As automotive luxury becomes ever more democratised (think heated leather seats in Honda Civics and 10-speaker Bose audio systems in Mazda 3s), carmakers on the upper rungs of exclusivity must push the envelope ever further to stay relevant. To wit, Bentley’s 2014 Flying Spur: a grand sedan that is larger, more opulent and faster than the large, opulent, fast car it replaces.
Stylistically, the car moves away from the Continental GT coupe (and, fittingly, drops the “Continental” forename) and noses into territory occupied by the marquee’s flagship, the Mulsanne, with a more upright grille, a sweeping roofline and tapered haunches. No surprise, the new Flying Spur makes use of the Continental GT Speed’s twin-turbocharged 6-litre W12 engine. The power plant, essentially two narrow-angle V6s that share a common crankshaft, spins out 616 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, delivered to all four wheels through a new 8-speed automatic transmission. At 5,451lbs, the Flying Spur is no lightweight, but 60mph nonetheless arrives in a scant 4.3 seconds, and with a determined right foot, the big sedan will press on to 200mph – figures that top the outgoing car by 0.6 seconds and 6mph, respectively. And yet, despite this prodigious oomph, Bentley claims the new Flying Spur will better the fuel economy of its predecessor, returning 12mpg in town and 20mpg on the open road.
Seating for five is standard, but a four-passenger option gives a full-length centre console with additional storage (fancy a Champagne cooler?). Personalisation, as with all Bentleys, is fairly limitless. Buyers can pick from well more than 100 exterior colours, along with 17 shades of leather and a dozen varieties of polished wood veneer trim. Outside, a new 19-inch wheel set sports either bright-painted or diamond-turned finish, but other options include 20-inch 5-spoke, 21-inch 6-spoke, 21-inch 10-spoke and, with the Mulliner Driving Specification package, 21-inch, 2-piece 5-spoke wheels with a painted or polished finish. Simply stated, the Flying Spur buyer is more likely be elected pope than to roll up alongside an identical Flying Spur.
With the recent demise of the second iteration of Daimler’s Maybach marque, and with it its grand 57 and grander 62 sedans, the Flying Spur exists, along with the refreshed-for-2013 Rolls-Royce Ghost, in a class of two. Bentley will officially unveil the 2014 Flying Spur at the Geneva motor show in early March, and will announce pricing later this year.