Bentley Flying Spur long-term take a look at (2021) overview

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► CAR lives with a Bentley Flying Spur
► Ben Pulman’s your information to luxurious life
► It’s a tough life, however somebody’s acquired to do it

What does Bentley imply to you? To me it’s what 007 actually drives; it’s Pink Label and Inexperienced Label Arnages; a succession of droptop Azures on the duvet of Jay-Z’s Vol 2… Onerous Knock Life, or within the arms of Jaheim within the video for Might It Be, and with Will Smith in Miami; a cheeky Le Mans win in ’03; after which a Continental GT that’s morphed from ‘footballer’s automotive’ in Mk1 guise to one of many nice grand tourers in its present kind. In different phrases, slightly muddled in my thoughts.

Which doesn’t look like the proper place to be when there’s one on your drive for just a few months. There’s no doubting the Flying Spur’s talents, however for those who’re out there for a luxurious limo, what would make you decide a Bentley over a Mercedes or Porsche? What does the winged badge indicate, and the way does this luxury tour de drive relate to the Bentleys of previous?

Bentley has an unique Flying Spur – which is fortuitous, as a result of I don’t know anybody who really owns any Bentley, not to mention one from the ’50s. It resides on the corporate’s heritage fleet, which has limos from the Arnage, by way of the Mulsanne, to the VW Group-era Flying Spurs, whereas on the different finish there are huge touring machines from the primary half of the twentieth century. There’s really a chasm of lacking steel between the 1958 Flying Spur and the Arnage, however the related automobiles are being acquired to make sure a full (and working) again catalogue by the summer time.

It’s an age since I used to be final at Bentley’s manufacturing facility – Pyms Lane in Crewe – however that was fairly an event: dinner with the CEO, in his personal home, to get a sneak peak of the SUV idea that may ultimately change into the Bentayga. Keep in mind that automotive, the EXP 9 F? In all probability greatest you don’t – when Wolfgang Dürheimer uncovered the outside and inside design sketches and requested the assembled media their opinion, all of us politely congratulated his group on the cabin styling…

Nonetheless, Dürheimer deserves credit score: as R&D boss within the early ’00s he took the flak for Porsche launching the Cayenne, after which took some extra by being the person within the firing line with the Bentayga. He’s gone now, however SUVs have remodeled Porsche’s earnings, and in Crewe its first SUV is now the corporate’s greatest vendor – although Conti GT and Flying Spur are almost one-third every – and within the first six months of 2021 earnings had been higher than any full 12 months in Bentley’s historical past. There are new buildings in all places, however reassuringly the automobiles themselves nonetheless come out of the unique brick manufacturing facility. It appears like a pre-war timewarp, no less than till you glimpse the state-of-the-art manufacturing traces hiding inside.

It’s now turned 70 years since Bentley established its personal design division in Crewe. The primary automotive penned again in 1951 was the R-Kind Continental, whereas its successor – the automotive we’re right here to drive – was designed in ’55. I used to be minus 30 years previous and the styling division introduced their concepts to life as hand-painted watercolour artworks, earlier than scale and technical drawings adopted, after which 3D wax fashions. It’s a far cry from the computer-dependent, virtual-reality world of immediately, however it clearly labored: I hadn’t anticipated to be bothered about such an previous automotive, however with its black paintwork gleaming this ’50s Flying Spur appears splendid.

flying spur vs classic spur

There are visible hyperlinks to the present Flying Spur: some are extra tenuous than others, just like the quad headlamps; and a few extra outstanding like the form of their rear haunches. However what’s actually hanging is simply how voluptuous the older automotive is. It’s acquired hips and curves – whoever carved this as a full-size wax mannequin did a heck of a job.

Does it really feel like the good grandfather to ‘my’ Flying Spur? No, not when there are such a lot of years between them – the hole is simply too nice, the expertise too totally different, the silhouette and packaging too dissimilar. And whereas the present Flying Spur affords room within the again to luxuriate, plus four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer and active-roll management goodies to permit the motive force to hoon, the oldie doesn’t allow rear-seat passengers to stretch out nor let the motive force hustle it in a means that belies its dimension.

But there’s no doubting the majesty and aura of VGX 853. Inbuilt 1958, the inside stays unrestored, and the automotive amazes on a number of fronts: the trip high quality, the refinement, and the eye to element. Unable to have the unrivaled breadth of immediately’s Flying Spur as a result of the expertise merely didn’t exist, it was created to cosset and coddle.
On huge balloon tyres it glides together with a serenity the present Flying Spur’s air springs and adaptive dampers can’t match, and with a deal with pure luxurious quite than sporting luxurious, the straight-six engine is easy and silky and close to silent. Then there’s the dashboard, seemingly carved from a complete tree trunk, and the windscreen wipers, the mirror arms, the switches – all stable steel and meticulously hewn.

