Motoring review: Bentley Flying Spur

Is Bentley's saloon more luxurious for losing its sporty edge?

Price: £140,900
Engine: 5,998cc, W12 cylinders, 48 valves, twin turbos, 625bhp
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Performance: 200mph, 0-62 in 4.6 seconds, 19.2mpg, CO2 343g/km

The scene is surreal: I'm in a Communist country, driving a new Bentley Flying Spur. Yet far from being a beacon of Western decadence among low-value uniformity, the Bentley fits perfectly into the streetscape of big Audis, six-lane highways and conspicuous consumption.

It's telling that Bentley's Beijing dealership is the company's biggest in the world. More Flying Spurs are sold in China than in any other country. Even stranger is that I'm able to drive it with neither chaperone nor even evidence of being shadowed, as I leave the smog-shrouded city centre and head for a section of the Great Wall.

Driving in China is about exploiting every traffic gap and abandoning all lane discipline. On motorways, lorries congregate in the middle and faster traffic filters past on either side. In the country, sweeping along valleys and up mountains, you never know what lies around the next bend but it could be a parked handcart, pile of bricks or impromptu gathering of locals.

No one seems to show any Bentley envy. But it is a covetable car, a remake now more distanced from its GT cousins. The idea is to make the saloon a luxury car in every way, without the underlying sense of sporting intent that sat uneasily with the too-noisy, too-bumpy old model. This makes perfect sense: Bentleys have historically been both luxury cars and sporting cars, but many Spur buyers prefer to be driven and to luxuriate in the back seat.

The suspension is around 10 per cent softer, yet despite this extra cushioning, the Spur has also become the fastest, most powerful Bentley saloon yet created. Its 6.0-litre, twin-turbo, W12 engine generates 625bhp, propelling this 2.5-tonne vehicle to 62mph in just 4.6 seconds. Top speed is a rounded, and ludicrously high, 200mph.

Is it beautiful? To these eyes, not entirely. The edges are crisper than before, but the tail is oddly bland and the straight lower edge of the side windows sits awkwardly above the curvaceous haunches. Inside, however, all is as tastefully indulgent as you would expect, with a choice of woods and leathers and an air of everything really being made from the substance it looks like. But while there is no synthetic deception here, it's hard to stomach £1,425 for contrasting stitching, £1,675 for a two-tone steering wheel and £405 for an extra boot carpet in a car costing £140,900.

A new feature is the hand-held remote control by which rear passengers can control various air-conditioning and multimedia functions. The sound system is impressive, too: playing "Revolution" from a Beatles CD bought in Beijing felt particularly appropriate.

To ride in, the Spur is supremely quiet and comfortable, except when the air suspension encounters a sharp ridge. To drive, it's less pleasing. That suspension has four stages of firmness but the range of variance is narrow. The accelerator has a stodgy action, and for all its potency, the engine vibrates perceptibly when worked with vigour. In fast bends its tyres squeal and scrub, and the heavy nose feels unwilling to commit to a cornering line.

Therein lies the enigma that is the Flying Spur. It's hugely fast but it almost discourages you from using all that pace. All it really gains you is the satisfaction of knowing the potential is there, and that it can play Tantalus with your chauffeur as you waft in comfort.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

    £50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

    Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

    £45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Professional Services Firm - Oxford

    £21000 - £24000 per annum + 21 days holidays: Ashdown Group: Technical Support...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor