Bentley has indulged itself with much fiddling when it comes to its Grand Tourer portfolio. It’s all about offering its customers more choice, the firm says. As a result, some of it barely rates a second glance to those of us not inheriting a property empire - but when Crewe deigns to attach the word ‘Speed’ to one of its cars, it’s usually worth paying attention.
Now, the first thing to say about the Flying Spur Speed is that it’s not a return to the model’s first generation, where Bentley had a rummage around and managed to locate 50 additional horsepower to differentiate the flagship from its lesser siblings. The latest version gets 635hp, which is obviously ample, but no more or less than the W12 has been developing for some time. The 3.8 seconds it takes to hit 62mph and 207mph top speed are not game-changers either.
Instead, the chief selling point is that you can’t actually buy a ‘standard’ W12-powered Flying Spur any longer (production ceased in May) so if you want one and you’re not interested in the gin palace-spec Mulliner, the Speed is what you need to go for. And that’s important because Bentley insists that the performance-focused Spur is ‘one of the last models to feature the iconic W12 engine’ - i.e. there will never be a 6.0-litre follow-up to this generation. So if not now, when?
Moreover, it’s not like the Speed doesn’t enjoy bragging rights over the (admittedly epic) Flying Spur S. The V8-powered model trails its stablemate not just in cylinder count, but also power - the S is 85hp behind the new flagship - and is nearly half a second slower to 60mph, too. And if that’s not a deal-breaker for you, there’s the also sweet satisfaction of knowing that you’ve paid for the version drowning in kit.
Granted, you don’t get the wicked-smart electronically-controlled limited-slip diff that brought out the best in the current GT Speed - and that feels like a shame - but you do get the electric all-wheel steering that makes the Spur seem remarkably agile for its size - as well as Bentley’s rear-bias all-wheel-drive system and the Dynamic Ride setup that includes the all-important active anti-roll. Throw in the largest iron brakes in the world (also shared with the GT) and in all probability, the latest Flying Spur will live up to its name.
It ought to look the part, too. Sure, Bentley hasn’t bent over backwards with the restyle - the Speed gets a dark tint finish to the front grille, head and tail lamps, model-specific badges on the wing, and sits on unique 22-inch wheels - but the Flying Spur is already fabulously handsome. Plus there is always the prospect of the optional Blackline or Styling specification (the former, certainly, is pictured) if you feel the need to really stand out. But you will anyway, right? It’s a Flying Spur Speed, after all - and, while we don’t know the exact price just yet, you can expect to part with the best part of £250k just for the pleasure of owning one.
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