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The Touring Townhouse

Bentley rebuilds ITS family 4-door, chips off a name from the tag and lets it act on the motivation of an Audi-sourced blown-out V8. The result? The Flying Spur

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Published: Fri 20 Mar 2015, 6:30 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Jun 2015, 12:31 AM

You may think that those who live rich and lavish lifestyles have all things available to them, and all things made possible. Think again! Sure they will have access to all, but they will pretend to love what society thinks is best.

Take personal transportation for example: the aspiring middle-classers are not limited to the offerings from the upper echelons of German manufacturers. They can go cheaper &and count their pennies. However, those in the upper crest of society — the kind that bond over high tea, on a business day — have fewer manufacturers to choose from, namely Aston Martin, Rolls Royce and Bentley.

Today, we review a 2015 creation from one of those brands, one that wrote W. O. Bentley into the history books on January 18, 1919, when the company was founded. The car in question is their 4-door saloon — the Bentley Flying Spur.


First things first, Bentley has dropped the Continental moniker. For 2015, it’s simply known as the Flying Spur. It is a conspicuously large automobile with subtle but striking detailing that makes it as imposing to other carmakers as people with real money do to high-flying socialites. This is a step above full size — 5,299mm long, 1,455mm tall and 2,208mm wide. Even the wheelbase is an immense 3-plus metres long.

This may not be a coveted Mulsanne flagship, but even this baseline Bentley envelops you in a love for artistry, seen in the mingling of body panelling and crown jewel sort of detailing that you would expect on a car befitting a monarch. The 2015 model is basically a rendition of the original from 2005. The old car’s handsome proportions have hardly aged, yet they decided to give it a nip and tuck anyway, sharpening the creases to maintain visual essence for this day and age.

The fascia is as charismatic as George Clooney’s face, with jeweller-ised double-barrel bi-xenon headlamps, surrounded by encrusted diamond-like LED day-time running lights and a massive chrome-embellished matrix radiator grille. Then you have the red-enamelled Bentley ‘B’ badge on the hood and a black matrix grille at the lower front bumper, extending along the width.

The Flying Spur’s glazed architecture is borrowed directly from the Mulsanne, as is the shoulder line below it. And to remind one of its heritage, you have a B-shaped wing vent at the front side fender. A lovely touch!

The standard car runs on multi-spoke 19” wheels, but it doesn’t end there — 20” and 21” wheels with either the 5-spoke, 7-spoke or propeller-style 10-spoke alloys make up the other options. The signature double ovals on the rear lamps have been replaced by concentric ovals to maintain the distinction over the GT. Like a cherry atop a cream cake, the rear is topped off with V8-specific figure-of-eight exhaust pipes on either side.

Climb inside and leave the doors ajar, because there’s a hydraulic mechanism to close the doors completely — like a butler. The business end of things are on the insides, where wood veneer and leather become casual forms of celebrating financial freedom at the cost of a life of a 100-year-old oak tree, or fine-bred cattle. The interiors are quite ornate and you may feel like a bull in a china shop. Your new smartwatch will definitely seem out of place in the presence of the Breitling timepiece fixed atop the dash.

Genuine materials such as real metal air vents with organ pulls, double-stitched leather on the dash and knurled knobs on the centre console provide ultimate control over everything. Stamped with authority on a sporty 3-spoke steer is the winged emblem of the Bentley — a symbol of power, trad-ition and capitalism. Fancy two-tone interiors? Apart from the seats, the steering gets the treatment as well.

This car exists as a materialistic keepsake and for that &reason alone, there’s a multitude of materials to choose from, to make this as unique as you. There are 17 shades of genuine leather, quilted leather or ribbed, six of which are dual-tone. As for the wood, you have seven variations of veneers. Thirdly, the patch where you strike your heel is a lush deep-piled carpet that mimics the softness of a grassy meadow. It’s all very natural in here.

Another highlight of the cosseting interior is the so-called “cobra” style of leather panelling that gives the car a sporty, contemporary look. Superlatively comfortable, but — as with lighter shades of upholstery — hard to keep clean. In a chauffeur-driven car, the rear is the place to be. There is ample space and you saddle in quite nicely. Even the most statuesque human beings will find space back here to stretch a limb or two. One niggle we had was that the fold-down signatory table is too small for a laptop. Besides, I’m not sure how useful they can be while on the move. The Flying Spur, thanks to the way it is styled and moves, charms you to dress better and have better road etiquette. It even — dare I say — makes you a better person. Red carpet or not, you’d be walking on higher ground after you arrive in this.


