Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila
SINGAPORE — Larger yet lighter, sporty yet luxurious, powerful yet fuel-efficient. The dichotomies come, well, fast and furious in the third generation of Bentley Flying Spur. First launched globally in June this year, the four-door Bentley is now poised to gradually roll out to the Asia-Pacific market as the UK car maker formalized its entry into the region with a launch in this city.
Riding on the same MSB platform as its Continental GT sibling and extended family member Porsche Panamera, the Flying Spur is touted to be vastly different from its outgoing precursor. In a release, Bentley declared that this new Flying Spur boasts about 2,000 changes — all perhaps leading to the vision of making it the epitome of “sports sedan agility and modern limousine refinement.”
In an interview with Velocity, Bentley Motors Communications Director Wayne Bruce, on hand for the launch, said that he thinks the four-door grand tourer “is the world’s fastest sedan,” while simultaneously not making much of it. Bentley claims an electronically governed top rate of 333kph. Now that goal was an important one, specific one. Mr. Bruce shares that 333kph is an important figure in Germany to be accepted in the super sedan class. With that, he comments, “I’ve been told by engineers it could go faster.”
The aforementioned new platform allowed Bentley to move the front axle forward by 130 millimeters — extending the Flying Spur’s wheelbase. In turn, this made possible an increase in “Prestige Mass,” or what designers call the “visible area of sheet metal between the front-door shutline and the wheel — bestowing the new model with its unique, more dynamic character.”
The new Flying Spur sheds 38 kilos from the weight of the second generation, owing to all-aluminum exterior panels. In fact, the “rear body side panel is the largest superformed aluminum panel in any car you can buy today.” Bentley employs its own method to create the panels — involving heating sheets to more than 500 degrees Centigrade before each part is cut to shape by a high-power laser.
Bentley’s famous W12 engine — or, rather, the newest iteration of it — dwells under the hood. Even if the name is the same, Mr. Bruce maintains this is a “completely new design” which is 15% more efficient than its forebear. This is made possible as the system shuts off six cylinders when not needed.
The 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged heart delivers 635ps at 6,000rpm and 900Nm from 1,350 to 4,500rpm — enabling the Flying Spur to reach 100kph from standstill in 3.8 seconds. Here’s a bit of trivia from Mr. Bruce: Bentley guarantees the windshield wipers to work at 333kph.
For the first time, the all-wheel drive Flying Spur will now have all-wheel steering as well. Despite its 5.18 meters length, the vehicle will display a tighter turning circle in low speed as the rear wheels move opposite the front pair. Meanwhile, when at high speed the rears will turn in the same direction for “increased nimbleness.”
“There are certain characteristics that our customers and our future customers want and demand from a Bentley because it’s a Bentley. There’s the handcrafted-ness; there’s the beautiful, elegant, understated design. There’s power you just take for granted — effortless power when you want it. This car is not loud like a McLaren, for example,” Mr. Bruce shares with this writer. “Increasingly, because Bentley owners use their cars as a daily driver, they expect all the modern technology accessible to them, which is why one of the big differences between this car and its predecessor is driver assist systems (it has around a dozen).”
At the front, the Flying Spur exhibits undeniable heft and presence, and is unmistakably Bentley — aided by muscular lines “that sweep over the haunches and the full length of the car.” For the first time in the model, the Flying B hood ornament (which has been redesigned for the company’s centenary) is retractable. It is electronically deployed and illuminated — linked to the welcome lighting sequence and keyless entry system as the driver approaches the vehicle.
The grille bears a gloss-black finish with chrome surround and vertical vanes calling to mind the 1957 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur. Customers may choose either black or bright chrome in the lower grille.
Headlamps feature LED matrix lighting as standard. This allows the driver “to operate on main beam all the time, automatically cutting a hole in the beam around oncoming vehicles to avoid dazzling other drivers. Matrix headlights feature unique, cut-crystal effect detailing. A chrome sleeve was added behind the cut element, making them sparkle even when not lit.”
Again, owing to its vaunted “duality,” the Flying Spur promises that “passengers in the rear enjoy exactly the same standard and quality of experience as those in the front.” A multi-functional five-inch color touchscreen remote control is mounted in the rear atop the center console. It “integrates seamlessly into the console but can be removed at the touch of a button for remote use,” allowing backseat passengers control over many of the car’s features such as the window blinds, climate control, and rear seat massage function.
When unoccupied, the front seat can be moved forward by the rear passenger for more space. Key vehicle data can also be pulled up, and control to the audio system, mood lighting, and key sections of the navigation system is possible as well.
Customers will have their druthers from among three audio systems. The standard has 10 speakers and 650 watts of sound; a Bang & Olufsen steps it up with 16 speakers (with illuminated grilles) and 1,500 watts of sound; then the Naim for Bentley delivers 18 speakers (with two active bass transducers) and 2,200 watts of sound — in addition to a 21-channel amplifier, eight DSP sound modes, and illuminated speaker grilles.
All-new seats, covered in handstitched “3D leather,” offer heating and cooling, active bolsters, and top tilt to support the upper back. Impressive 14-way adjustment and five massaging modes, among other accoutrements, are available. Rear occupants also get entertainment tablets situated on the back of the front seats — giving them access to the Bentley Multimedia System. The devices can access the Google Play store and feature their own internal memory.
Of course, vehicles at this price point offer bespoke options. “We’ve also tried to broaden the breadth of how the car looks,” Mr. Bruce declares. There are 17 colors in the standard exterior palette. If that’s not enough, an extended palette offers an additional 40-something hues. There’s a so-called black-line trim, various color splits and even different-colored hides.
And if the plethora of choices prove overwhelming, Bentley comes to the rescue by offering “co-creation” through retailers. “You can meet with a Bentley designer to sit with you,” he explains. This designer will get a sense of what the customer wants through his or her lifestyle and choices. He might ask for the kind of hotel the customer goes for or even preferred food. “They’ll come up with what they think should be your Flying Spur.”
For now, the Flying Spur will get the storied W12, but talks are rife about it getting a V8 sometime in the future. When asked about it, the executive replies with a smile, “You could guess that a V8 could be in or plans; we haven’t said when. You could also guess that we’re working on a plug-in hybrid.”
What is sure is that every Bentley model (including the Flying Spur, of course) by 2023 will have an electrified variant, and that a pure EV will be released in 2025.
There’s no hard stop as of yet for the beloved W12 — and the internal combustion engine, for that matter — but Mr. Bruce did offer up valuable insight: “We can see the world is changing. We don’t want a luxury car to go the way of the fur coat.”
Bentley Manila shared with Velocity that Filipinos can expect the all-new Flying Spur in Manila “around March” next year, and the distributor is already taking reservations. And, yes, there are already names on that list.