The 2019 Bentley Flying Spur: Don’t Let The Chauffeur Have All The Fun
by Martin Green
If you are in the market for a large, luxury sedan, there are the obvious choices: Audi’s A8 or, of course, the benchmark in this category, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
These are all very capable machines that leave very little to desire, and when ordered in a more subtle color can even get you around with some discretion. That leaves a question, though: if such incredible, every-wish-fulfilling cars exist, why would you buy Bentley’s new Flying Spur?
The answer is quite simple: because it is a Bentley.
Even the new Flying Spur is in many ways not so different to the large German sedans mentioned earlier. In fact, compared to them the Bentley is perhaps even a bit more conservative in the applied technology, options, additional buttons, and touchscreens you can choose from.
That’s done on purpose because when you drive a Bentley, you don’t need it to impress your peers or to distract you when you are behind the wheel yourself.
That has always been what makes Bentley stand out, in particular at the time when the carmaker was still joined with Rolls-Royce under one roof: the fact that owners enjoy not only the comfort of the backseat but also quite a bit of excitement in driving themselves.
Not in the way that, for example, a Porsche Panamera is exciting but more in a classic British sense. For decades, Bentleys have been somewhat like the Orient Express for the road: a large, bulky car with an interior made of luxurious leathers and exotic woods and an engine more than powerful enough to propel it forward with a speed one would not expect.
That is the reason one buys a Bentley.
It is all about being “powerfully pampered,” and in that sense, the new Flying Spur is even better than its predecessors.
That power is delivered by a 6.0-liter W12 with two turbos attached to it. The fact that it provides 626 hp under your right foot is not nearly as important as the fact that it offers 900 Nm in torque.
The immense power means that you not only effortlessly “float” forward when the traffic light changes, but also that you can give that 911 next to you a run for its money; the Flying Spur goes from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in a mind-boggling 3.8 seconds.
It is even unlikely that the 911 – or many other very capable sports cars, for that matter – beat you at top speed because the Bentley doesn’t stop accelerating until it reaches 333 km/h.
Would many Flying Spur owners do this? Probably not. Or at least not often.
As a luxury GT with four doors a Flying Spur owner might not be challenging other cars to a traffic light drag race, but taking on the Alps becomes a very exhilarating prospect.
The power on tap also makes the Flying Spur quite versatile, if there is such a thing with a Bentley. You can travel through the city in style, make long treks in comfort, and have an incredible amount of fun on roads that are normally not meant to be so much fun for such a large sedan.
Keeping up with the Joneses (then blowing them away)
The fact that Bentley can offer this experience with the new Flying Spur is because it benefits from a few technical improvements. Where the previous generation offered a permanent all-wheel drive with 60 percent of the power going through the rear axle and 40 percent through the front, the new one delivers 100 percent through the rear axle and only changes that when road conditions or detected wheel slip trigger the system to do so.
As a result, the Flying Spur’s understeer tendencies have been dramatically reduced. Bentley combines this for the very first time with electronic all-wheel steering, which provides the feeling that the new Flying Spur is much smaller than its predecessor while it is, in fact, 130 mm longer.
Another main advantage includes the new aluminum-and-composite chassis as well as the use of aluminum and high-strength steel in the bodywork resulting in a very rigid car, which also aids in making it such a pleasure to drive.
The final new improvement encompasses the three-chamber air springs combined with Bentley’s Dynamic Ride, which allows you to choose a very comfortable setting but can also tighten up and turn the Flying Spur into an almost ferocious sports limousine.
Looks matter . . . still . . . or perhaps even more?
The lines of the Flying Spur are gorgeous, highlighting what makes a Bentley special. Being big and bulky, it also has an elegance to it. Surprisingly, the back reminds me a bit of the fourth-generation BMW 7 Series designed by Chris Bangle, which was famous for the pronounced shape of its trunk.
I liked it on the 7 Series, and I think that Bentley does it even better on the Flying Spur, especially since it is flanked by flaring hips that make the car’s dynamics even more pronounced.
This interior might be the best one Bentley has ever made. Yes, there are more technical gizmos and even a touch screen here and there, but Bentley knows better than to install a couple of large iPads, which seems to be every brand’s go-to in a new model.
The wood veneer is worked and applied in a more refined way, every detail more thought through, and even the leather feels softer than ever before. My favorite feature is in the middle of the dashboard, right next to the instrument cluster: this dash section can rotate like the license plate on James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, allowing the driver to choose whether it is a large touch screen, three analog dials showing the time, outside temperature and a compass, or a lavish wood veneer that are on display.
The biggest compliment one can give the new Flying Spur is that Bentley created a bona fide limousine that you will want to drive yourself. It combines luxury and comfort with an agility that is rare for a car of this size.
And despite the more technically advanced large sedans available, this does make the Bentley best in class!
For more information, please visit www.bentleymotors.com/en/models/new-flying-spur.
Quick Facts 2019 Bentley Flying Spur
Engine: 5950 cc twin-turbocharged W12
Power: 626 bhp
Torque: 900 Nm torque, rear-wheel drive
Transmission: 8-speed dual clutch automatic with manual shifting mode, top-speed reached in 6th gear, 7th and 8th gear for GT high-speed experience and better fuel economy
Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds
Top speed: 333 km/h
Base price: TBD