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First UK drive: Bentley Flying Spur. Image by Bentley.

First UK drive: Bentley Flying Spur
Getting to grips with our favourite top-end four-door on the roads of good old Blighty.

 



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Bentley Flying Spur W12

5 5 5 5 5

This is our first chance to drive the majestic Bentley Flying Spur on home soil, following our first drive last year in the South of France (remember those happy times, eh, folks? When we could travel places?), and our opinion hasn't changed: this is the finest sporting saloon at the very luxury end of the market that you can splash your lottery winnings on.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Bentley Flying Spur W12 First Edition Blackline
Pricing: Flying Spur W12 from 168,300, First Edition Blackline as tested 221,520
Engine: 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 petrol
Transmission: all-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: four-door luxury supersaloon
CO2 emissions: 337g/km (VED Band Over 255: 2,135 first 12 months, then 465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 19.1mpg
Top speed: 207mph
0-62mph: 3.8 seconds
Power: 635hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 900Nm at 1,350-4,500rpm
Boot space: 420 litres

What's this?

A wonderful four-door from a prestige British marque. Tested, in contrast to the pictures you can see here, in luscious Verdant green paint with the Blackline specification. Oh, and First Edition spec, too, which basically results in our ideal configuration of the spectacular Bentley Flying Spur W12. We tested this leviathan for the first (and only) time back in late 2019, but now we've got the opportunity to spend a good stretch of time behind the latest Spur's wheel in the UK - to see if its ride and refinement can stand the test of our roads.

On the subject of spec, obviously the Flying Spur looks just as wonderful inside and out on a grey drizzly day in Northamptonshire as it did underneath a blazing Mediterranean sun, so we're not about to back down from our original summation about this being a) the best-looking Flying Spur of the VW era yet seen, b) the best-looking Bentley in the current canon, and c) the best-looking big saloon car of this exalted type. The interior is a masterpiece too, so we'll just focus in on the options fitted here... or maybe we should call them 'personalisation touches'.

First Edition lobs a whopping 37,300 (no, that's not a typo) onto the Spur's near-170,000 asking price and therefore transforms the saloon into a 200,000-plus machine at a stroke. It is a combination of various Bentley bundles of goodness, like the Mulliner Driving Specification, the Mood Lighting Specification and the Touring Specification, as well as First Edition-specific flourishes (embroidered emblems, exterior badging and a fascia badge within) and other delights like an illuminated 'Flying B' raisable mascot atop the radiator grille, a panoramic sunroof, the splendid Bentley Rotating Display and also either deep pile or lambswool mats for the floor wells. Blackline Specification, another 3,550, renders almost all the exterior detailing in black, with 22-inch wheels brought into the fray. And then, for 6,595, you can pop in the Naim by Bentley premium audio system (this thing is tremendous, trust us) and, for another 5,775, the full Rear-Seat Entertainment package. Net result is a car which costs 221,520 but, crucially, feels worth every single penny of that strong money and a few more quid besides. We adore it.

How does it drive?

We also adore the way it drives. Seriously, although the 22-inch ten-spoke alloys, which look beautiful for sure, seemed to transmit ever so slightly more information about the road surface into the opulent, acoustically isolated interior of the Flying Spur as we hammered around the rutted lanes of the Salcey Forest, we'd in no way say that the Bentley's twin-axle air suspension was uncomfortable in the slightest. It still performs a near-magical job of keeping its occupants one step removed from the rigours of the outside world, and when you're simply gliding around at low speeds in the Spur then it can often feel like the car has no physical presence at all, so eerie is the way it seamlessly covers ground.

And then, when you wind the W12 up, you're reminded what a great engine this is. Sure, we've gone on record recently as saying we prefer Bentley's V8 motor but that doesn't mean we think the 6.0-litre behemoth should be avoided at all costs. It's not as vocal as the smaller unit available from the marque, but there's still a pleasing snarl to it as it spools ridiculously quickly around its rev counter. This free-spinning nature is because, despite the significant mass you are asking the W12 to move when you clog the throttle, its leviathan outputs of 635hp and 900Nm have zero difficulties whatsoever with shifting the Flying Spur's stolid frame up the road with positively indecent speed. There's no doubt at all that this is a sub-four-second-to-62, 200mph-plus car. The urgency of it is wonderfully scandalous.

Brilliantly, the Spur feels more agile in the corners than we even remember it to from our first taster of its skills. What with rear-axle steering and a platform that enhances the sportiness of the Bentley without sacrificing any shred of civility, and also with the company's typically excellent steering, there's genuine pleasure and reward in hustling the big W12 along a tighter, more technically involving route. It's also a chassis which will show off its rear bias at will in damp conditions, one exit from a roundabout on the A43 demonstrating that the throttle pedal needs to be treated with care and not like an on/off switch. Yet, thanks to the exceptional steering and the clarity of messages being filtered back to the driver through the steering wheel, catching a mischievous Flying Spur is the easy act of a moment. Not, of course, that Wilkins is likely to be oversteering his or her lord- or ladyship's finest limousine on the public highways, you understand.

Verdict

With our test car in the near-dream specification, the Bentley Flying Spur W12 put in another impeccable performance in the UK and proved that it wasn't just novelty value that, first time around, had us decreeing this as the best luxury sports saloon in the world. But 'near-dream'? How could it possibly be better? Well, send us a V8 Flying Spur please, Bentley, and we'll let you know...

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 28 Oct 2020









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2020 Bentley Flying Spur W12 UK. Image by Bentley.2020 Bentley Flying Spur W12 UK. Image by Bentley.2020 Bentley Flying Spur W12 UK. Image by Bentley.2020 Bentley Flying Spur W12 UK. Image by Bentley.2020 Bentley Flying Spur W12 UK. Image by Bentley.

2020 Bentley Flying Spur W12 UK. Image by Bentley.2020 Bentley Flying Spur W12 UK. Image by Bentley.2020 Bentley Flying Spur W12 UK. Image by Bentley.2020 Bentley Flying Spur W12 UK. Image by Bentley.2020 Bentley Flying Spur W12 UK. Image by Bentley.








 

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