Last year, the Bentley Flying Spur dropped Continental from its name, but it lost nothing when it came to showcasing British luxury performance motoring at its best. Well, this year it loses something else…4-cylinders from its signature W12 engine. So, let’s see if less turns out to be more.
Yes folks, as much as we hate to admit it, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. That’s where this 2015 Bentley Flying Spur V8 comes in.
For some, 12-cylinders pumping in harmony to produce glorious amounts of power is just more than they can handle or perhaps wish to pay for.
But this is no lightweight V8 we’re talking about here. It’s Audi’s aluminum 4.0-liter twin-turbo unit that, after some unique Bentley tweaks, performs some internal combustion magic of its own, pulling 500-horsepower and 487 lb-ft. of torque. That may be over 100-horsepower less than the W12, but with 100-pounds of weight also removed from the front end, it should translate to a more enjoyable experience at the track.
So we “suited up” in proper Bentley fashion and made haste to our test facility. And unless you’ve recently driven the W12 Flying Spur, you’d be hard pressed to notice a difference in acceleration, as this thing just flat takes off. There’s gobs of power off the line, and rear-biased all-wheel-drive to apply it.
Power continues to build in a very linear fashion, and 60 miles-per-hour arrives in just 4.6-seconds. That’s only a tenth off our time in the W12. The 8-speed automatic transmission provided smooth and fast shifts, and in 12.9-seconds, we were at the end of the ¼-mile with the needle pointing at 111 on the speedo. So, unless you absolutely will settle for nothing but the best or are always in a real hurry, there’s not much need for the 12.
At 5,300-pounds plus, there’s still a lot of weight to hustle through the cones. But this Flying Spur does so with surprising agility, though you want to make sure suspension is at its firmest setting to keep body roll at a minimum. You can find both under and over steer should you go looking, but initiating either requires some very aggressive inputs with the wheel or with the throttle.
Even more amazingly, bringing this 2½-ton dreamliner to a halt from 60 happens in just 107-feet, with smooth and steady stops that belie the frictional ferociousness that is transpiring behind this car’s 21-inch painted alloys.
Though technically no longer part of the Continental family, the Flying Spur sees similar exterior embellishments to last year’s Continental GT Coupe V8. That means it’ll take a keen or perhaps distinguished eye to spot the dark finish to the grilles, red background of the flying B logo, and figure-8 shaped exhaust finishers.
There’s always lots to love when you’re talking about Bentley interiors. Now, we can’t say this Newmark tan motif would be our first choice in color as we prefer to leave the saddle-brown theme to our pickups, but material quality and finish are every bit as exquisite as you would expect.
Amenities include beautiful Eucalyptus wood veneer, picnic trays, Naim for Bentley Premium Audio, refrigerated bottle cooler, massaging seats, full length center console with seating for just two in the back, dual LCD screens, and a remote to control most of the cars functions from the back seat.
If you’re smart enough to send the chauffeur home for the day and take up residence in the front seat, you’ll agree that this may be the best handling close to 3-ton sedan out there. It does indeed feel massive, but highly capable and stable. Just plan ahead a bit for turns as there’s no dartiness to it.
While this basic chassis has been around for quite some time, and we wonder just how much further corporate parent Volkswagen can go with it, does the average luxury buyer really care about any of that? Probably not, and you won’t either. Just relax and enjoy the ride.
Despite the smaller V8 engine, there’s still a gas guzzler tax, as Government Fuel Economy Ratings come in at 14-City, 24-Highway, and 17-Combined. Our average of 18.0 miles-per-gallon of Premium was around 8% better than we achieved in the W12 Flying Spur. That still makes for a very poor Energy Impact Score however, burning through 19.4-barrels of oil per year while expelling 8.5-tons of CO2.
Priced about $20,000 under the W12 at $200,245, it may be the everyman’s Flying Spur, but it’s still not for every man or woman; more for those with the necessary “funds” be they trust, hedge, or otherwise.
Much as in the Continental GT Coupe, the V8 engine in the 2015 Bentley Flying Spur sedan makes for a better overall car. Sure, in the luxury realm there is always an accepted space for prestigious overkill. But as far as we’re concerned, this is a case of less is more.
Engine: 4.0 liter
Torque: 487 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 4.6 seconds
1/4 mile: 12.9 seconds @ 111 mph
EPA: 14 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 19.4 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 8.5 tons/yr