2013 BENTLEY FLYING SPUR REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Prestige four-door sedan
Price: $461,315 (driveaway)
Engine/trans: 460kW/800Nm 6.0-litre twin-turbo
Fuel Economy claimed: 14.7 l/100km | tested: 23.4 l/100km
At the same time, the big saloon was given a styling makeover plus an upgrade to its W12 6.0 litre engine.
And the result? Bentley’s Flying Spur became, to all intents and purposes, a stand-alone model.
But where does the Flying Spur really fit in that exclusive model range? Or should you spend another $280k (you do have a money tree, don't you?) and instead pack the Mulsanne into the family domicile?
TMR was invited to spend some quality time behind the wheel to find out.
Quality: There’s no denying, this interior is a very plush place.
From the quality of the hide and trims (not to mention the embroidery), to the wood veneers and the way the air-vents and Breitling clock have been inset, the standard of workmanship is impeccable.
The Mulliner quilting on the seats and door trims are further evidence of how well this car’s been put together.
The hoodlining is a gorgeous perforated leather, there’s perfect knurling on the gear lever (thanks to the Mulliner option) and infotainment dials and the cross-drilled aluminium pedals hint at Bentley’s sporting heritage.
There are a few negatives, however.
The entire steering column (paddles and control stalks) come straight out of a Volkswagen Touareg, and a customer paying over 450-large might expect a little more differentiation.
Also, the rear-seat entertainment screens could have been better integrated, perhaps on an arm-and-hinge arrangement so they could be stowed into the seat backs. Where they are, it simply looks stuck on and detracts from an otherwise well-executed interior.
Thankfully the screens are very high resolution and the sound system is excellent.
Comfort: These seats are not just for highway drives, but for cross-continent stints. Emerging after hours in the saddle, you feel refreshed and ready to go.
With 14-way adjustment for both passenger and driver, there’s nothing lacking up-front for comfort.
Despite the generous legroom, rear passengers may feel that a car of this size would liberate perhaps a touch more.
It is also described as a 'four-plus-one' so don’t expect a middle passenger to be comfortable – there’s a massive transmission tunnel impeding footroom.
The outboard passengers however get a reclining seat as well as heating and cooling. More privacy is just a touch away, with electric blinds for both the rear window and rear-passenger glass.
Equipment: There’s a staggering array of toys on offer.
Standard spec gives you a touchscreen infotainment system with an eight-inch screen, satnav, vehicle settings and options, radio, HDD for music, Bluetooth, DVD/CD/MP3 and an SD card slot.
It controls an eight speaker, eight channel audio system, but critically, it employs balanced mode radiator speakers (BMR), which are able to cover a wider frequency range than normal speakers. Google it, it’s interesting stuff.
Our test car was fitted with the Multimedia Specification, which includes 10-inch screens for rear passengers (note our issue with their integration), wireless headphones, individual USB, HDMI, SD and DVD slots for each screen, plus WiFi from an inserted SIM card. There’s also 64GB of storage space for documents and data.
Back-seat passengers have a touch screen to adjust the climate control, but - there's another feature there - press the eject button beside the screen and an iPod-like remote controller pops out of the wood recess.
This allows them to control seat functions, window blind, to check speed, enter navigation destination and other nifty functions.
It saves having to interrupt your movie on the rear seat screen or to disturb the driver.
Storage: Under the twin-armrests up front there’s a small storage space to place a wallet and keys, and in front of that two cupholders, which would look nicer covered.
The door pockets are long, but not especially deep, while the rear armrest has a small storage space under its leather lid.
What’s quite staggering is that the boot holds only 475 litres. Two covered battery compartments each side chew up a lot of space there. However, while it’s not very wide, it’s extremely long and four sets of golf clubs will fit, no probs.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: While Aston Martin and Ferrari V12s have a very distinct note, Bentley’s W12 configuration sounds nothing like a twelve-cylinder.
On start-up it sounds like a V8 bark and when you stand on the loud pedal a lovely, whirring metallic note comes through the firewall.
