The 2021 Bentley Flying Spur W12 ultra-luxury sedan is here

By George Kuruvilla

Published: Thu 8 Apr 2021, 5:52 PM

For the rich and famous, the kind of people who have the privilege of shopping on weekdays and vacationing on weekends, vehicles to choose from are few and far between. This is simply because in the upper echelons of society, owning a car is not just about power, comfort and practicality, it is also about labels and exclusivity. Bentley, the famed automaker that just turned 100, is one of the few companies that caters to this niche. And today, we look at its all-new luxury four-door grand tourer, the 2021 Bentley Flying Spur.

First things first! For this generation, the ‘Continental’ middle name which it used to share with its 2-door sibling has been dropped. But everywhere else, it has gained.

The optics

The 3rd generation Flying Spur is a rolling exhibition of Bentley’s contemporary design language, also seen in the Continental GT sports coupe and Bentayga SUV. The new sedan is built on an entirely new platform that uses an aluminium and composite chassis, reducing the overall weight by 38 kilograms. And somehow with every generation, Bentley vehicles become more visually appealing than before; the Flying Spur is no exception. The stretched stately proportions matched with delicate strokes of sculpted surfaces and tasteful fixtures is a lesson in design aesthetics — one that magically marries simplicity with grandeur.

Mathematically speaking, the face of the car is 70 per cent grille and 30 per cent headlamps. But it works! The twin sets of cut-crystal effect LED matrix headlamps add that sparkle necessary for a car this class. And for the first time on a Flying Spur, the ‘Flying B’ mascot proudly displayed on the nose can be electrically retracted — this avoids temptations of larceny in thieves and even more so in jealous folk. You can also see the ‘B’ motif on the side fender and in the taillamp detail. While the Flying Spur’s sheer mass of metal gliding through the streets is a sight to behold, in the parking lots, this is bit like a bull in a china shop. Just hope that your neighbours share the same parking etiquette as you. Also, watch out for the curb. You don’t want to scratch those giant, but voguish wheels.

The interior of the Flying Spur is akin to the business class of an airline, reminding you of the now-redundant hobby of recreational travel, thanks to the pandemic. You don’t get on-call service, but you get an immensely spacious and insulated environment that can seat 4 or 5 individuals, depending on the configuration you choose. You are certain to appreciate the extensive use of authentic materials, such as natural leather, stainless steel and aluminium trims to populate the surfaces and fixtures. The tactility and textures here are far from plastic parts or faux materials we are accustomed to in regular cars.

But the pièce de résistance are the 3-dimensional diamond quilted leather doors inserts — world’s first. This kind of craftsmanship and complexity is only rivalled by the intricate work of Indian embroidery houses that famous European fashion brands employ to create their exorbitantly-priced garments.

Endless polarisation

Pay the price and you can choose from the standard palette of 17 exterior colours and 15 leather hides for the interior, including two duotone styles. Diamond knurling, standard on some controls, can be extended to the bullseye and centre vents. And there is a choice of three new open pore veneers, along with eight high-gloss veneers and seven Dual Veneers by Mulliner. And so on and so forth!

Technology, all around!

Press a button and the concealed wood veneer — that flows with the dash design — flips to show a 12.3-inch digital HD instrument or beautiful analogue dials. The metallic bezels finish seen on most fixtures give it that ‘golden touch’. While at the rear, a detachable touch screen remote control is the centrepiece of the rear cabin experience, allowing the master or madame of the house to operate all cardinal functions, including the blinds, climate control, rear seat massage functions, mood lighting system, etc.

The optional panoramic glass sunroof stretches the full length of the roof, flooding the living room-like cabin with natural light. For further relaxation, you can either chant your mantras or just get cossetted in the seats and listen to your podcasts via any of the three available superlative audio systems; the most expensive being the 2,200-Watt 18-speaker Naim system. Now, that is a private orchestra of sorts!

The duty of driving is assisted by systems like the Night Vision infra-red camera to warn you of that stray cat during untimely hours, Blind Sport Warning, Head-Up Display and a top view camera. All occupants can stay connected via the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi hotspot facilities.

Power to the people, rich people

Keeping this regal limousine rooted in tradition is its heart, a gargantuan 6.0-litre W12 with a generous serving of compressed air, thanks to the twin turbos. It is mated to a dual-clutch 8-speed transmission, which improves both acceleration and fuel economy by reducing transmission lag. It is like having your cake and eating it too! The newly revised TSI engine produces 626 bhp at 6,000 rpm and a colossal 900 Nm of torque that can be accessed from as low as 1,350 rpm all the way till 4,500 rpm — a bump in the output by 10 bhp and 150 Nm, respectively. This makes in-city driving and passing manoeuvres on the highway a breeze.

A deep plunge of the accelerator and you will be hurled from traffic light tranquility to a 100 kmph in just 3.8 seconds using a new launch control system, which almost sounds sacrilegious for this segment. And while few may attempt to achieve the supercar-rivalling 333 kmph top speed even on the German Autobahn, it surely makes for bragging rights at charity galas. Another significant improvement comes in the form of the new, 3-chamber air springs, which allow greater spectrum of suspension damping… from soft sprung waft-ability to appreciable body control during spirited drives. To up its dynamic abilities further, Bentley has employed Electronic All-Wheel Steering, within the traction of Active All-Wheel Drive and Bentley Dynamic Ride — the world’s first 48V electric anti-roll system — makes sure it is more of a driver’s car than any generation before it.

However, the highest possible pleasures are attained when you are coasting down Sheikh Zayed road, enjoying its plush ride and seamless power delivery. After all, it is advertised to reduce heart beats, not send you into a frenzy.

Final thoughts

Whether you are on the lookout for a competent luxury conveyance or a stamp of success on your life, you will not go wrong with the 2021 Bentley Flying Spur. Just remember to tip the valet. It is part of the culture you buy into when driving a Bentley.

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