RE: Bentley unveils all-new 635hp Flying Spur

RE: Bentley unveils all-new 635hp Flying Spur

Tuesday 11th June

Bentley unveils all-new 635hp Flying Spur

Runt of the litter or lord of the manor? We run the rule over Bentley's latest saloon



The Flying Spur is unique in Bentley's range because it is the only model that is subordinate. Bentley doesn't build a more expensive coupe than the Continental GT and it doesn't offer a fancier droptop than the Continental GTC. Nor will you find the Bentley wings on a posher SUV than the Bentayga. The Flying Spur, however, has always been a less grand and substantially less expensive four-door limousine than the wonderful, statesmanlike Mulsanne. I think that's why I and many other people have always eyed the Flying Spur with a degree of suspicion; even Bentley admits the Spur isn't the most Bentley limo it knows how to build.

Now that the firm has announced an all-new model, I wanted to get answers to two questions. First, is the new Flying Spur just a longer Continental GT with two extra doors? And second, is it anything more than a cheaper four-door saloon than the Mulsanne? Because by my reckoning, the Spur will continue to be the £200,000, leather-lined runt of the Bentley litter unless Crewe has decent answers to those two questions.

The brand's centenary year is also a fundamentally important one. For reasons partly of its own making but also because of the WLTP fustercluck that wrought havoc throughout the car industry last year, 2018 was one of the most challenging spells in recent memory for Bentley. Certain models were not being built and were therefore not being sold. In the words of CEO Adrian Hallmark, 'For half of the year in half of our markets, we weren't selling any cars'.


The first part of 2019 was spent tidying up that mess. Restructuring, in business-speak. Now it's all about growth; banking the sharp uplift in sales figures that will inevitably come now those manufacturing issues have been resolved and new models and derivatives are beginning to appear. V8 Continentals and Bentley's first batch of hybrids will emerge within the next few months.

Before either, though, we have the new Flying Spur. Since 2005 and across the first two generations (I'll humour Bentley on that one for now, although the first- and second-gen Spurs were really the same model facelifted) some 37,000 units found buyers, so while it mightn't be Bentley's cash cow the Flying Spur isn't a millstone either.

The new version is evidently part of the Continental family - just as previous versions were - because it shares not only a face with the latest GT and GTC but also their architecture and powertrain. That architecture has been improved on the Jurassic underpinnings of the previous Spur both in terms of technology and inherent rightness. The front axle line has been moved forward by 120mm but the car has only grown in overall length by the width of your thumb, which means the front overhang is now much shorter than before. The engine has also been moved rearwards, improving weight distribution. (As an aside, those changes to the car's proportions also elongate what Bentley calls the 'prestige mass', which is the distance between the front axle and the base of the windscreen. It's one of the things that makes a car appear grand and imposing.)


In terms of new chassis and powertrain technologies, the list is so long I'll have to choose only a few highlights or risk clogging PH's servers. There is four-wheel drive like before, of course, but the new system is intelligent and can send power to exactly where it'll be put to best use, rather than slavishly sending 40 per cent to the front axle and 60 to the rear. Most of time the twin-turbo W12 will power the rear axle only, sending drive forwards only when it's needed. There's torque vectoring across the axles, too. For the first time the Spur features all-wheel steering, making the car more manoeuvrable at low speeds and more stable in very sudden direction changes at higher speeds. The transmission is an eight-speed dual-clutch item rather than a conventional auto.

The air springs are three-chamber, which means there's a very high volume of air within them, improving ride comfort and allowing a much more noticeable step change between Comfort mode and Sport, while a 48-volt active anti-roll bar system, called Bentley Dynamic Ride, decouples the bars when driving in a straight line to improve ride quality. The latter two items are both borrowed from the Continental GT, but retuned specifically for the Spur with a view to comfort more than sportiness.

Power is rated at 635hp and torque at 664lb ft. The 6-litre 12-cylinder engine, built in Crewe, can shut down half its cylinders when they're not required, which contributes to a 15 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency. The 0-62mph time, as if it matters, is 3.7 seconds and the top speed 207mph. This new Spur is fractionally lighter than the old one.


