Bentley Flying Spur

Bentley Flying Spur lr1
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By Tim Saunders

Giving joy and happiness is extremely rewarding. I know because I do this with the Bentley Flying Spur. Not something I envisaged when I was given the opportunity to evaluate it.

A car loving friend of one of my daughters’ is celebrating his 10th birthday and I take him and his family for a couple of spins as it is only a four-seater. He wants to look under the bonnet and shows me how to do this for which I am grateful; in fact it is the children who show me the special features of this car. Fraser really enjoys the experience and discovers how the suspension can rise electronically. His father, Derek is 6ft 6 inches tall and soon realises that he can’t stretch out in the front. Nevertheless the whole family can’t help smiling at the wonderful V8 and its magnificent, quite literally breathtaking acceleration, which sees the seatbelts noticeably tighten. The first time this happens you wonder whether it will stop. The next time it takes place it is like a comforting embrace. It is quite phenomenal how much G force is delivered and is perhaps most exquisite from 0 to 30mph. It is a real pleasure to drive and push the accelerator to the floor. A Cheshire cat grin instantly spreads across my face. But sadly you can’t do that for too long because it will break all speed limits incredibly quickly.

Later, my wife Caroline and I collect a painting from sprightly 85-year-old Olwyn Bowey RA. “I do like that shade of green,” she says enthusiastically of the Bentley. Indeed the sage green contrasts beautifully with the black painted twin-spoke wheels. Although our meeting is primarily about art, the conversation returns to four wheels. “It’s not every day one of these is parked outside my house,” she smiles, keen to go for a ride. Rushing to shut her front door she dashes for the front passenger seat quicker than someone half her age. “I don’t think I mind being the elderly artist having a late life thrill in a powerful car, even down the local lane,” she says. “Quite a joke really — never having been near such a car.”  

We are fortunate that we have picked reasonably wide country lanes and this large beast drives like a smaller sports car, certainly outgunning most other vehicles with its four second nought to 60 time and its almost 200mph top speed. That rocket-like acceleration is second to none. We’re extremely lucky not to meet any tractors. But it is a lazy man’s automatic although there are paddle shifts either side of the steering wheel, for more engaging driving.  

This magnificent Flying Spur sports saloon with its strong design, reminiscent of classics of the past, costs £160,200 but when all the extras are added it rises to an eye-watering £201,300.

“If I received £200 for my 19 year, 111,000 mile Ford Fiesta diesel,” I say to the children. “How many Ford Fiestas like mine could you buy for this one Bentley?” Yes, 1,000. Imagine that. It does put things in perspective. Five years ago my wife and I sold our first home together, a two bedroom Victorian terrace in Southampton for not that much more. It’s enough to make Caroline worried about me driving it. “Relax,” I say confidently having driven hundreds of cars in my time including a Bentley and a Rolls Royce a decade ago. But she’s right I am more concerned about this vehicle than others. However, it is interesting to see that there is generally a healthy respect for the aristocratic Flying Spur from other road users, who politely wait for me to pass. That doesn’t happen in many other cars.

We don’t have a gate on our driveway and while I sleep like a baby at night Caroline does not for fear of the Bentley being stolen. The fear that comes with this car has to be overcome when driving it and if it can be it is extremely rewarding. “It’s just like driving a Golf in many ways,” the delivery driver tells me. And he’s right.  

“We’ve found out how to operate the Flying Spur ornament on the bonnet,” reveal Heidi (8) and Henry (5) proudly. So it goes up and down giving the troublemakers great entertainment. They have a knack of making this stately carriage behave more like a circus car. Great fun.

As we wait at the traffic lights Henry is busy playing about with the detachable touchscreen that resembles a smartphone in the rear. He is soon making the blind on the rear window go up and down like a Mr Bean sketch. In between the children wave at the lorry driver behind, who returns the gesture. Pedestrians crossing can’t help but try to glimpse who the driver and passengers are. Disappointed at not finding Rowan Atkinson or Jennifer Lopez inside, they continue on their way.

Lady Heidi and Lord Henry feel quite at home in the back of this opulent motor car. They enjoy the large panoramic glass sunroof that opens above the front seats. Older sister Duchess Harriett (10) is in the front passenger seat and quickly discovers how to adjust it to her liking. While they are all inquisitive and want to find out every luxury this vehicle has to offer they also have respect for the craftsmanship, which is encouraging.

A work of art both inside and out, the single tone cabin with its Cumbrian green leather seats, Portland stitching and piping is exceptionally comfortable and luxurious as you would hope. The rear headrests are more like pillows. There’s too much chrome for my liking and the keyfob provides even more bling for those millionaire rappers.

My favourite feature has to be the rotating display which makes the sat nav disappear and replaces it with three chrome dials, in a similar way to James Bond’s rotating number plates on his Aston Martin DB5. Another neat touch is how the doors can automatically close.

The Flying Spur turns a mundane journey into an occasion and what a wonderful experience for family and friends.

Facts at a glance

Bentley Flying Spur
Price: £160,200
 
Key options featured on this car include
Mulliner Driving Specification with Black Painted Wheel £11,580
Flying Spur Blackline Specification £3,620
Touring Specification £6,480
Mood Lighting Specification £1,945
Bentley Dynamic Ride and Electronic All Wheel Steering £5,885
Naim for Bentley premium audio system £6,725
Bentley Rotating Display £4,865
Total: £201,300
 
Specification
Engine: 4-litre V8
Power: 542bhp
0-60mph: 4secs
Top speed: 198mph
Economy: 22mpg approx
CO2: 288g/km

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