The “Continental” nametag is not all it has lost — it also lost 4 cylinders and 2L of displacement. On the flip side, we have forced induction. This downsizing and use of supercharging technology goes against W.0.’s own slogan “There’s no replacement for &displacement”. Yet, here it is. Following in its coupe sibling’s (the Continental GT) footsteps, the Flying Spur is now available with a direct injection twin-turbo 4L V8, borrowed from Audi. This is the motor that powers the Audi S8, S7 and RS6 — so lawnmower machinery, this is not.

Accompanying the V8 motor &is a ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission with plastic paddle shifters that can be leather wrapped optionally. Shift times have been halved and &the transmission is capable of double down shifts when the throttle is opened up. Shifts are seamless, and work very well for this stately car, but the small, fixed paddle shifters can be awkward to operate.

The new Spur exploits a healthy 500bhp at 6,000rpm from the V8; and the car is ready to lunge forward with 660Nm &of torque available from as low &as 1,700rpm all the way to 5,000rpm. Yes, gentlemen, that is a torque curve that plateaus for half the rev-counter.

As composed as it may seem, this thing is drag-strip ready &and will claim 100km/h in 5.2 seconds. The W12 sibling is officially the fastest thing on four wheels and has four seats; this V8 variant won’t compare numerically, but it is every bit &as quick in the real world of potholes and bumps.

However, the apt nature of commute for this limousine is effortless wafting between 80 and 100 km/h which brings us to its plush ride quality achieved &by having the aluminium body placed on an underlying blanket of air suspension — it helps the car gently bounce over bumps.

But when you feel like giving it a go on a twisting road, it’s time to trade your leather gloves in for a racing helmet, a fire suit, and some courage. The 21” wheels and the 275-section rubber provide massive traction that, along with the rear-biased all-wheel drive, anchor the car, while the soft sprung suspension means you have to endure plenty of body roll, making this car rather entertaining to steer. In truth, the Spur prefers sweeping corners over frantic directional changes.

Stopping power comes from ventilated discs — 405mm at the front and 335mm at the rear. The kit works well, but the driver is intended to respect mass, momentum and physics in &general. Yes, Bentley claim 40 per cent more fuel-efficiency than its W12 &sibling, but it is far from being a Toyota Prius. That said, Bentley does have &the largest solar panel rooftop in &the UK. If you drive it like a vintage car — which you should — you may extract an economy of 10.9L/100km from the 90L tank.


The Flying Spur retails at about a &million dirhams, so you wouldn’t be flustered by the prices on the options list. But in keeping with the spirit of over-indulgent wealth, I think you should get them all!

The Flying Spur gets a premium &audio system from Naim, purpose-built for this Anglo-German auto manufacturer. It’s capable of putting out 1,100W of pure sound through the 10-speaker setting, and provides the perfect way to drown out the spouse by simply turning up the volume. It is also accompanied by a large hard drive for ripping music, iPod connectivity, a 6-CD changer with DVD compatibility, and an SD card slot.

The A/C, in tandem with the ventilated/heated seats, maintains the internal temperature regardless of the ambient condition, but the sound levels at full-blow could have been reduced. You also have a 10-cell pneumatic massage option that de-stresses you between meetings.

The 442L luggage space in this Flying Spur does not equate to its 5.2m length, but is enough as long as you don’t go furniture or plant shopping. There is an 8” touch sensitive infotainment screen via which you can access the hard drive based navigation system, but phone maps work better these days — plus the touch response isn’t the best.

On the safety front, you have blind spot and lane change warning, and a rear camera whose display can be adjusted for colour and contrast. Impressive. It’s becoming like your very own TV. Rear seat passengers don’t miss any of the fun either. They have dual 10” LCDs with their own DVD players, as well as media-card and USB inputs and wireless headphones.


With the 2015 Bentley Flying Spur V8, Bentley have tried to democratise their rolling sculpture of a family sedan. It still requires a windfall fortune to buy one; and alternatives like the BMW 760, &Mercedes S 65 AMG and Audi S8 are quicker and well-equipped, but the Bentley brings to the table a certain ‘it’ factor or je ne sais quoi — as the French would say — that gives it paramount &aspirational value.

So even if the wealthy have fewer choices, it seems they have the best of them, one way or another. 

By George Kuruvilla.

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