The New Bentley Flying Spur Is Surprisingly Nimble On The Narrow Roads Of Monaco
Monaco is hardly the ideal place to test the dynamics of the new Bentley Flying Spur, what with its narrow roads and limited space, but it is the perfect place to launch it. The glitzy sovereign city-state is not only known for its altruistic monarchy, but its incredible wealth—nearly one-third of its residents are millionaires, according to Knight Frank’s The Wealth Report 2019. When the global launch event took place last October, even jaded residents came to have a gander at the fleet of Flying Spurs parked at Casino Square outside the iconic Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo.
The model’s name was taken from the 1957 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur, and the first of the modern series continued in 2005 with the name Continental Flying Spur as it rode into the market on the coattails of Bentley’s Continental GT coupe and convertible. By 2013, the British marque decided that from its second generation, the model should stand on its own. Hence, its moniker was shortened to simply “Flying Spur”.
At first brush, the new Flying Spur seems smaller than before, but that is an illusion as the curvaceous styling conceals its size well. The car is longer than its predecessor, although it is just as wide. It appears a smidgen lower, but perhaps the considerably lengthened wheelbase imparts the impression of being low-slung.
The car is based on the latest platform that underpins the Porsche Panamera, which is a much better starting point than that of the previous Flying Spur that came from Volkswagen. With much of the fundamental development already taken care of, Bentley could do what it does best—create luxury.
With electrification on the threshold of the automotive industry, it seems curious that Bentley would choose to launch its new Flying Spur with a 6.0L W12 engine. However, with an enticing 626bhp and 900Nm, this is an artful way to reintroduce the model. Future models will no doubt include V8 and hybrid engines.
Mated to the latest eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and an all-wheel drive system, the car sprints from 0 to 100km/h in a scarcely believable 3.8sec. It is capable of reaching an astonishing top speed of 333km/h, which can already be attained in sixth gear, leaving the top two gears of the gearbox to trim engine revs, reducing fuel consumption to 14.8L/100km—an improvement of about 15 per cent as compared to the previous model. After all, the Flying Spur has always been the sportier choice within the luxury saloon market, thanks to its racing heritage. To reinforce this, Bentley has ensured that for this new model, it delivers an awe-inspiring performance in addition to elegant opulence.
Driving around the glitzy, but narrow roads of Monaco
Thanks to the crawling traffic in Monte Carlo, it took us a good half hour to finally be able to appreciate the wonder that is the Flying Spur. The car’s sheer size was clearly not an advantage on the narrow streets of this glamorous destination, but when we reached the open highway, the Flying Spur shined.
For our test-drive, Bentley suggested that we try driving the car in the “Bentley” drive mode, which is perfect for the everyday drive—it sees the car’s active air suspension automatically adjusting to provide the best damping that suits the driving situation. There is also Comfort mode, which further improves ride comfort by adequately cushioning passengers from road bumps and potholes, and Sport mode, which delivers a more thrilling drive.
As we drove out of Monaco to the foothills of the French Alps, we traced part of the route that is used during the annual Monte Carlo Rally racing competition. Tackling the serpentine mountain roads in a limousine this huge could have been dreadful, but the Flying Spur was surprisingly agile and stable. This is thanks to the its all-wheel-steer system, which allows it to get around tight corners and small car parks without breaking a sweat. At high speeds, the same system also improves stability.
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Thanks to the snappy acceleration wrought by a potent twin-turbo W12 engine, the Flying Spur hides its two‑and-a-half ton mass effectively. Sure, you can drive the car hard and the physical limitations of its weight and size will be apparent, but the entire package is so well-honed that it is actually entertaining to drive. In fact, this might place owners in a dilemma in this part of the world, where the Flying Spur is typically chauffeur-driven.
For the interior, the new Flying Spur sports a refreshed design that is tastefully done without appearing to be trying too hard. Bentley melds traditional aspects of British luxury with modern features such as LCD panels, a raft of electronic controls, and decorative stitching adorning the leather upholstery. If the standard look doesn’t appeal to you, there is the optional Mulliner Driving Specification, where you can select the new Lofted Diamond seat design as well as an optional diamond-knurled finish for the air vents.
You can customise the car’s interior further with the wide selection of options for everything from veneers and upholstery, to stitching and seat belts. Our two favourite looks are the dark tan with contrasting lacquered wood grain veneers, and the black with gold/tan stitching and piano black veneers.
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On the whole, the new Flying Spur is as engaging to drive as its sportier sibling, the Continental GT coupe, but with all the trappings of a traditional luxury limousine. And this is not to say it is old-fashioned. Every facet of the car has been given a modern touch without losing the sense of what is cherished by Bentley car owners. Thus without a doubt, Bentley has delivered a command performance with the Flying Spur, and made it a car you would want to drive yourself.
Bentley Flying Spur
Body: Four-door luxury saloon, steel and aluminium monocoque construction
Engine: 6.0L W12 twin-turbocharged
Max Power 626bhp at 5,000-6,000rpm
Max Torque 900Nm at 1,350-4,500rpm
Transmission Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual mode
Acceleration 0-100km/h in 3.8sec
Top Speed 333km/h
Fuel Consumption 14.8L/100km (combined mode)
Price (excluding COE) From $969,000
Agent Wearnes Automotive, 45 Leng Kee Road; tel: 6378 2628