Bentley's Director of Body and Trim Engineering Simon Blake describes the new model as a 'quantum leap' over the previous one in terms of technology and performance. He didn't quite say existing Spur owners upgrading to this latest generation will feel like Noah stepping from his Ark and onto Alisher Usmanov's Dilbar, but I read between the lines.

On more than one occasion during the Flying Spur's unveiling at Bentley's Crewe headquarters, the car was described as 'part sports sedan, part luxury limo'. Perhaps that's how it's more than just a cheaper, slightly smaller alternative to a Mulsanne: whereas that car has no sporting pretensions whatsoever and instead only wants to cosset and relax its occupants, the Spur should be a decent steer, in its own way. Director of Chassis Engineering Florian Sprenger calls it a 'GT-type car with a sporting edge and four doors.'

'Yes it shares some components with the two-door models, but with this car we've put a great emphasis on comfort,' he goes on. 'We've stretched the chassis systems in a different direction to the two-door cars. We also have different wheel sizes, different bushes to give additional compliance and obviously the calibration is about making it more comfortable. But it still has dynamic capabilities - that is the greatest benefit of the chassis systems. You can have both comfort and sportiness. You don't need to compromise in one direction.'


He also points out that with rear-wheel steering the new Spur is far more manoeuvrable in town than the somewhat unwieldy Mulsanne. And I think that goes most of the way towards answering both of my earlier questions: it's more than just a longer Continental GT with four doors because its unique chassis tuning dials up the comfort, and it's more than just a cheaper, smaller Mulsanne because by retaining at least some degree of nimbleness, it has a very different dynamic character. Fair enough in both instances, I reckon.

The longer you stare at the Spur's cabin the more differences you see between it and the GT's cockpit. The rear half is completely different altogether, of course, and far more spacious, and up front the central air vent design is new. According to Bentley's Design Director Stefan Sielaff only a few parts have been carried over. By and large, however, the Spur's cabin very similar in feel and appearance to the GT's. No bad thing given the Continental's interior is a masterpiece.

And outside? 'The only carry over parts exterior are the door handles and mirrors,' says Sielaff. 'Everything else is individually done for the Flying Spur. When we developed the design we did the whole family in parallel - GT, GTC and Flying Spur. We discussed whether we should do something completely different with the Spur's design and we did create some different design models, but we agreed with the board there should be a strong family feeling between them.


'But don't misunderstand; the headlights, for example, are completely different to the Continental GT's, not only internally but also from the geometry. The grille is completely different as well. It's like this: in a family there is a resemblance, but we don't all look exactly the same.' To my eye it's the most handsome Flying Spur yet, although that's hardly the kindest thing I'll say about a car this year given the earlier versions were so unusually proportioned they were better known to many by the epithet Flying Spud.

So there you have it. I'll go ahead and assume it still isn't the Bentley you long to own, although the new Flying Spur is at least something more than a longer Conti GT, or a cheaper Mulsanne.


 







Author
Discussion

sinbaddio

Original Poster:

1,340 posts

118 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
The current range of Bentleys have a fantastic elegance about them, a great evolution.

BigChiefmuffinAgain

110 posts

40 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
I think you only have to look at the grill to know who they think their target market is....

Equus

6,066 posts

43 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
BigChiefmuffinAgain said:
I think you only have to look at the grill to know who they think their target market is....
Indeed.

Vertical bars, not the traditional Bentley diagonal mesh?

GingerPixel

74 posts

88 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
The new Conti is a much better looking thing than the previous one, but for me a big saloon like this is much cooler.

Turbobanana

1,363 posts

143 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
PH said:
... I and many other people have always eyed the Flying Spur with a degree of suspicion...
Have you really? And who are these 'other people' of which you speak?

I suspect people either view this as an object of desire or loathing. But not suspicion.