It goes however exactly as you'd expect a highly-developed twelve-cylinder to go - very quickly, friend, very quickly. With one turbocharger dedicated to feeding each bank of six-cylinders, it produces a whopping 460kW and a mammoth 800Nm.
With an eight-speed auto feeding power to all four wheels, the Flying Spur reels off a 0-100kmh time of just 4.6 seconds. The thrust from all that torque is like an irresistible rising wave.
The automatic is calibrated to shift up early and often, using the torque to lope along effortlessly.
But be careful on the highway. With peak torque at a low 1700rpm, speed creep can be an issue. After all, it has a top speed of 320kmh.
Overtaking, as you'd expect, is not a task to be feared, rather an opportunity to be relished.
Kick down, let that huge wave of torque gather you up and the Flying Spur simply charges down the road, dispatching kilometres like they’re metres – it’s glorious.
Refinement: After the starter motor breathes life into that massive metal furnace up front, it settles into an idle which is completely silent.
Amazingly, the huge 21-inch wheels don’t induce road-roar; double-paned glass and heavy soundproofing help in this respect.
The eight-speed auto too is brilliant, blending changes smoothly. Yes, this is one very refined vehicle.
Ride and Handling: In Comfort mode, the Flying Spur’s ride is remarkable given the 35-profile tyres. It's a big heavy car though and simple physics dictates a degree of body roll.
But, as you’d expect, Sport mode firms things up more - we'd describe the ride as 'medium-firm', meaning it absorbs bumps without jolting but remains stable and balanced.
IT is absolutely at home on long sweeping country roads.
The steering isn’t quite as fun. At times, under braking and cornering, it loads up unexpectedly and then slackens off. While the weighting is ok for the most part, the 'feel' is distant; perhaps a consequence of being all-wheel-drive.
Braking: Clamping it down is positively massive 405mm front discs and 335mm rear discs. Braking force is enormous and pedal feel is excellent.
Slight fade is only induced after several triple-digit-to-zero runs in quick succession, something that’d be rare in normal driving.
ANCAP rating: The Bentley Flying Spur hasn’t been crash tested by either ANCAP or EuroNCAP programmes.
Safety features: Eight airbags, parking sensors (front and rear), 40:60 front:rear all-wheel-drive system, traction control, stability control, ABS, EBD and brakeforce assist.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres
Service costs: Service intervals are every 15,000km. Each interval is priced independently. Consult your local Bentley dealer for pricing.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Mercedes-Benz S 65 L AMG ($498,345) – With colossal power and expert build, the S-Class is a limousine par excellence. Add AMG’s know-how and it becomes a tempting proposition.
It’s quicker than that Flying Spur, but it’s a lot more German. (see S-Class reviews)
Aston Martin Rapide ($370,800) – A fair whack smaller than the Bentley, and a fair whack slower too. But it’s a lot cheaper and the styling and sound are oh-so-sweet.
It’s still more of a 2-plus-2 than a four seater, but the exterior makes up for it. (see Aston Martin reviews)
Rolls-Royce Ghost ($645,000) – One of the best quality sedans currently rolling around, but it’s a lot more expensive than the Flying Spur.
With more legroom and quieter cabin, the Ghost is brilliant yet a more isolated drive. (see Rolls-Royce reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
A Bentley that embodies value-for-money? An oxymoron, for sure, but one that is definitely apt.
Need superlative luxury and quality? Tick. Want eye-widening grunt? Tick. Able to carry four in comfort? Tick. Plenty of gadgets to keep everyone entertained? Tick.
The Flying Spur also has an element of 'sleeper' about it; there's a weapons-grade powerplant under the bonnet but few will be aware.
If you want more of an old-school feel, then the more expensive Mulsanne is the Bentley for you, but the added room will cost you deep in the purse.
Its flaws are few. You'll find the Flying Spur among the classiest of rides, and one which will make you smile every time 'throttle meets carpet'.