I’ve no qualms about climbing again into the fashionable Flying Spur for the lengthy journey residence, however after a day ambling across the Cheshire countryside has something modified? I feel you make what you need of any model, automotive or in any other case, so simply as I reckon BMW has misplaced what it stands for, presently Bentley is buzzing alongside sweetly in its area of interest – and the unique Flying Spur is now one thing else of great be aware to be added to my very own interpretation of its again catalogue.

By Ben Pulman

Logbook: Bentley Flying Spur

Worth £160,200 (£216,225 as examined)
Efficiency 3993cc twin-turbo V8, 542bhp, 4.1sec 0-62mph, 198mph
Effectivity 22.2mpg (official), 26.4mpg (examined), 288g/km CO2
Power value 26.1p per mile
Miles this month 369
Complete miles 3455

Month 4 dwelling with a Flying Spur: again seat reviver

pulman flying spur ltt

My youngsters have loved luxuriating behind the Flying Spur, however for a short second of escapism I eliminated the kid seats and sat within the Bentley by myself for an hour or so of ‘work’.

Away from the necessity to re-enact scenes from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, I let the ‘soft-close’ door purr electronically shut and settled into the quiet serenity. I’m over 6ft tall however had no complaints about legroom right here, and I raised the rear blinds, set the seats to flippantly scald (aided by a heated fold-down central armrest), buried my head within the fluffy pillow of a headrest, and had a soothing therapeutic massage. Bliss.

Totally relaxed and in no temper to work up a sweat, I then put our three-year-old to work on cleansing the Bentley – however such is its sheer dimension she quickly drained and it was again to actuality as I scrubbed our native flock of pigeons’ droppings and the countryside’s filth from the Cricketball Pink paintwork. For that fleeting second, although, I had been king.

By Ben Pulman

Logbook: Bentley Flying Spur

Worth £160,200 (£216,225 as examined)
Efficiency 3993cc twin-turbo V8, 542bhp, 4.1sec 0-62mph, 198mph
Effectivity 22.2mpg (official), 25.3mpg (examined), 288g/km CO2
Power value 26.6p per mile
Miles this month 313
Complete miles 3086

Month 3 dwelling with a Bentley Flying Spur: discovering excellent concord

flying spur ltt overhead

North Wales used to look so shut once I lived close to CAR’s Peterborough HQ – and, crucially, was younger. Take a 911 GT3 to Snowdonia for a photograph shoot tomorrow? All in a night’s work, and no downside to drive straight again as soon as the images have been shot. Now, although, I’m previous, sleep-deprived thanks to 2 tots, and Betws-y-Coed is one of the best a part of six hours away.

However I do know the present Bentley Continental GT is a superb automotive for lengthy drives, and so the intently associated Flying Spur needs to be equally excellent. Right here’s hoping, as thus far we’ve not fairly gelled…

We’ve been beginning to get there, although. When there are two under-threes to herd, household outings to the close by seashore are all the time an occasion, however they’re really a pleasing occasion if you’re travelling by huge purple Bentley.

Hilariously incongruous too, with the boot filled with buckets and spades and picnic blankets and tents, queuing for Mr Whippy like everybody else, and being quite extra within the public eye when making an attempt to turn into dry garments again on the automotive after.

However except you reside in London and solely reside aft of the B-pillar, you don’t purchase a Bentley to remain inside 10 miles of your personal residence. No, it is best to darn nicely go locations in it… and wait, what’s this, a 1000-mile work journey? Good.

Off I am going from Hampshire to Snowdonia, and with a 90-litre tank the solely breaks are prompted by my thirst, not the automotive’s. After sunshine, rain storms and even hail, crossing the Welsh border I substitute the podcasts with one thing extra up-tempo for the final leg. Now, I’m no audio skilled, however my newbie ears decree the non-compulsory 2200w Naim system astonishing (although so it needs to be for £6725).

The primary correct cease is at a quarry in Bangor, and after 300 or so miles the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 (full with imperceptible cylinder deactivation) has returned an indicated 29.9mpg at a mean of 55mph. The following 100 miles are extra brisk (all the way down to a rendezvous in Snowdonia, a pizza run to maintain my colleagues fuelled to nightfall, and a late-night razz to a lodge) and take us to 401 miles, in simply over eight hours on the wheel, and a not too shabby 25.1mpg.

