by Karl Furlong
With this year's unfortunate demise of the legendary Mulsanne, the brand new Flying Spur becomes Bentley's only ultra-luxury sedan offering. The British automaker doesn't want you to waste any time mourning the Mulsanne, though, so in steps the Flying Spur, built on an all-new platform and sporting a much more imposing design that clearly borrows cues from the Continental GT. Fortunately, a mighty engine remains in the form of a 6.0-liter W12 motor packing 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque, sufficient to whisk the world's elite to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and reach a top speed of over 200 mph. Not that the average Flying Spur owner will often indulge in such buffoonery, of course; they'll be more interested in the sedan's sumptuous cabin with the expected meticulous craftsmanship, but now with more up-to-date infotainment tech. With its rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, it's also more fun to drive than a Rolls-Royce, but rest assured that comfort remains a top priority.
The third-generation Bentley Flying Spur arrives as an all-new model for the 2020 model year. Outside, the refreshed styling sees the introduction of a much larger grille, headlights that resemble those of the Continental GT, and more defined creases that are evident from the rear three-quarter view. The wheelbase is around five inches longer than before and the Flying Spur shares a platform with the Porsche Panamera. Inside, the cabin features an updated infotainment system with a screen that is completely hidden beneath a glossy veneer when not in use. For now, a 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine shared with the Bentayga Speed is the only powerplant that is available.
See trim levels and configurations:
6.0L Twin-Turbo W12 Gas
Bentley has done a commendable job of updating the Flying Spur while retaining the car's stately charm. The bigger grille (with bright vertical vanes) is more imposing than before, as are the full-LED matrix headlamps, while twin oval stainless steel tailpipes jut out at the back. The overall look isn't as brazen as a Rolls-Royce, but neither does it fade into the background like a Maybach. 21-inch wheels are bright-painted and feature a ten-spoke design.
Although under an inch longer than before, the new Flying Spur's 125.7-inch wheelbase is five inches lengthier than the outgoing model's. Overall length works out to 209.3 inches, width including the mirrors is 87.4 inches, and height is 58.4 inches. At 5,373 pounds, it's a bit lighter than the previous W12 model, but this remains a heavy machine, hardly a surprise since no expense has been spared to make this one of the quietest and most opulent vehicles on the road.
A selection of 17 colors for the exterior is an example of Bentley's commitment to deliver a bespoke product that suits each client's needs to a tee. For shoppers who couldn't be bothered to configure their Flying Spur from scratch, Bentley offers five pre-configured models such as Tuscan (painted in Verdant, a dark green) and Storm Noir (painted in Magnetic, a dark grey). The standard range of shades includes White Sand, Moonbeam, Portofino (blue), Camel, Glacier White, and Dark Sapphire. The extended range of 14 shades, meanwhile, includes the aforementioned Verdant, along with Sequin Blue, Cricket Ball (a deep, moody red), Ice, Anthracite, and Alpine Green.
Despite its bulk, the Bentley Flying Spur is a properly rapid luxury sedan. With its all-wheel-drive traction and big 6.0-liter W12 producing 626 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque, the Flying Spur will go from zero to sixty in just 3.7 seconds on its way to an absurd top speed of 207 mph. That's comfortably quicker than both the rear-wheel-drive Rolls-Royce Ghost and Phantom, and just a tenth of a second behind the lighter BMW M760i xDrive. It's also half a second speedier than the outgoing W12 model. The quick shifts of the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission help the Flying Spur live up to its name when you floor it and, quite simply, it's a wonder to be able to accelerate this quickly while ensconced in the supremely relaxing cabin.
While alternative powertrains are likely to be introduced further down the line, for now, the Bentley Flying Spur is exclusively available with the 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 engine generating 626 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. With its 'W' configuration, the smooth engine is 24 percent shorter than a similar V12, which Bentley says has the dual benefit of improving weight distribution and availing more space in the passenger compartment. The new sedan also employs the eight-speed ZF-sourced dual-clutch transmission found in the Continental GT, which Bentley painstakingly massaged to remove any hint of shudder at lighter throttle openings, while retaining the swift gear shifts that is the hallmark of a dual-clutch 'box.
