the metaphorical back seat in some areas...

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Even when driven with vigour?

Indeed. Throttle response doesn’t match its gnarlier rivals; you come to learn there’s a few millimetres of dead travel, perhaps the car making absolutely sure you wish to disturb the on-board serenity with some burly acceleration (of which there’s plenty in all versions).

The rest of the Flying Spur’s driving experience is downright impressive and the 48-volt electrics are the making of it. The active anti-roll technology works more naturally here than in any other car we’ve tried it in – permitting soft springs without the penalty of excessive body roll – and combined with the four-wheel steering it helps the car feel lighter, more agile and more manageable than anything nudging 2,500kg has any right to.

Can you treat it like a sports car?

Accelerate through a corner and you don’t get terminal understeer, but instead all four wheels working hard. Sport mode is especially rear-biased in its power delivery, with the fronts only getting 31 per cent of available torque. And unless the system detects slip, it’s fully rear-driven.

Crucially, the differences between its driving modes are marked. Of course it’s whisper-quiet inside. Of course the ambience lifts it above any German marque. You expect all that from a big Bentley saloon. But what sets this one apart is its bandwidth: the fact that with a twist of a knob it can behave like either a limousine or sports saloon.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Bentley Flying Spur 6.0 W12 Mulliner 4DR Auto [CITY SPEC] [4 SEAT]
  • 0-623.8s
  • CO2
  • BHP635
  • MPG
  • Price£235,000

the cheapest

Bentley Flying Spur 4.0 V8 4dr Auto [4 Seat]
  • 0-624.1s
  • CO2
  • BHP550
  • MPG
  • Price£163,525

the greenest

Bentley Flying Spur 4.0 V8 First Edition 4dr Auto
  • 0-624.1s
  • CO2270.0g/km
  • BHP550
  • MPG24.4
  • Price£199,400

Variants We Have Tested

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