2020 Bentley Flying Spur: First Drive Review

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceNew Flying Spur
In the 100 years since Bentley was founded, the company has built a reputation for luxurious hand-crafted cars that also pack a performance punch. From the racing exploits of the Bentley Boys in the 1930s to the luxury and power of the first Continental Flying Spur of the 1950s, Bentleys has always been something a little different. That formula continues today with the third generation of the modern Bentley Flying Spur, the most powerful, capable and technologically advanced Flying Spur to date, which provides increased levels of comfort, refinement and craftsmanship.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceFlying Spur History
When W.O. Bentley formed Bentley Motors in 1919, he aimed to build “a fast car, a good car, the best in its class.” The original Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur followed that mantra when it premiered in 1957 as a 4-door version of the highly acclaimed R-Type Continental; it had the notable ability to cruise all day at 100 mph. The S2 Continental Flying Spur debuted in 1959 with a powerful all-aluminum V8 engine and electrically-operated ride control; at the time it was the fastest 4-door car in the world. A total of 1,900 S2 Flying Spurs were hand-built between 1959 and 1962.

© Bentley MotorsModern Flying Spur
Bentley brought back the Continental Flying Spur name in 2005 as a four-door version of the Continental GT coupe, powered by a W12 engine with all-wheel drive. The second generation arrived in 2013 and the name was then changed to simply Flying Spur. Although this British automaker became part of the Volkswagen Group in the late 1990s, Bentley continues to design and build vehicles in Crewe, Great Britain.

© Bentley MotorsNew Design
Hand built in Britain, the latest Flying Spur features a new aluminum and composite chassis that let engineers move the front axle forward and increase the wheelbase by more than 5 inches. The bold grille is flanked by LED matrix headlights with cut crystal detailing, and a retractable and restyled Flying B is positioned above the grille. In profile, signature lines accentuate the haunches with one beginning between the headlights and fading into the rear door, with another running from the rear door to the taillight. At the rear, the lights feature a B motif and cut crystal effect, with large oval exhaust outlets below.

© Bentley MotorsModel Lineup
The third generation 2020 Bentley Flying Spur is offered in a single trim level but with extensive options, so each purchaser can order the car to match their own preferences. The choices begin with 17 standard exterior colors and 13 extended range colors, as well as 15 interior leather colors. Optional packages include the Mulliner Driving Specification and the Blackline Specification. The starting price for the 2020 Bentley Flying Spur for the U.S. market is $216,400 excluding destination charge and gas guzzler tax.

© Bentley MotorsBlackline Specification
The Blackline Specification replaces much of the exterior bright trim with black trim, including the Flying B hood ornament, grille, headlight bezels, side window surrounds, front fascia elements, fender vents, lower door trim, rear light bezels, rear bumper trim and exhaust outlets. Priced at $4,735, the Blackline Specification also includes 21-inch five tri-spoke alloy wheels or optional 22-inch Mulliner Driving Specification wheels.

© Bentley MotorsMulliner Driving Specification
Bentley became associated with coachbuilder Mulliner in 1959, and to this day Mulliner craftsmen and craftswomen add custom touches from upholstery to body modifications to accommodate owner requests. The Mulliner Driving Specification includes a package of custom features for the Flying Spur including Lofted Diamond Leather Quilting upholstery for the seats, a Bentley wing motif embroidered in the seats, unique three-dimensional diamond leather door inserts and sports pedals. Priced at $14,680, Mulliner Driving Specification also includes exclusive Mulliner 22-inch wheels in a choice of two finishes, as well as a jeweled finish for the fuel filler and oil caps. Mulliner also created solid wood, three-dimensional quilted door inserts, exclusively available in open-pore walnut.

© Bentley MotorsPowerful Engine
The new Bentley Flying Spur is powered by a revised version of Bentley’s twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine producing 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque from 1350 to 4500 rpm. Power gets delivered through a dual-clutch 8-speed ZF transmission and a new active all-wheel-drive system that can deliver power to the rear wheels only, but shifts torque to the front wheels depending on driving conditions. According to Bentley, the Flying Spur will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds with a top track speed of 207 mph.

© Bentley MotorsDrive Dynamic Mode
The 2020 Flying Spur’s Drive Dynamic Mode offers the choice of four driving presets: Bentley, Comfort, Sport and Custom. Each drive mode changes the settings for throttle response, transmission, suspension, steering, stability control, traction control and all-wheel drive. In Bentley and Comfort mode, the all-wheel-drive system will direct up to 53 percent of the torque to the front axle. In Sport mode, the amount of torque to the front wheels is limited to 31 percent for a more dynamic feel.