Together, the W12 and the eight-speeder allow the driver to make rapid, effortless progress. Peak torque is available early on, so only moderate use of the throttle is needed to glide past a sea of 'ordinary' vehicles. When the road clears up and Sport mode is selected, the Flying Spur will plant occupants firmly back in their seats as it chases the horizon. Whichever driving mode you choose, though, the W12's deep reserves of power are befitting of a big Bentley.
The Flying Spur rides on a standard air suspension with continuous damping control. Built on the same platform as the accomplished Porsche Panamera, the fundamentals are in place for the Bentley to deliver excellent dynamics, and it does just that. Although all-wheel-drive, the Flying Spur's system is rear-biased, sending power to the front only when slip is detected. Along with a rear-steering system, the setup endows the massive sedan with great composure when the road starts to turn. In fact, the Bentley's agility is at odds with its epic proportions; it's a full-size sedan that can really be hustled if you want to.
There are four driving modes to choose from: Comfort, Bentley, Sport, and Custom. The good news is that there is a discernible difference between each, with Comfort providing a serenely smooth ride, and Sport tightening things up considerably. Bentley mode strikes an ideal balance between a smooth ride and composed cornering, but Custom is useful for combining, as an example, the sportiest powertrain responses with a softer suspension setting. There are paddle shifters for more control, but the Flying Spur is at its best when left to do its own thing, effortlessly whisking occupants around and shutting out any hint of external noise. This really is a sedan that does it all.
According to EPA estimates, the Flying Spur is expected to return consumption figures of 12/19/15 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. Clearly, then, this is not the vehicle to get if economy is a factor. Still, the Rolls-Royce Ghost is even worse, with EPA estimates of 12/18/14 mpg. With a 23.8-gallon gas tank, expect the Flying Spur to manage a range of approximately 357 miles.
The cabin is where Bentley rules supreme, with only Rolls-Royce on a similar level when it comes to sheer attention to detail. The design is lovely and similar to the Continental GT, although there are a few differences, such as the Flying Spur's more rectangular-shaped middle air vents (as opposed to the Continental GT's bull's eye, rounded items) and the center console is lower. With Alcantara headlining, beautifully finished glossy wood that runs from the dashboard into the front doors, and finely stitched leather, it looks and feels truly special. The 12.3-inch touchscreen is bright and clear, being shared with the Panamera, but it can be easily hidden from sight as the entire display optionally rotates to reveal a veneered panel. Although there is loads of space, the middle rear seat isn't nearly as comfortable as the outboard perches. It goes without saying that power-adjustable seats, navigation, and four-zone climate control are all standard.
The Flying Spur provides seating for five passengers, although it is better to consider it a 4+1 because the rear middle seat is much narrower and far less comfortable than the outboard seats. All other seats provide truly opulent comfort, with beautiful leather upholstery, good padding, and plenty of leg- and headroom. As expected, the driver's chair is electrically adjustable in multiple directions and, together with a power-adjustable steering column, it's easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. With standard massaging and adjustable cushion length/active side bolsters, it really is hard not to get comfortable. Ultra soft Alcantara headrest cushions on the back seats are a truly opulent touch. Thanks to massive doors, ingress and egress are as easy as can be, although tighter parking spots will necessitate care to avoid scratching the glossy paintwork.
As expected, the Bentley Flying Spur has a stunning selection of interior materials. Quality is something special and the scope for customization is broad. As standard, buyers can choose between 15 premium grade leather colors, while the tasteful appointments include Crown Cut veneer, a gorgeous leather-trimmed steering wheel, an Alcantara headlining, and treadplates with the embossed lettering 'Handbuilt in Crewe, England'. As with the exterior, the interior can be customized by choosing from one of five pre-selected themes, which takes the effort out of choosing each option individually. For instance, Cool Harmony mixes Linen/Burnel hide colors, while the striking Fire and Ice features Linen/Cricket Ball leathers and Piano Black trim. A main and second leather color can be chosen, with shades including Damson, Hotspur, Magnolia, Newmarket Tan, Cumbrian Green, and Imperial Blue.
The veneer choices are just as posh, including Tamo Ash and Burr Walnut, while there are also dual-finish veneers like Dark Stained Burr Walnut over Grand Black. Even the contrast stitching and type of Bentley emblem can be specifically chosen, while the Diamond Knurling Specification adds the shiny knurling to the bulls-eye air vents and organ stop controls.
