The Flying Spur, Bentley’s ‘small’ four-door limo, is huge and so you’d be forgiven for thinking that something of this size most probably wouldn’t be very thrilling to drive. There is a very reasonable chance that you’d let someone else, probably Jeeves your chauffeur, to do the driving for you and it’d be at a slow and steady pace in this most stately of saloons which boasts exquisite luxury and craftsmanship, a sculpted design and state-of-the-art technology, right? Oh, how wrong you are...
It’s a luxurious, spacious cabin swathed in hand-crafted leather hides and wood veneers and dripping with opulence — and tech
You (yes, you...) have to drive this W12 to really appreciate the eye-widening performance it is blessed with. Sure, it’d be an exhilarating experience even from the back seat but why should your driver have all the fun commanding this five-star hotel on wheels? You need to give him the day off and do it yourself. It feels wrong; something this large and luxurious shouldn’t be able to hit 100kph from rest in just over four seconds and have a top speed of over 320kph. But it does, and it’s brilliant.
The last Flying Spur I drove only had a tiny little 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with a paltry 500bhp and 660Nm of torque, so obviously you need more. Stuffed under the bonnet of this is Bentley’s most powerful engine, the 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12, and it produces a staggering 616bhp and 800Nm. You do the math. The 48-valve motor uses the latest Bosch ME17 interface and features improved torque management, turbocharger control, driveability and emissions performance. It’s mated to the latest ZF eight-speed, quick-shift automatic that can swap the cogs imperceptibly in under 200 milliseconds and feeds all of that grunt to all four wheels split with a 40:60 rear-bias. It is seriously potent — but to think a new W12 S will soon be available making a reported 626bhp and probably produce more torque than a space shuttle is mind-boggling.
This one is more than adequate at pinning you back to the diamond-quilted hide seats — which by the way, do a sterling job in mimicking thrones — and you really don’t need any extra oomph. Where would you unleash it all anyway? At the 24 Hours of Le Mans where Bentley’s early history was greatly influenced? Yeah right. Be honest — you’re not leaving the boulevard. And you shouldn’t. This land yacht needs to be seen and appreciated. Ease off the throttle so everyone can soak in the classy chrome trim around the windows, the Bentley ‘B’ on the front quarter panels and the W12 badges. You don’t want them thinking this is the V8 now, do you? They’ll likely drool over the LED day-time running lights, eye-catching matrix grille, muscular rear haunches, 21in seven-spoke alloys and that sporty stance. It’s a shame you can’t drive with the doors open for the interior, with 600 new parts, really ought to get a look in too; it’s a luxurious, spacious cabin swathed in hand-crafted leather hides and wood veneers and dripping with opulence — and tech. It includes massaging seats, a touch-screen infotainment system, mobile connectivity including Wi-Fi, a Rear Seat Entertainment suite and a new hand-held Touch Screen Remote which allows rear-seat occupants to control a range of features from the AC to the eight-channel, eight-speaker audio system.
In spite of the really lavish interior and ever so elegant aesthetics, it’s the way it propels you down the road in a smooth yet blistering fashion that impresses and surprises in equal measure. The independent computer-controlled air suspension does a fabulous job in smoothing out road imperfections; the suspension has been softened front and rear by 10- and 13 per cent respectively for improved ride comfort — but it doesn’t lean as much as you’d think when you push it in the corners. And when you’re driving in Sport mode with your teeth clenched, the ride height is automatically lowered to improve stability and reduce drag.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the Bentley Flying Spur W12 is a great car to drive — or be driven in and if you are in the market for a grand and exceptionally fast luxury saloon, then this is just the ticket. And yes, you’ll very likely get a lot of speeding tickets too.
Just blame them on the butler...