Even when you’re a high-flying, uber-luxury brand you’re always having to keep up with the Jones'. Bentley releases the Bentayga SUV, Rolls Royce responds with the Cullinan. Bentley releases the Continental GT, Rolls comes back – albeit quite some time later – with the Wraith. And so the dance goes on, and on, and on.
Now, with pressure from the likes of Porsche, Mercedes and even Audi in the full-size luxury sedan game, Bentley finds itself having to respond to market demands and comes out with this: the all-new Continental Flying Spur. All the hallmark Bentley stuff remains – handcrafted in Great Britain, twin turbo W12 engine (enhanced for 2019 and now good for 626 hp and 664 – six-sixty four! -- lb-ft, up from 621 hp and 590 lb-ft last year), eight speed ZF transmission and an interior lined with top-tier leather and wood. The wheelbase is 130 cm longer than the previous model.
There have been a number of technological and chassis additions as well. Namely, the addition of rear-wheel steering for the first time in a Bentley. The Flying Spur also now gets all-wheel drive as standard. At lower speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction from the front in an effort to shrink the turning radius and the same direction as the front at higher speeds for added stability.
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The new Flying Spur rides on an all-new platform that uses aluminum superforming, which we first saw on the Flying Spur’s GT sibling. The superforming, Bentley says, helps provide best-in-class body stiffness and rigidity.
This being a Bentley, styling is paramount. The Flying Spur has a similar front fascia to the GT but gets chrome-sleeved LED headlamps and a retractable Flying Spur mascot atop the grille, which is a feature we haven’t seen on a Bentley for quite some time. It also gets a chrome grille surround and vertical vanes said to recall the 1957 Flying Spur.
Other stylistic tweaks include a new 21-inch wheel design and two new 22-inch designs, new wraparound tail lamps and a crease over the rear wheels reminiscent of those seen on the GT. Here, it provides the Flying Spur with a slightly more cab-rearward profile. It’s a thoroughly modern stylistic take on the traditional grand touring sedan.
Inside, all the stuff that’s expected of a car of this pedigree is present, such as diamond-quilted leather seat surfaces, optional full-length panoramic glass roof, dual-veneer wood inserts and world-first 3D diamond-quilted door inserts. Even the infotainment interface gets a luxurious touch; when the engine start button is pressed, a veneer panel on the dash rotates away to reveal the 12.3-inch touchscreen. It’s a three-tile setup used to control navigation, phone and optional 19-speaker, 2,200 watt Naim audio system, which Bentley says has built exclusively for them. A 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen system is standard, and there’s also a 16-speaker option.
Of course, if all that’s not enough for you, Mulliner custom coach builders have all sorts of treats in store for the Flying Spur, including bespoke paint colours, leather hides and monogrammed upholstery.