Higher but, the Bentley and I are lastly on the identical web page. As nicely as being the fabulous cruiser you’d count on, in a position to schlep serenely or abruptly surge ahead on an ideal wave of torque when a niche within the visitors opens up, it additionally reveals one other dimension to its abilities. Whereas different limos would possibly match it on the motorway, the Bentley is fairly particular on a blast by way of Snowdonia in a means no Rolls-Royce can rival.

Our Spur has the non-compulsory £5855 Bentley Dynamic Drive and Digital All Wheel Steering, and at first it had felt only a bit bizarre. The rear-steer a part of the package deal is comparatively straightforward to get used to: a abruptly tightening turning circle when popping out of junctions. However the 48-volt lively anti-roll management system is a much less pure match.

Now, nevertheless, due to my miles in North Wales, it’s beginning to make loads of sense. Sure, the Flying Spur nonetheless rolls a tad, even with as much as 1300Nm of anti-roll torque utilized in 0.3 seconds. That wasn’t the downside. The difficultly was my mind getting used to by how a lot, and underneath what situations, it might roll. I feel the problem is that it behaves so not like another automotive of this dimension – there’s merely nothing comparable tucked away in your reminiscence banks.

But the trip by no means appears to endure, with even the worst bumps Snowdonia can throw up unable to disrupt the progress of this huge suite of leather-based and captain’s chairs. Thoughts duly adjusted, the Flying Spur will hustle like nothing else. That is revealing itself to be one heck of a automotive.

By Ben Pulman

Logbook: Bentley Flying Spur

Worth £160,200 (£216,225 as examined)
Efficiency 3993cc twin-turbo V8, 542bhp, 4.1sec 0-62mph, 198mph
Effectivity 22.2mpg (official), 20.5mpg (examined), 288g/km CO2
Power value 32.1p per mile
Miles this month 1073
Complete miles 2773

Month 2 dwelling with a Bentley Flying spur: Dreamliner vs actuality

flying spur ltt child seat

By the underside of our street on day one I’m nonplussed by the Flying Spur. The low-profile tyres imply it doesn’t trip fairly in addition to the just-departed e-Tron (on wheels with the identical 21-inch diameter). And after the serenity of a pure-electric Audi, the V8 rumble and the altering of precise gears – regardless of how easy – makes the Bentley really feel unrefined by comparability.

Earlier than setting off we now have a difficulty, too. Most automobiles have apparent entry factors to their Isofix mounts, by way of little plastic flaps or zips within the seats. Not so the Flying Spur (as a result of that may quite spoil the aesthetics of the plush rear lodging – lodging that almost all homeowners are unlikely ever to place small youngsters in). As an alternative, you’ll want to half base from backrest; a course of that in my father-in-law’s previous Astra is a doddle. However within the Bentley, with its thick, sumptuously-stuffed leather-based, it’s a combat. An actual, 30-minute, sweat and swearing combat that makes you assume your baby seats received’t match and you may’t hold the Bentley. I do ultimately succeed, however solely after admitting defeat and then being despatched again out by my spouse.

Seats sorted, that first journey is a 100-mile journey, punctuated solely by the new child dropping his dummy into the cavernous no-man’s-land between the entrance and rear seats and the primary born being fascinated by the in-built blinds.

The Flying Spur is serene to cruise in, however I uncover just a few extra foibles compared to the e-Tron: regardless of the Bentley’s 568lb ft of torque, the preliminary throttle response can’t match that of an EV; and in retrospect I’ve come off the fence concerning the Audi’s dinky digital mirrors as a result of the Bentley’s huge mirrors create their very own big blind spot at junctions.

However after that household journey, and the odd solo run (fairly a method to arrive on your second jab…) I’m nonetheless quite flummoxed by the Flying Spur – I don’t adore it and I’m not received over. That’s what these long-term checks are about, although, so possibly a deliberate 1000-mile journey will reveal extra…

By Ben Pulman

Logbook: Bentley Flying Spur

Worth £160,200 (£216,225 as examined)
Efficiency 3993cc twin-turbo V8, 542bhp, 4.1sec 0-62mph, 198mph
Effectivity 22.2mpg (official), 22.2mpg (examined), 288g/km CO2
Power value 30.0p per mile
Miles this month 229
Complete miles 1700

Month 1 dwelling with a Bentley Flying Spur: asking lots, getting lots

flying spur ltt front tracking

Previously decade or so I’ve been exceptionally lucky to run all method of long-term take a look at automobiles, however two favourites stand out: an E92-generation BMW M3 Competitors, and a Mk1 Porsche Panamera GTS. Each had huge V8s that had been equally completely happy whipping across the dial or cruising at just a few thousand revs, dual-clutch gearboxes that might slur or snap by way of the adjustments, and every pulled off that legendary trick of feeling as particular in a Friday-night jam as they did in your favorite street.

