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Driven: 2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8. Image by Bentley.

Driven: 2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8
Does Bentleyís supposedly sporty V8 version of the Flying Spur make any sense at all?

   



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2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8

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The Bentley Flying Spur might be a wafty limousine, but it seems Bentley wants it to emanate some of the brand's sporting prowess. To that end, the company has developed the Flying Spur S, which is offered with a choice of V8 petrol and V6 hybrid powertrains. We sampled the V8 to find out whether the big Spur can really be considered sporty, and whether the S model makes any sense at all.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8
Price: Flying Spur from £177,760
Engine: 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power: 550hp
Torque: 770Nm
Emissions: 288g/km
Economy: 22.2mpg
0-62mph: 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 198mph
Boot space: 420 litres

Styling

Externally, the S version of the Flying Spur doesnít differ all that much from other Flying Spur models. Look closely and youíll spot the red brake callipers and the S badges behind the front wheel arches, but otherwise itís more or less all stuff you could specify on a standard Spur. The black alloy wheels, black trim around the windows and grille Ė itís all stuff thatís available as an option elsewhere. If truth be told, we arenít entirely sold on the gloss black look Ė weíd prefer some classic chrome Ė but it doesnít detract from an elegant-yet-muscly design that wonít be to everyoneís taste, but certainly has presence.

Interior

As with the exterior, the customisation options available for Flying Spur customers generally means it isnít that easy to tell an S from any other Flying Spur variant. But as standard, the S comes with Dinamica Ė a kind of suede-like material Ė seat inserts that sit alongside the classic Bentley leather. You can have a Dinamica steering wheel, too, and the material can appear in various other parts of the cabin.

Aside from Dinamica and the odd S badge, however, the cabin is classic Flying Spur. From the organ-stop ventilation controls to the glorious wood veneer that wraps around the cabin, itís beautifully crafted and fabulously well judged. Every material feels as premium as you expect, and every button feels well made. The design might be seen as chintzy by some, but itís a lovely place to sit and spend time.

But it isnít all classic and no technology. Not only is there a digital instrument display (albeit one based on Audiís brilliant Virtual Cockpit) but thereís a massive central screen that controls pretty much everything from media to driving modes and from navigation to phone connectivity. Thankfully, though, Bentley has stuck with physical heater controls, for which weíre most grateful.

You donít have to see the screen all the time, though. It lives in a rotating panel in the dash that has three faces Ė a plain wood veneer pattern for when the car is stopped and switched off, a three-dial classic dash design for the minimalist, and the full screen display. We quite like the classic look, but thatís just us.

Practicality

Even in S form, the Flying Spur is massive, so it's no surprise to find plenty of room in the cabin. The rear seats offer ample legroom and sufficient headroom for impressive comfort on any kind of journey, no matter how long. If you want to waft your way down to the south of France, the Flying Spur is the ideal car for the job. Yet the boot, which should be equally capacious, is no more than acceptable. At 420 litres, it's little bigger than that of a VW Golf, and while that's fine for everyday use, it's a bit small by the standards of the BMW 7 Series and Audi A8.

Performance

The Flying Spur S is available in V8 petrol and V6 plug-in hybrid forms, but itís the V8 weíre testing here. Normally, the V8 is the engine of choice in Bentley products Ė particularly the Continental GTC and the Bentayga Ė but the years have shown us the gap between W12- and V8-powered Flying Spurs is small.

Thatís partly because the Flying Spur is heavy regardless of which engine is in there Ė this one weighs more than 2.3 tonnes Ė but also because the cabin is so quiet that the sound is muted. Normally, V8 Bentleys make a thunderous rumble, but the Flying Spurís note is more quietly menacing than outright aggressive, even in Sport mode.

Still, itís a fabulous engine, and it sends 550hp to all four wheels, so the Spur is unsurprisingly rapid. Getting from a standstill to 62mph takes a mere 4.1 seconds, and the top speed is knocking on the door of 200mph. For smashing its way along the German autobahns, thereís nothing better. As long as you donít look at the economy, that is. Youíll struggle to top 20mpg, and because the tank is huge, filling it up costs a fortune. Not that many buyers will worry too much about that.

Ride & Handling

The Flying Spur is built to be a big, wafty saloon, and it carries out that duty exquisitely, but thereís another side to it, and particularly this S version. This car is built to make the most of the Spurís already bountiful dynamic capability, and to carry on Bentleyís tradition of building sporty saloons.

But as Ettore Bugatti once said, Bentley makes the fastest trucks in the world, and the Flying Spur is still a bit of a truck Ė at least on the scales. With such immense weight, it still isnít as agile as a Continental GT, and it always feels big and bulky. Yet it will corner at remarkable speeds, hurtling into bends and depending on the grip from those massive wheels to see it through on the other side. Itís really quite impressive.

Although itís also necessary, because stopping the Spur isnít easy. Despite its huge brakes, and even without the W12 up front, it takes quite a lot of slowing down before a corner, and that can get a bit alarming. It doesnít feel dangerous, but it does feel as though youíre managing the carís energy quite a lot, balancing acceleration both laterally and longitudinally. Details aside, however, the Spur is a marvellous thing. It handles beautifully for something so big, and though the ride is a bit stiff compared with something like a BMW 7 Series or Audi A8, itís immensely comfortable on a long drive.

Value

Calling the Flying Spur "a bit pricey" is a bit like calling the Manchester City team "moderately successful". The Flying Spur costs so much that those who have to ask definitely can't afford it. The sad thing is that those who can afford it probably don't care how much it costs, because they have money coming out of their ears. They want it, they buy it. So the question of value is a bit moot, but with an asking price well in excess of £200,000, there are plenty of cars that do 90 per cent of the Flying Spur's job for 50 per cent of the money. But they don't have the panache, the imperiousness, or the massive range of personalisation options...

Verdict

The idea of a sportier Flying Spur is, to a point, ridiculous. This is an enormous, weighty saloon that really doesnít justify an S model all that much. At least not on paper. On the road, however, the V8 S feels fabulous, and itís every bit as compelling as any other Flying Spur model, if not more so. If we were in the market for such a thing Ė and if we had the kind of money to be in the market for one Ė this is the one weíd choose.



James Fossdyke - 23 Nov 2023



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2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8. Image by Bentley.2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8. Image by Bentley.2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8. Image by Bentley.2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8. Image by Bentley.2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8. Image by Bentley.

2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8. Image by Bentley.2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8. Image by Bentley.2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8. Image by Bentley.2023 Bentley Flying Spur S V8. Image by Bentley.







 

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