© Bentley MotorsSuspension and Steering
The third generation Flying Spur receives a sophisticated, high-tech suspension with 3-chamber air springs, continuous damping control, the Bentley Dynamic Ride 48-volt active anti-roll bar system, and electronic variable ratio all-wheel steering. The air springs allow a wider range of suspension adjustment; basically a range between limousine-quality ride comfort and high-performance driving dynamics.

© Bentley MotorsInterior of Excess
Inside, the new Bentley Flying Spur is swathed in leather, wood and technology. Any Flying Spur owner will be continually answering the question whether the best seat in the house is the comfort of the rear seat or behind the wheel. Bentley designers and engineers intended the new Flying Spur to be both a car to be driven and a car to be driven in. The driver watches a digital gauge cluster, and a wide band of wood sweeps across the dash and into both doors surrounding the driver and front-seat passenger, emphasizing the width of the cabin. Crown Cut Walnut is a wood veneer option, as well as Dark Fiddleback and Piano Black — eight single and seven dual veneer options are offered.

© Bentley MotorsMolded Leather
The wood from the dash sweeps into the upper portion of the doors; the lower portion is covered in molded leather as part of the Mulliner Driving Specification. This new process creates a panel with a bold three-dimensional geometric pattern that to the touch is the subtle, smooth and feels like fine leather.

© Mike Meredith, Automotive Content ExperienceNew Seats, Technology
Both the front and rear seats are a new design, from the style and functionality to the size and pattern. The front seats feature a twin-flute design with heating / cooling, active bolsters and a top-tilt function to support the upper back. The rear seats are a straight-flute design that offer 14-way adjustment, heating / cooling and five massage modes. A detachable touchscreen remote allows rear-seat passengers to adjust blinds, climate control, rear seat massage and interior lighting. Tablets behind the front seat headrests are also removable and rear-seat passengers can access navigation, entertainment and other vehicle functions.

© Bentley MotorsOn the Road
Bentley hosted a media event to experience the new Flying Spur in — of all places — Monte Carlo, where the newest offering from Bentley blends in immediately with the glamour and fashion of a city like no other. That said, navigating the narrow streets of Monte Carlo in a car more than 7 feet wide and 17 feet 5 inches long while sparring with delivery trucks and city buses became a harrowing experience very fast. But once out on the twisty mountain roads north of Nice, France, the Flying Spur transformed into an engaging, responsive sport sedan that belies its weight of more than 5,300 pounds.

© Bentley MotorsSport Sedan
From the driver’s seat, the Flying Spur is powerful, responsive and feels like a much smaller car. The power is instantly available at any speed with even the slightest throttle input; put a right foot down hard and the Flying Spur turns into a rocket. The most remarkable aspect of the Flying Spur? How well it turns in at a corner without a hint of understeer one would expect with a heavy, all-wheel drive car; it carves a smooth arc through any bend. The combination of 4-wheel steering, air suspension and 48-volt active roll bars works in concert to create a driving experience unexpected in a car of this size.

© Bentley MotorsDual-Clutch Transmission
Another surprise: How well the dual-clutch transmission launches the car from a stop; it also handles stop-and-go traffic without a hint of awkwardness often experienced with a dual-clutch application. Points off for the occasional harsh shift in Sport mode when accelerating hard and backing off just before the shift, but overall the transmission works very well.

© Bentley MotorsDrive Dynamic Mode
In default Bentley drive mode the Flying Spur is both dynamic and comfortable; the driver may choose Sport done to turn everything up a notch. The throttle gets more responsive, shifts are more aggressive and suspension and steering are more performance-oriented.

© Bentley MotorsLuxury and Refinement
What most people expect from Bentley is the craftsmanship, refinement and personalization of the interior, which continues in the new Flying Spur at the highest levels. New owners can literally customize the interior to exact specifications with leather, wood, metal and color combinations to match any taste. The new molded leather door panels offer a three-dimensional visual aspect combined with a supple leather feel to the touch.

© Bentley MotorsOn-Sale Date
The 2020 Bentley Flying Spur is available to order now, with the first cars scheduled to be delivered in early 2020.

© Bentley MotorsRight for You?
The new Bentley Flying Spur offers a refined luxury experience and the opportunity to tailor all materials to personal taste. Along with that, the Flying Spur delivers a driving experience of a sport sedan that will satisfy the most demanding driver. If the driving experience is just as important as the level of comfort and refinement, the Bentley Flying Spur is the car for you.

© Bentley MotorsRating: 9.0
Pros: Exquisite interior; powerful engine; surprisingly positive driving dynamics.
Cons: High price of entry; only a few will ever experience this car; occasional rough shifts in Sport mode.
Bottom Line: A car with the luxury and performance worthy of the legendary name, the new Bentley Flying Spur presents its owner with a perplexing dilemma — drive or be driven.

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