2014 Bentley Flying Spur Review 2

A second opinion on the Continental Flying Spur luxury saloon on MME from Fraser Martin who develops a real ‘taste’ for the chocolatey car

By Fraser Martin

2014 Bentley Continental Flying Spur review

Try as I might, I just could not get a handle on this big new Bentley at first.

It might have been the horrible weather I experienced on Friday afternoon when I should have been wafting along a clear road at something beyond the legal limit. Or it could have been the niggly little chores that needed to be done at the weekend when I’d rather be doing something else, like charging round the countryside at something beyond the legal limit! I’m not sure what caused it, but there was just no catch, no barb, no hook – nothing to get me properly involved.

And then this morning, early hours and the car looking resplendent from the good cleaning it badly needed, I got it.

It was the colour: Dark Cashmere, apparently.

2014 Bentley Continental Flying Spur review

This 2014 Continental Flying Spur is like a giant and delicious looking chocolate. Rich and dark and high octane cocoa on the outside; light, creamy and soft on the inside and with just enough walnut ripple going through the interior to remind you that whilst sweet is good, a bit of bitterness sharpens the appetite. Thoroughly traditional colours throughout, leaving you with a satisfying aftertaste in the comfort-food sort of way, like a cup of hot soup leaves you, on a chill winter’s day….

Too much? Well probably, but that is where the big Flying Spur left me. It was like putting on gloves or a well cared-for pair of shoes – Bentleys mould themselves around you, shrinking monstrous dimensions to fit comfortably and giving you the confidence to explore the periphery of their immense capability. It was almost too familiar, too intimate, and the edge that should have been there was smothered.

2014 Bentley Continental Flying Spur review

Softer than the Speed variants, the ‘standard’ Flying Spur is nevertheless well capable of lifting her skirts and hustling along. She is, after all, at 616hp, the most powerful saloon Bentley ever produced. What she does best though, is applying the 800Nm of torque to take away the drudge of commuting and make it so much more bearable.

There is oomph when it’s needed – instantly, thanks to lashings of power and the excellent eight-speed gearbox – that will take you to 100kph in only 4.3 seconds and on to a nonsensical 322kph, but it is the relaxed, almost silent cruising when you just need to get on with getting there, that really sets this Bentley apart. I could happily sit behind the wheel of one of these all day and feel none the worse for the experience. At 120kph, the W12 Bentley is barely above tickover and you’d be hard pressed to know it was even moving if you were relaxing in the back!

2014 Bentley Continental Flying Spur review

Despite having some adjustment on the suspension, the Flying Spur is still a bit of a softie at heart. It will tighten a line if you want it too, but it seems to concentrate more on getting the job done smoothly than getting it done with any alacrity. And that is probably as it is supposed to be – there are Speed variants if you want something a bit more tangible. Likewise, though there is a sport mode in the silky gearbox, there are no vulgar paddles to shift with: if you need these, could I just refer to the order book, Sir….? Given that the gross weight is only a well-stuffed suitcase short of three tonnes, it is definitely better that you can feel some of that when it is bowling along!

Returning to my concern, the car actually does, in a second analysis, suit its dark chocolatey paintwork: it is very traditional, very conservative and very Gentleman’s Club. With the interior lightened using matching hides for the roof lining, door caps, steering wheel trim and seats, there is almost too much buttery toffee around. And whilst I would worry about the long-term condition such a scrumptious colour scheme would live to, the brown dashtop, the dark carpets and the contrasting panels in the doors, pull the overall ambience just to the correct side of Barbara Cartland. Sweet, but not too sickly!

2014 Bentley Continental Flying Spur review

Externally, the robust shoulder line on the four door car has been reshaped to give a more muscled appearance to the rear quarters, and revised tail-light structures for 2014 are amongst the only really obvious clues to the new car being new. A larger smile on the front does nothing to reassure anyone seeing it in the mirror that the Flying Spur is benign and the relative silence with which the car despatches obstacles is quite sinister! Understated but very stylish ‘Flying B’ badges over the front wheel arches are a neat and subtle touch, and the dark paintwork does actually contribute to a sense of relentless power.

So, did I like the new Bentley Continental Flying Spur? Strangely, it is the first Bentley I have been in for a very long time that did not instantly grab me. It handled nicely enough, was certainly quick enough when asked to perform both in going and stopping departments, was faithful to directional input and generally did everything that was asked of it, with little fuss.

2014 Bentley Continental Flying Spur review

Was it involving? Not as much as I expected, and in truth, it may have been the wolf in sheep’s clothing colour scheme that caused the initial reservations, because once the weather cheered up and I could see clearly enough to press on a bit, the car was thoroughly capable of cheering me up, and did!

It is a strange thing that when testing cars as often as we do, we can still be influenced so easily by something as potentially bland as the wrong colour scheme, and of course, choosing is a purely subjective exercise – chance would be a fine thing for the day to come round where I will be specifying my own Bentley – but in this case, whilst the Continental Flying Spur as tested grew on me over the period, I could not quite shake off the belief that the car had been prepared for someone else.

When they eventually get this car, whoever they are, I’m sure they will be very happy with it: I would be too, but in different colours!

[Read Shahzad Sheikh’s previous review here]

2014 Bentley Continental Flying Spur review

2014 Bentley Flying Spur – The Specs

Price: AED894k ($244k) base; AED1.3million ($354) as tested
Engine: 6.0-litre W12, 616bhp @ 6000rpm, 590lb ft @ 2000rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, all wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 14.7/100km
Performance: 0-100kph 4.3 seconds, Top speed 321kph
Gross Weight: 2475kg


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