I think it's lovely... apart from the front, which looks like an unhappy fish being asked to pose for a photoshoot.
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Burwood

12,437 posts

188 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
The interior is on another level to the competition. Not a fan of wood but that looks stunning




cookie1600

1,143 posts

103 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
Will it depreciate as quickly as it accelerates?

GingerMunky

763 posts

199 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
Bentley are in a great place right now design style. Love this.

Burwood

12,437 posts

188 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
cookie1600 said:
Will it depreciate as quickly as it accelerates?
Odds are it will. 50% in 3 years? Theres a V8 MY17 for sale at £69K

je777

247 posts

46 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
That is one flat nose - from side on it looks like it's run into a wall.

I'll echo the dislike of massive grills that is plaguing so many cars right now. (Perhaps manufacturers could come to an agreement that they all make their cars with non-ridiculous grills. The nouveau-riche would still buy them.)

NicoG

507 posts

150 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
Looks great, and makes the Ghost look rather dated, (as one may expect given it's been in production for a decade).

It should sell well, and even when the RR2X come in 2021, it'll be pitched £50K or so above this, at the Mulsanne I guess, so this is sitting pretty against the S-Class.

In 10 years they'll be £18K though... smile

rare6499

249 posts

81 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
Absolutely mega car. 207 mph in that interior....well done Bentley. I think it looks superb. Front end isn’t quite as spot on as the side and rear profiles but overall this is a handsome car.

TWPC

624 posts

103 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
je777 said:
That is one flat nose - from side on it looks like it's run into a wall.

I'll echo the dislike of massive grills that is plaguing so many cars right now. (Perhaps manufacturers could come to an agreement that they all make their cars with non-ridiculous grills. The nouveau-riche would still buy them.)
+1

Apart from the grille I think it looks good.

Given the bonkers specs of most Bentleys since the VAG takeover (have any had less than 500hp?), the launch of this new one sends me rushing to the classifieds to look for old Flying Spurs for less than £30k. I know it's silly but surely the definition of 'a lot of car for the money'.

For example... https://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/...

Macboy

412 posts

147 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
This looks to be the transition from "runt" (who uses that kind of language for a £150,000 car?) to flagship 4 door as there is no clear plan for a Mulsanne replacement, the V8 is ancient and the cost of re-engineering the car for a new powertrain would be astronomical and no one buys them. Despite the praise heaped upon the Mulsanne as "the last of the proper Bentleys" very few people want one, they are sold at massive discounts and dealers fear having them in stock. This surely must be the car that eventually replaces the Mulsanne in the range while it quietly dies or becomes a "to order" Mulliner only product at huge cost.

I like the new car a lot. I think it looks great both inside and out.

sidesauce

925 posts

160 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
Macboy said:
the V8 is ancient
IIRC I believe the first version of the current Mulsanne's engine was introduced 60 years ago, way back in 1959...!

Amirhussain

10,981 posts

105 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
Oh yes cool

CDP

5,670 posts

196 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
The grille is too wide, somehow it makes the car look fake...

silverfoxcc

5,334 posts

87 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
Grill spoils it 100%

My grandson could have designed a better one. Bentley should be ashamed

je777

247 posts

46 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
CDP said:
The grille is too wide, somehow it makes the car look fake...
Like a Chinese fake Bentley.

What could they have been thinking?

Augustus Windsock

1,692 posts

97 months

Tuesday 11th June
quotequote all
Agree with many others in here, a lovely thing that is ‘spoiled’ by that front
The headlights look like one of those fish that are sometimes dragged up from the deep ocean, and as pressure decreases their eyes start to bulge
As for the size of the (non-traditional) rad? I guess it’s an easy way to reduce a tiny bit of weight from the front, as fresh air weighs nothing (I’m waiting for the pedants of physics to say I’m wrong btw!) and I’m supposing that the larger the grill then the more fresh air there is inbetween the grill slats etc... I know what I mean!
A final thought; I always thought a limo was for the rich to be seen in. With the small window area between the roof and the bottom of the windows I’m guessing that said pleutocrats won’t have a great view out, to the same extent that we plebeians can’t see them.