I by no means uninterested in both of them. Each had been sporting GTs in essence (and the M3 has undoubtedly suffered slightly revisionist judgement that now deems it too heavy, with too many cylinders) and but I by no means as soon as felt both wanted to be extra targeted. They darn nicely did all of it. And the overdue level is, after almost 15 years dwelling with all method of steel, I do know what I like, and the following long-term take a look at automotive would possibly simply enter my pantheon of greatness alongside an M3 that some don’t appear to like several extra and a giant white Porsche.

Enter the Bentley Flying Spur V8, a £200k gateway to possibly probably the most ridiculous few months my household and I’ll ever expertise. We are going to without end make a degree of telling everybody we all know that we as soon as had a Bentley for the summer time and used it for the whole lot.

In truth, we have already got. Inside hours of the Flying Spur arriving we had been off to see household within the countryside and my daughter was having a post-nursery picnic within the again. The following night I took it paddleboarding, and soaking moist gear from the Solent acquired dumped within the boot (I fall in lots). It’s been to the seashore a number of instances in its first week with us, too. It’s fantastically opulent, and an totally ridiculous means for myself, my spouse on maternity go away, and our two-year-old and five-month-old to spend a bit of 2021.

That is the third-generation Flying Spur, a four-door sibling to the Continental GT, and each now share a platform with the present Panamera (whereas the Mk1 and Mk2 automobiles had been associated to VWs and Audis). That’s about nearly as good because the gene pool will get. Whereas any Stuttgart DNA left within the Flying Spur is welcome, you’d by no means know it’s in any means associated to a Porsche for all of the wooden and leather-based and gentleman’s membership atmosphere.

I’ve excessive hopes. I’d not pushed a present Flying Spur earlier than this however CAR’s Gavin Inexperienced declared of the W12-enginered model: ‘No huge limousine immediately can concurrently play the high-performance saloon with such conviction.’ And my very own expertise in a present W12 Continental GT is that there isn’t any finer place during which to eat motorway miles.

flying spur ltt interior

So, our automotive. It was pre-ordered by Bentley and… it’s not how I’d spec it. Barely as a result of I’m previous earlier than my time and like a little bit of chrome on my Bentley, however primarily as a result of I’ve really no concept what I’d go for. Crewe’s configurator is so huge I can’t even resolve upon a favorite color; the selection of paint is cut up into seven sub-categories and I counted 89 totally different hues. Then there are over a dozen leather-based colors, a good higher variety of veneers, distinction stitching…

With the choices made for us, our Flying Spur is Cricketball Pink, with Blackline specification (£3620) quite than chrome trim. Inside there’s each Linen and Burnt Oak leather-based and a Darkish Fiddleback Eucalyptus veneer.

The principle choices are the Mulliner Driving Specification (£10,290, and together with 21-inch wheels, quilted seats, and beguiling 3D leather-based door panels); the Touring Specification (£6480, for lane help, adaptive cruise, evening imaginative and prescient, and a head-up show); a £6725 Naim audio system; the £4865 swivelling central show that may be a digital display screen, a trio of clocks, or a veneer panel; and £5855 for rear-wheel steering and 48-volt anti-roll expertise.

We did ask for one additional to be added, although, a £295 heavy responsibility rubber boot mat from the equipment catalogue. It’s presently defending the too-nice-for-a-boot carpet, and all is nicely in our make-believe world.

At the very least it’s now, one month in. Inside the primary 60 minutes of having the keys, and after a lot sweat and swearing, I used to be satisfied the Flying Spur was ineffective to us and must go straight again. However we’ll save that for subsequent month…

By Ben Pulman

Logbook: Bentley Flying Spur

Worth £160,200 (£216,225 as examined)
Efficiency 3993cc twin-turbo V8, 542bhp, 4.1sec 0-62mph, 198mph
Effectivity 22.2mpg (official), 18.6mpg (examined), 288g/km CO2
Power value 35.6p per mile
Miles this month 161
Complete miles 1471


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