Considering the Flying Spur's size, the 14.8 cubic feet of trunk space isn't anything special, falling well short of the BMW 7 Series which offers 18.2 cubes. The Mercedes-Maybach S also has a bigger trunk, with 17.6 cubes. Still, you can fit two medium-sized Gucci suitcases in there without much trouble, along with some smaller items on top of or around the cases.
In the cabin, the well-sized door bins can accommodate large bottles, while two cupholders are concealed beneath a damped cover just ahead of the center console armrest. At the back, you get one of the most lavish central armrests you'll find in any vehicle, with ample storage and charging points for your mobile device. A refrigerated bottle cooler can be specified between the rear outboard seats, although this does slightly eat into the trunk space.
A fully kitted out Bentley Flying Spur will still require a hefty outlay over and above the base price, but as standard, it's nice to see that the City Specification - which bundles together a host of driver aids - is standard. It packs in features like traffic sign recognition, city assist, pedestrian warning, reversing traffic warning, blind-spot warning, and a rearview camera. Driver convenience is further aided by hands-free trunk opening and automatically dimming mirrors. As expected, four-zone climate control (with separate temperature controls for those at the back) is included, as is cruise control, soft-closing doors, push-button ignition, a refrigerated glovebox, power-adjustable rear window blinds, and front/rear parking sensors. Front and rear, the seats feature heating, extensive power-adjustability (24-way in front and 14-way at the back), ventilation, and massaging. The door armrests are heated, too. Upgrades include night vision, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display - these features are standard on the First Edition trim.
The new Flying Spur features a thoroughly modernized infotainment offering. In front, a digital driver's display is complemented by a central 12.3-inch high-definition touchscreen. The Flying Spur's party trick is the optional rotating display that can flip the infotainment screen and instead reveal a veneered panel that perfectly aligns with the surrounding dashboard design. Another flip of the display reveals three analog dials that feel more in tune with the cabin's grand, old-school charm. Another advanced feature is the rear Touch Screen Remote system, whereby passengers in the back seats can use a five-inch touchscreen that deploys from the rear console to control climate, seat, and audio settings. The setup includes Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto), a 60 GB hard drive, navigation, DVD/CD compatibility, Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio, a 4G LTE telephone module, and two SD card slots. While a ten-speaker Bentley audio system is standard, we expect many buyers to upgrade to either the 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen system or the 21-speaker Naim for Bentley audio system. A rear entertainment system with two 10.2-inch tablets and Bluetooth headphones can be ordered. Overall, it's pleasing that Bentley's spectacular craftsmanship now sits comfortably alongside the latest connectivity tech.
As the Flying Spur is a new model, it's too early to accurately assess its reliability. At the time of writing, no recalls have been issued for Bentley's latest sedan.
Although Bentley's warranty runs for only three years, there is no mileage limitation for that period. However, this can be extended for an additional two years at an extra cost. Roadside assistance is covered for the same period.
With its sky-high price and status as one of the world's poshest luxury cars, the Bentley Flying Spur is unlikely to be crash-tested by the IIHS and the NHTSA anytime soon, if at all. It's unlikely to be anything less than an utterly safe sedan that will protect occupants well in the event of an accident, though.
The Flying Spur's occupant protection system includes dual front airbags, side airbags front and rear, and curtain airbags front and rear. Other essentials are electronic stability control, traction control, and ABS/EBD brakes.
Bentley has bolstered its standard list of driver aids and now fits park assist, traffic sign recognition, city assist, front/rear park distance control, exit warning, blind-spot warning, pedestrian warning, and rear cross-traffic alert as standard. A rearview camera is included, too, and available extras are adaptive cruise control and a head-up display. These extras, along with night vision and lane assist, are standard on the First Edition.
A new decade feels like an opportune time to have introduced the 2020 Flying Spur, as the posh new sedan effortlessly blends the latest technologies with time-honored Bentley hallmarks like a lavish cabin, a serene ride, and a massively powerful engine. Outside, the Flying Spur oozes class and sophistication, with plenty of presence to set it apart from more common luxury sedans like the S-Class and 7 Series. The updated infotainment system is a success, as is the expansion of modern touch-sensitive controls to the rear of the cabin. As usual, the standard of craftsmanship leaves everything else behind and positions the Bentley up there with Rolls-Royce. Although other variants are expected in due course, the W12 engine does an astounding job of moving the heavy Bentley along at a rapid rate, while vanishing into the background when it should. Best of all, this is a grand sedan that can also be enjoyed when you'd rather leave the chauffeur at home. The Mulsanne may have departed, but the new Flying Spur proudly takes over as the British brand's flagship sedan.
