Having experienced the Bentley Continental W12 at Kirkistown Race Circuit at a press launch a number of years ago, as seen in UsedCars NI Magazine, I was keen to see what its bigger brother had to offer.
Fresh from the factory in Crewe, England with just under two thousand miles, the 2015 car given to us via Charles Hurst Specialist Cars on the Boucher Road in Belfast ticked all the boxes required and once all the paperwork was out of the way and a briefing on all the controls and mannerisms had been completed, I set off for my obligatory lap of the Lisburn Road.
The first thing I noticed, which was the first thing most who seen it in person commented on, was the highly unconventional damson hide, one of the seventeen colours available for the hand upholstered interior with colour co-coordinating deep pile carpet and over mats.
On entering the car, the above can be compared to stepping into the drawing room of a manor house while resting in the Lord of the manor’s very own armchair. Normally when test driving a car I would comment on the comfort and style of seat, well the Flying Spur offers sofa like comfort and support.
The heated settings were as expected, simply perfect and there is an option for cooled and massaging seats. The front and rear seats offer enough space for giants and can all be moved independently and electronically from buttons on the side of each seat.
The rear also offers a removable panel that controls the heating meaning those in the rear can control the climate inside this super luxurious sedan. Being in Mulliner specification, the interior featured diamond quilted stitching throughout with perforated hide, drilled alloy sports pedals, knurled sports gear knob, jewel fuel and oil filler caps with a few extra finishing options and touches throughout.
The only real downside of this car for me was the infotainment system, it compared to my 8 year old Passat estate which is great in the Passat but not a car costing around £170,000 (after a plethora of options have been ticked on this test car).
The touch screen system is very outdated and basic while the speakers were, well let’s not go there, other than to say the “Naim for Bentley” premium audio upgrade at £5,835 would be the first option I would tick when ordering a new Flying Spur.
Outside the designers have kept this Bentley smooth with sharp new edges to accentuate just how beautiful the curves and lines of this big car really are. The front end features the signature Bentley radiator grill and what have become the infamous dual round headlamps.
With over one hundred paint colours available, and even duo options this is one car that is hugely customisable and indeed if you have a colour that you have fallen in love with, be it a colour on a new watch or the casing of a pen, bring it in and Bentley will match that colour to the outside of your Spur.
When it comes to luxury, we often think calm, collected and sophisticated and maybe this is right as luxury is something that has to be appreciated and enjoyed over time but when the horses were selected from the Bentley Stable for this Flying Spur, things got sophisticated for sure, but it was a hillside away from being calm and collected.
In fact the 6.0 litre W12 engine in the model tested is a feat of engineering that has been about for a long time with revisions and updates along the way, and in fact on a steady cruise will shut down one bank and run on six cylinders for economy, however when the throttle is pressed hard, its like thunder passing through a rainbow.
By that I mean it’s something that you just don’t expect, like taking that one crazy friend to a black tie dinner as a plus one, all will be well and look fantastic but at some point, you know things are going to get wild and a dance floor will be created from a table top.
That’s how it feels with the W12, WILD; pushing 616bhp via its twin turbos through the all wheel drive 40:60 front to rear torque split drive train. It will reach 60mph in a staggering 4.3 seconds and has a top speed of 200mph. On our combined drive over two day an average consumption of around 18mpg was achieved.
The eight speed automatic gear box with paddle shift added to this model, was an absolute joy, smooth and barely noticeable, it just worked away and done what needed in the most efficient and professional way it could so as not to let anyone know, feel or hear what was going on underneath.
Fast luxury is the name of the game and I possibly understand part of its name, “Flying” Spur! However at just shy of two and a half tonne in weight, it’s one heavy car and indeed this can be felt via the brakes, without the ceramic upgrade the brakes take a little time to kick in and if being driven in a highly spirited fashion they would get warm very quickly.
With its self leveling air suspension the Flying Spur is more than capable of propelling its occupants at high speed along an A or B road with ease and pure comfort aided by its adjustable settings via the touch screen system on the dash. I was truly amazed by the agility of the Spur for its size and weight, most certainly an athlete in a larger body.
THE FLYING SPUR IS TO ROADS WHAT SAMSON & GOLIATH ARE TO HARLAND & WOLFF SHIP YARD, AN IMMENSE PRESENCE!
Words & Photos : Graham Curry