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First drive: Bentley Flying Spur V8. Image by Bentley.

First drive: Bentley Flying Spur V8
The difference between a V8 and W12 Flying Spur is less clear-cut than in other Bentleys, but the fact remains: this is a stunning luxury saloon, all ends up.


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Bentley Flying Spur V8

5 5 5 5 5

Bentley follows recent procedure in its other two model lines and adds a V8 engine to the majestic Flying Spur saloon. But while we think the V8 is the go-to choice in both the Continental and Bentayga vehicles, we're not so sure the smaller engine makes a huge difference to the way the Spur drives. That said, it certainly doesn't diminish this glittering automotive gem either, so what you have here is an utterly brilliant four-door saloon, through and through.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Bentley Flying Spur V8
Pricing: Flying Spur V8 from 153,900, car as tested 195,910
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: permanent all-wheel drive with torque-sensing centre differential, eight-speed ZF dual-clutch transmission
Body style: four-door prestige supersaloon
CO2 emissions: c.290g/km (VED Band Over 255: 2,175 first 12 months, then 475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: c.22.2mpg
Top speed: 198mph
0-62mph: 4.1 seconds
Power: 550hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 770Nm at 2,000-4,500rpm
Boot space: 420 litres

What's this?

A Bentley Flying Spur V8, which has a particularly poignant place in this writer's heart because - due to a spectacularly fortuitous piece of timing - I had a second-generation Spur V8 on test the week my son was born. So the first car he ever travelled in was the big Bentley four-door, the jammy little... I mean, the wonderful lad that he is. However, you're not going to buy the latest Spur V8 on the basis of whether or not it was a good vehicle in which to ferry a newborn back from Nottingham City Hospital (NB: it was), but more due to how it may or may not improve the Flying Spur package, currently only found as a W12 6.0-litre. Oh, and we're going back to the 'royal we' for the rest of this review; look, we've already made the transition.

Moving on. The Flying Spur V8 model follows Bentley's usual discreet themes, so spotting this is the 'lesser' (that's an extremely relative term in this instance) Spur requires you to glance at the exhausts, which look like little figure eights lying on their sides, or to spot the discreet 'V8' logos sited low down on the front wings, just aft of the wheels. It's otherwise privy to all the options and features of the W12, and it looks just as downright magnificent as the W12 too. This counts both on the outside and within, where the Spur's fabulous cabin blows you away. It's stunning to look at, it's cosseting to the fingertips, everything is laid-out intuitively and works perfectly, there's masses of space in the second row, and it's full of splendid touches like the hefty rear-seat entertainment controller, which pops out like a tablet if you want it to.

However, we should point out that our 153,900 Flying Spur V8 had 42,010 of options packages to turn it into a 195,910 Flying Spur V8 instead. This is not unusual additional expenditure for high-end machines and it's certainly not unusual for a Bentley to be so specified, but for the purposes of clarity the extras were: the 14,545 Mulliner Driving Specification (MDS), which adds 22-inch alloys, diamond quilting on the seats, 3D leather on the door panels, a leather headliner, sports pedals, embroidered Bentley emblems in the cabin, and special finishes for the fuel filler and oil caps; the 3,585 Blackline Specification, which clothes all of the exterior detailing in high-gloss black, including the winged 'B' retractable mascot at the Spur's prow and the tailpipes too; the 6,415 Touring Specification, incorporating a lot of driver-assist systems such as Lane Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Bentley Safeguard Plus, Night Vision and a Head-Up Display; the 1,925 Mood Lighting Spec, which equips ambient mood lighting in the cabin and also matching illumination for the treadplates in the door sills; the 4,060 City Specification, comprising yet more ADAS software like City Assist, Pedestrian Warning, Reversing Traffic Warning and Traffic Sign Recognition, plus auto-dimming exterior mirrors, a hands-free boot opening function and a 360-degree Top-View Camera; and then the 6,660 Naim for Bentley premium audio set-up (this is terrific, you need to order it); and the superb but 4,820 Bentley Rotating Display for the dashboard (you also need this, it's one of the single greatest features of any car interior, anywhere). Phew! Anyway, some of these obviously go a long way to bolstering the already-special cabin ambience of the Flying Spur, and it's clear to see that most owners are likely to be driving circa-200,000 V8 models, rather than ones that are 154,000. Nevertheless, inside and out, and regardless of how much folding you fling the way of the marque, the Flying Spur V8 is pretty much flawless.

How does it drive?

All the usual attributes of a V8 Bentley are present, which would seem to make it the obvious choice over and above its twelve-cylinder sibling. So, in detail, the Flying Spur V8 is 100kg lighter than the W12, all of that weight reduction coming at the nose of the vehicle. At 2,337kg, the V8 derivative is hardly some sort of superleggera in sedan form, but it promises to deliver slightly sharper handling than the 6.0-litre bruiser. It should also go further on a tank of Super Unleaded, its 4.0-litre V8 drinking marginally less fuel and offering cylinder deactivation to run as a four under light loads so that a 90-litre brimming ought to deliver around 440 miles of cruising range, if you're gentle with it. Moreover, it's 14,400 less expensive (a Bentley can never be described as 'cheap(er)', thank you) than the 6.0-litre Spur and we all know a V8 is sonically more interesting than the W12. So, job done for the V8, then. Right?