At an MSRP of $214,600, the Bentley Flying Spur doesn't come cheaply. However, the Mercedes-Maybach S650 isn't far behind, and the Flying Spur does feel more special than that car. It's also nearly $100,000 less expensive than the outgoing, base version of the Bentley Mulsanne. The limited First Edition variant is even pricier and will cost you $259,335.
The Flying Spur's price excludes taxes, licensing, registration, and the manufacturer's destination fee of $2,725.
For now, the 2020 Bentley Flying Spur is only available in two trims: the W12 and the limited First Edition. Mechanically, the two models are identical. A 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged engine is good for 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, all-wheel-drive, and an air suspension with continuous damping control.
The imposing exterior design features full LED matrix headlamps, LED taillights, and W12 fender badges. Twin oval exhaust finishers and 21-inch alloy wheels complete the sophisticated look. Inside, a choice of 15 hide colors can be chosen from in the cabin that has power-adjustable and heated seats, seat massaging, four-zone automatic climate control, power rear sun blinds, and a 12.3-inch central infotainment display. The Flying Spur's safety specification includes park assist, traffic sign recognition, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic alert. A refrigerated bottle cooler, a heated windscreen, and a panoramic glass sunroof are available extras.
The First Edition throws in several optional packages as standard, introducing extra features like a head-up display, night vision, lane assist, and more luxurious trim. It also gets 22-inch wheels.
Bentley refers to its package upgrades as specifications. There are several Mulliner Driving Specifications, with the priciest of these going for $14,680 and adding diamond-quilted seats, a leather headlining, a special heated steering wheel, 22-inch alloy wheels, and three-dimensional leather door panels. At $8,385, the Touring Specification boasts night vision, adaptive cruise control, a head-up display and more. The Blackline Specification ($4,735) essentially replaces the exterior brightwork with more aggressive gloss black finishes, while the Diamond Knurling Specification adds diamond knurling to the air vents and more.
There is nearly no limit to the array of standalone options which includes the Mood Lighting Specification at $2,540 and the Naim for Bentley sound system at $8,800.
If you can still get your hands on the First Edition, it's bound to become a collector's item, so is one of the most desirable upgrades. Otherwise, the Mulliner and Touring specifications add a welcome combination of luxury and safety features to the standard specification. We'd also upgrade to either the Bang & Olufsen or the Naim for Bentley audio systems, and add the rotating infotainment display - not only does the latter feature just look incredibly cool, but it's surprising how pleasant it is to conceal the touchscreen display when all you want to do is get on with the process of guiding this supreme sedan down the road.
To be considered the best, you first need to conquer the best, and there is perhaps no loftier interpretation of automotive luxury than Rolls-Royce. The Ghost isn't even the most expensive offering, with the Phantom adding another $100,000 to the Ghost's base price. Although pitting such glorious machines against one another seems almost undignified, what we love about both is that although they are endlessly opulent four-door sedans, each feels thoroughly unique. Both have twin-turbo engines, the 563-horsepower V12 in the Ghost contrasting with the Flying Spur's 626-hp W12. The Bentley is quicker and a bit sharper from behind the wheel, while the Rolls is more mellow and possibly even more comfortable. But we're splitting hairs here: both are exceptional luxury sedans. Rolls-Royce offers an extended wheelbase version of the Ghost with even more rear-seat space, but both cabins are immaculately crafted. At nearly $100,000 less, we're siding with the newer Flying Spur here, but you can't go wrong with either of these two.
If you won't be occupying the back seat as much, the Continental GT coupe is worth considering over the Flying Spur. The price differential is negligible at over $200,000 for both, so we'll focus on each car's abilities here. The Continental GT offers the option of a twin-turbo V8 with 542 hp, but it's nearly as quick as the W12. Both cars deliver their considerable power in a gentle, composed fashion. The interior designs are similar, but the Flying Spur is obviously more practical, boasting much better rear-seat space, easier access, and a larger trunk. The sedan also has increased seat adjustments and more creature comforts for those in the back. Unless you must have a sleek coupe, the Flying Spur is a match for the Continental GT dynamically and offers much more practicality, so it's the one we'd choose if we were ever in the enviable position of making such a decision.
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