Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Price: £133,300
Top speed: 200 mph 0-60mph 4.5 seconds
Consumption: 17 mpg
CO2 emissions: 396g/km
Best for: The Premiership
Also worth considering? Mercedes-Benz S-Class AMG, Audi S8, Jaguar XJ/R

The odd thing about the fastest four-door saloon on sale (maybe until the Porsche Panamera turns up) is that its name sounds just as appealing however you rearrange it. Continental Bentley Speed Flying Spur, for example, gives you just the same promise of pace and comfort. As does Bentley Flying Spur Continental Speed. Maybe not Spur Bentley Continental Speed Flying, but, like a speech by John Prescott or George Bush, you get the general impression anyway.

What is the general impression? Well, it is big. And heavy, at a couple of tons plus. That gives this limo suitably imposing proportions, and helps it deliver a very composed ride, but its sheer bulk I found a bit intimidating. It can be hustled with surprising haste around twisty lanes, but it will fray nerves as well as tyres doing so. A Ford Mondeo, say, feels more planted and manoeuvrable at high speeds, which I suppose it is; even a Bentley can't defy the laws of physics. The reverse parking camera on our test car suffered from condensation, while the electric boot- closing mechanism seemed to have a will of its own: disappointing when everything else works so beautifully.

The "Speed" is the latest variation on the Bentley Continental theme. The original, still gorgeous, Flying Spur four-door saloon and the GTC are now being offered with "Speed" variants – a bit faster, even bigger wheels, a harsher ride and, naturally, more to buy and run. In numbers, it's a matter of £15,800 to uprate the 12-cylinder motor's horsepower from 552bhp to 600bhp, put another 5mph on the top speed to take it to the full 200mph, and get you to 60mph from rest in four tenths of a second less. Bentley owners must decide if such marginal matters are worth a nursing auxiliary's annual salary. Given that equates to about seven minutes on the pitch at Anfield or wherever for Bentley's core clientele (Steve Gerrard being the latest to be photographed with one, in less than happy circumstances), I guess they'll sell plenty of these models.

But there's an Emperor's Clothes problem here: these Bentleys have 20-inch alloy wheels as standard; absurdly big, they stand proud of their tyres, so they get kerbed very, very easily. Now just imagine you and your WAG pulling up at the shops in your Bentley, only to have the hoi polloi sneer at your horribly scraped alloy wheels. Not even top footie stars would pay £15,800 for such an embarrassing design fault. Would they?

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