Everything also looks highly promising once you get the 4.0-litre Spur on the move, because it drives as astonishingly well as you might imagine. For a gigantic 5.3-metre-long contrivance like this, the Bentley doesn't half disguise its mass on the move. You can add 48-volt-powered active anti-roll bars under the Bentley Dynamic Ride moniker, as well as Electronic All-Wheel Steering for greater agility, but the Spur V8 doesn't truly need them. It has beautiful poise, masses of grip, stupendous traction in all conditions and one of the all-time-great V8-and-DCT drivetrain combinations. Drive in a wholly inappropriate way for a Bentley and, if you get the chassis fully loaded up, you can sense that the rear of the car is going to break away first, not the front of it - so it's rewarding and enjoyable, with genuine handling balance rather than it being all-grip point-and-shoot bludgeoning tactics.

We must also give praise, once again, to the engineers at Bentley and their undoubted prowess with mode settings. Through Comfort, Bentley and Sport, you can discern real differences to all of the ride comfort, the throttle response and the steering weighting/feel, with all of these modes useable on the roads; as in, Sport doesn't make the Flying Spur V8 an uncomfortable mess and the sumptuous Comfort still allows indecent progress across the ground if the mood so takes you. Also, Bentley's steering is chef's kiss, as we think the kids say these days. Few companies nail feedback, consistency of response and weighting at the wheel like the Crewe mob, especially on overtly luxury vehicles like this.

Furthermore, the Flying Spur V8 is spectacularly refined, the medium- and high-speed ride comfort in general being exemplary, the V8 engine dying away to a mere background murmur on a trailing throttle, and the sheer mass and opulence of the Flying Spur's construction ensuring that you hear precisely nothing of tyre roar nor wind noise when the big Bentley is motoring along at motorway pace. Talking of which, a cross-country thrash in the Spur V8 to test its dynamic mettle saw its economy, somewhat understandably, hovering in low double figures. Ahem. However, a reset of the trip computer and then a steady motorway run conducted in rich, silken near-silence saw the Bentley give back a remarkable 28.6mpg. We've had hot hatches which struggle to match that on the motorway and this is a 2.3-tonne petrol V8 twin-turbo with a form that doesn't major on aerodynamics, remember. All told, the smaller-engined Flying Spur is a magnificent machine.

So why aren't we saying it's incontrovertibly better than the W12? Hmm. Well, this is the application of the V8 which makes the least appealing noises of all in the Bentley canon. It sounds terrific, of course, but it's a muted snarl behind the bulkhead, rather than the full V8 bombast you get in either the Continental or the Bentayga. Maybe this is because of the longer exhaust routing on the Spur, or just the fact you sit further away from the tailpipes, but it's not a loud, scintillating symphony coming from the drivetrain. It also feels like it has to work that bit harder to counter the saloon's bulk. Again, this is an astonishingly fine distinction, because the Spur V8 is plenty rapid enough on the roads. However, it doesn't have the brutal remorselessness of the W12 at higher speeds, nor the effortless mid-range muscle, both of which make the 6.0-litre Spur so addictive. And, following on from our drive of said W12 on UK roads, at lower velocity we noticed just a touch more of the road surface passing beneath the Bentley's 22-inch tyres on rougher routes. It's not anything deal-breaking, naturally, but by the same token those MDS upgrade alloys clearly bring in some additional firmness that isn't strictly necessary on the four-door. We also harbour our suspicions that the V8 has a sportier overall suspension tune than the W12, although this might be us being paranoid.

In summary, when we drove the V8 versions of the Continental GT and the Bentayga, we instantly realised that, yes, this is the engine to go for in each of those vehicles. It took a few yards to make such a decisive call. With the Spur, though, we honestly couldn't tell you whether the V8 or W12 is the superior car. It's too tough to judge. But, by the same token, what cannot be ignored is that both the V8 and W12 Flying Spurs are thoroughly spectacular creations in every single regard. And having two mega supersaloons instead of one can only be a good thing, can't it?


Frankly, we're not complaining that the V8 Flying Spur doesn't exactly make a cast-iron, irrefutable case for picking it instead of the W12 variant that Bentley also offers. Instead, we're just delighted that the marque continues to deliver truly excellent vehicles, of which the V8 four-door is merely the latest - so pick four litres or pick six, because either way you're ending up with the top-end saloon to rule all other top-end saloons with the Bentley Flying Spur. It really is that simple.

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

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain

Matt Robinson - 27 Jan 2021    - Bentley road tests
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2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8. Image by Bentley.

2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8. Image by Bentley.2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8. Image by Bentley.


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