Bentley Flying Spur Makes APAC debut in Singapore

By Lee Pang Seng

BENTLEY enthusiasts in the Asia Pacific region had their first glimpse of the latest Flying Spur late last year in December in Singapore. The third generation of its family line, this model was launched some six months earlier in the UK and its launch in this part of the world was timed to ensure vehicle delivery would be progressively made from the second quarter of 2020.

The Flying Spur is in all sense the four-door Grand Touring sports sedan of the Continental GT but it does not carry the Continental name to stand out in its own right. While it might carry over some of the Continental GT’s styling details, Bentley nevertheless sees the latest Flying Spur as a new development from the ground up. After all, it is seen as an entirely new model of its own standing.

In that respect, Bentley has made enough changes to stamp an individual identity for each respective model. Yes, the four-headlamp look is retained; two large ones accompanied by two smaller ones that boast a cut-crystal effect LED (light emitting diode) matrix design.

The Flying Spur styling impact was immediate from the large gloss black radiator matrix with chrome surround and horizontal vanes that is a direct contrast to the chrome honeycomb grille of the Continental GT. The styling for the Flying Spur is an interpretation of an earlier one on the 1957 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur, which is hailed as an iconic model.

Coupled with the gloss black restyled apron underlining the front nose section, one could easily tell the difference between the two models at a glance. However, the lower matrix could also be specified in chrome when opting for a bespoke model to accommodate one’s individual whims.

Another significant detail also comes in the retractable Flying B mascot that adorns the bonnet. This is made available for the first time to the modern Flying Spur and in celebrating Bentley’s centenary year, the mascot is said to be restyled for the next century and is an evolution of previous designs. Being illuminated, it is linked to the welcome lighting sequence and keyless entry system as the driver approaches the car.

At the rear, the combination lights are also different to set the Flying Spur apart from the Continental GT. The large wraparound lights carry the familiar ‘B’ graphic as well as echo the diamond knurling of the interior air vents. That for the Continental GT is a lot simpler with a ring within a ring design, albeit in an elongated and oval sense.

There is also the dimensional aspect as the Flying Spur is a longer vehicle being a four-door sports tourer. Compared to the previous generation Flying Spur, the latest model sits on a 3194mm wheelbase that is 130mm longer. Put against the current Continental GT, the difference in wheelbase is far greater at 344mm.

Not surprisingly, its body length goes well above 5000mm at 5316mm (Continental GT overall length is 4805mm) and it is taller too at 1484mm against 1392. Naturally, it’s heavier as well at 2437kg (unladen) against 2252kg. Vehicle weight is nevertheless kept well in check with the new and advanced aluminium and composite chassis.

In body aerodynamics, there is no mention of that for the Flying Spur but it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that it would be around that for Continental GT, which is 0.29 Cd. As it were, the new Flying Spur looked slippery enough in body profile to knife through the air at high speeds on the open highway.

The Flying Spur shares the same top speed of 333km/h as the Continental GT while it is just a tad slower in accelerating from standstill to 100km/h; 3.8 seconds to 3.7. That’s because they have the same power base in the 12-cylinder W12 twin-turbocharged TSI engine. Based on the ‘W’ configuration, this engine is a lot shorter than the conventional V12 unit. This has advantages in the car’s weight distribution and maximising cabin space.

The engine is mildly undersquare in configuration with 84mm bore and 89.5mm stroke to displace 5950cc. It delivers 467kW (635PS) at 6000rpm and 900Nm of torque very early from 1350rpm to 4500rpm. The transmission is a ZF eight-speed dual-clutch automatic system. What sets the Flying Spur from the Continental GT is that it comes with the electronic all-wheel steering system to complement the active all-wheel drive and Bentley Dynamic Ride feature. The all-wheel steering system, adapted from a sister marque under the Volkswagen Group, is made available for the first time in a Bentley.

What this new steering system does is that during low speeds manoeuvres, it steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels. This leads to the effect of shortening the wheelbase, reducing the turning circle, increasing the agility and making parking a lot easier.

As to the all-wheel drive arrangement, it differs from the previous generation Flying Spur that is a permanent all-wheel drive with a fixed 60:40 front/rear power split. The new active drive clutched system apportions power accordingly to road conditions and wheel slip. Under good conditions, it delivers two-wheel drive to the rear wheels. When conditions get bad, it automatically sends drive to the front wheels.

Torque distribution varies according to the selected Driving Dynamics Mode. In Comfort and Bentley modes, the system sends 480Nm of torque to the front wheels for better grip and driveability. In Sport mode, the system limits available torque to the front axle to 280Nm to maintain higher torque for the rear axle and gain a more dynamic feel.

The Flying Spur is independently sprung all round with aluminium double wishbones in front and aluminium multi-links behind, along with a 48V active anti-roll bar front and rear. The 48-volt system controls an electronic actuator that manages the stiffness of the anti-roll bar according to demand to combat cornering forces. This improves driving dynamics significantly.

There are also the three-chamber air springs that contain 60 per cent more air volume compared to the previous Flying Spur. Bentley says this allows more scope to vary from sporting levels of spring stiffness to luxury limousine refinement depending on the mode selected.

The tyres fitted to Flying Spur unveiled at Bentley Singapore were the optional 22-inch Pirelli P Zero range, with the front size being 275/35 R 22 and the rear 315/30 R 22. The standard tyre sizes are similar to that for the Continental GT being 265/40 R 21 in front and 305/35 R 21 at the rear.

The new Flying Spur also shares the largest iron brakes with the Continental GT in the 420mm front discs. Both front and rear callipers carry the Bentley branding with the standard fit being gloss black. A gloss red finish comes as an optional item.

For the interior, Bentley boasts of the ‘finest handcrafted cabin’. The industry-first Bentley Rotating Display, first seen on the Continental GT, is also available in the Flying Spur. One could choose the seamless wood veneer fascia that flows around the cabin, the 12.3-inch touchscreen or a display with three analogue dials for outside temperature, a compass and chronometer.

The luxurious interior offers an extensive list of single or dual wood veneer options, new fluted leather seating and the unique Mulliner Driving Specification diamond quilting on the seats and three-dimensional diamond quilted leather door inserts that are acclaimed as an automotive world’s first. There is also the option of the interior being further enhanced with a panoramic glass sunroof that stretches the full length of the roof, which might not be feasible in our steamy Malaysian climate.

Like the Continental GT, there is a choice of three audio systems with the standard system featuring 10 speakers and 650 watts. The options come in the Bang & Olufsen 1500W 16-speaker system with illuminated grilles that benefits from the BeoSonic system and the ‘unique’ Naim for Bentley 2200W 19-speaker system with Active Bass Tranducers built into the front seats for the true audiophile. The latter comes with eight sound modes.

Another similar option offered is the Blackline specification with much of the exterior bright items being replaced by Blackline trim. As an indication of this option popularity, Bentley says since the beginning of 2019, 30 per cent of the Continental GT acquired belonged to the Blackline family.

We have had a taste of this luxury in the Continental GT during our drives with the two-door sports tourer in the Gold Coast, Australia slightly more than a year ago. We believe the Flying Spur would be just as impressive to motor and lounge around in.

For those who lean more to being environmentally friendly, Bentley looks set to introduce its first electric vehicle variant by 2025. And until that time, Bentley is also going to introduce a plug-in hybrid variant for each of its model range as a transition phase by 2023.