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Road test | Bentley Flying Spur 2022: sublime aerobatics

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In order to fully grasp the essence of Bentley, one must inevitably approach the 8 Liter. The last car designed by founder WO Bentley, this large sedan was launched in the economic turmoil of the early 1930s. It had been designed for a very specific purpose: to cross the European continent in the opulence and speed conferred by its bulk. Fluffy, torque-packed 8L six-cylinder engine. This is where the Flying Spur comes from, an heiress whose vastness of composition is matched only by its finesse.

Design

PHOTO PROVIDED BY BENTLEY

The Bentley Flying Spur V8 is 5.3m in length!

The two ends of the Flying Spur are separated by 5.3m of bodywork, the length of a Lincoln Navigator. Such a stupendous scale can easily turn into the grotesque, but the team of designers led by Stefan Sielaff have injected extraordinary refinement into the harmony of proportions. Obviously, it is the facies, of a measured eccentricity, which leads the visual charge, putting in the foreground a rectangular grille adorned with grid patterns. Circular headlights placed low enough add to the dynamism. The “Flying B”, the brand’s emblematic sculpture, sits above and can even be retracted on command, an option. From a side perspective, this sedan flaunts its monumentality with a reduced front overhang that lets the huge hood fully express itself and a suspended rear portion long enough to accentuate the slenderness. This is precisely reminiscent of the wings turned towards the back of the statuette. The depth and the exceptional quality of the painting embellish these lines and magnetize the eye.

On board

PHOTO PROVIDED BY BENTLEY

The cockpit of the Bentley Flying Spur

The massive door opens to clear the door sill which immediately states that this Flying Spur is assembled by hand at the Crewe factory, the cradle of Bentley since 1946. We sit in this large cabin on furniture including the foam density is no less than perfect for a lesson in artisanal virtuosity. The model tested combined the materials with succulence: the wood veneers adjusted to the nearest millimeter are edged with ultra-fine leathers in various colors crossed by sublime contrasting stitching. The piece de resistance appears at startup, however. The center of the dashboard then uncovers the infotainment screen by rotating a triangular prism. The symmetrical aspect of the whole combined with the use of circular metal nozzles makes resolutely Art Deco in the approach, but above all, we feel a desire to cross eras with a harmony which, a priori, does not should not be as the details are innumerable.

Under the hood

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The V8 engine of the Bentley Flying Spur

The Flying Spur comes in three mechanical variants: V6 plug-in hybrid, V8 and W12. The model tested draws its enthusiasm from a turbocharged 4 L V8, an engine shared with many models of the Volkswagen group. Featuring two turbos placed in the center of the V to reduce spin-up delay, it produces 542 hp in this grind and 568 lb-ft of torque. Sonically more expressive than the twelve-cylinder with a deep, catchy song without drowning the passenger compartment in a deluge of decibels, this mechanism moves the large sedan with great aplomb and smoothness. The eight-speed dual-clutch transmission skilfully guides the engine and can be decoupled when the accelerator is released to save a few drops of fuel. Without being an example in the matter, this Flying Spur consumed around 12 L / 100 km during the test. Acceptable for a vehicle of this size.

Behind the wheel

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The airtight appearance of the passenger compartment is preserved regardless of the speed as soon as the doors are closed.

“A dead silent 100 mph car. These are the words uttered by WO Bentley to make its 8 Liter desirable to its wealthy clientele. Ninety-one years later, this formula is still applied rigorously. The airtight appearance of the passenger compartment is preserved regardless of the speed as soon as the doors are closed. Sitting high enough with a breathtaking view of the slender, sloping hood, the immense sophistication of the air shocks impresses. There is a striking rhythm in the management of the roughness of the surfaces, cradling the occupants without leaning towards an inconvenient softness. There is also a very silky aspect to its handling, from the steering to the operation of the pedals, without neglecting too much agility thanks to its rear steering. When, however, one wishes to put the full load, the all-wheel drive system intervenes and this heavy object of 2300 kg leaps with urgency. 0-100 km / h is achieved in just 4.1 s.

Embedded technologies

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The Bentley Flying Spur infotainment system

A product from the luxury sector of the Volkswagen group, the Flying Spur is equipped with an Audi-based infotainment system. Bentley however reformed the presentation and added some features to ensure its exclusivity. The result is a responsive touchscreen with excellent resolution. The menus are elegant and well laid out. It is coupled with a second instrumentation screen which is also very readable, but not as configurable as we would have liked. The stability of the system when Apple CarPlay is in use, however, was not flawless during the test drive. The manufacturer has also chosen to focus on the physical buttons for the various usual controls concentrated around the gear lever: an approach that we appreciate, but the glossy black that covers them is soiled instantly. In terms of sound, the 2200 W Naim system with 19 speakers emits a crystal-clear sound with extreme precision in frequency management.

The verdict

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One can only be fascinated and charmed by the majestic character of this car.

Spreading a starting invoice that exceeds $ 256,000 in V8 livery, this Flying Spur is obviously reserved for wealthy customers and can not at any time be considered a reasonable purchase. But, excluding this necessary observation, one can only be fascinated and charmed by the majestic character of the object. The grandiose visual staging of this sedan is also supported by a desire for durability in the artistic sensibility of its interior. A tribute to a time when we took the time to promote artisanal automotive know-how, it envelops us in an inimitable sumptuousness. Its temperament on the road fits perfectly with this idea, combining comfort and great stability, giving an impression of extraordinary resilience. It’s a bit like the 8 Liter knew how to do it so well in its time. However, one cannot help imagining this car equipped with an electric motor. From then on, silence will really reign.

Notebook

“Turn on a 10 cents”

Thanks to its active rear steering which can steer the wheels in the opposite direction of the front wheels, the Flying Spur has a turning radius of just 11.46 m, comparable to that of a Honda Civic.

Oversized braking

Despite the widespread use of aluminum in its construction, this Flying Spur V8 weighs 2330 kg. To slow down this immense mass, highly efficient ten piston calipers up front and four pistons at the rear are responsible for the task by means of a pedal that is a little too sensitive.

Infinitely customizable

By purchasing a Flying Spur, you also get the right to personalize it with countless combinations of colors and materials. For example, the tested version can be embellished with 12 molding compositions, ranging from wood veneer to engineered aluminum to carbon fiber.

Help from Porsche

This Flying Spur is based on the modular MSB platform developed by Porsche for its Panamera, which explains its balanced behavior.

Sisters for decades

The uninitiated often tend to confuse Rolls-Royce and Bentley, despite their respective belonging to BMW and the Volkswagen Group. This is no coincidence, because Rolls-Royce bought Bentley in 1931. The two brands then cohabited from 1980 to 1998 under the aegis of the same owner.

Technical sheet

  • Model under test: Bentley Flying Spur V8 2022
  • Engine: 4L twin-turbo DOHC V8
  • Power: 542 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque: 568 lb-ft @ 2,000-4,500 rpm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual mode
  • Engine architecture: Front longitudinal engine, all-wheel drive
  • Consumption (EnerGuide): 13.7 L / 100 km
  • Price (with options, transport and preparation): $ 351,563 (starting price of $ 256,073)
  • Competitors: Mercedes-Maybach S-Class and Rolls-Royce Ghost
  • Anything new in 2022? : No major change

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