A British luxury machine dipped in green has something fundamentally right. The colors may change, but somehow the historical truth is that it only ever works. From the moment I saw the Bentley Flying Spur 2020 you see here in Verdant for the first time, I felt that everything was fine in the world. (Editor’s note: This was months ago when optimism was still possible.)
- Surprisingly clever handling
- Limitless power
- Loaded with technology and functions
- Championship level comfort
I do not like it
- The W12 is certainly thirsty
- Old back seat tablets
But the clean look of this car is not just about the paint, it’s also about the trim. This car has the so-called Blackline specification, which darkens the typical brightness of the machine and creates a subdued, modern look.
So it’s a mix of old and new, and that’s the moral of the story here with the 2020 Flying Spur: a classic brand that brings a modern sedan into a world that’s increasingly full of SUVs – machines like the bigger Bentley, the Bentayga.
How can a car like the new Flying Spur keep up? It’s a bumpy road to climb on, but it starts well with an overall design that’s striking and dynamic, with no clues to grab your attention. Yes, these infinitely faceted headlights are anything but subtle, but somehow they look even less glaring when wrapped in dark trimmings.
These lights and nose are like the one you see, Preview back to the and look at least as good here on a four-door body. Here it is the stronger, sharper lines that distinguish the Flying Spur, especially the crease that defines the rear fender.
The clues are known enough to make the “Bentley” text on the back unnecessary, but the Flying Spur has its own unique shape on the outside. Inside, things are a bit more familiar – even traditional – with the usual quilted Bentley leather and knurled switchgear that’s easy to find. It’s a cliché, but while you won’t find anything uncomfortable inside, it doesn’t mean that everything is perfect.
Yes, everything from the weighted metal pistons to adjust the vents to the beautiful 3D leather door cards is great, but part of the technology here is problematic. There are three tablets in the rear seats, and the two outer Android Lollipop – now six years and six versions old. Their outdated, chunky interfaces are a stark contrast to the modern phone that an average resident would wear in the back seats, but they’re the only way to access the car’s infotainment system through the (otherwise outstanding) rear seats.
The Flying Spur’s infotainment system is functional and clean and offers most of the modern functions you would expect, such as passable voice recognition and, but unfortunately no . The best thing about the Bentley system, however, is that the entire 12.3-inch display (called Bentley Rotating Display, of course) rotates and hides behind the dashboard when you just want to relax and drive, replaced by three clean, analog displays .
If you turn around like this, you will see how distracting a massive, modern digital display can be. I surprised myself by preferring to drive the car with the car hidden. Likewise, Bentley did a good job of making the digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel look classy and simple, although it still provides all the information you need for your drive.
And how is it to drive? Livelier than you can imagine. The Flying Spur is based on the same basic platform as the Porsche Panamera and has fundamentally good dynamics, which is supported by a rear steering system that practically shortens the wheelbase. The result is far quicker than expected when you sink into the soft driver’s seat for the first time and grab the fat, upright steering wheel.
Thanks to the 6.0-liter W12 under the hood, much more eager than expected. The latest taste of this now venerable engine is up to 626 horsepower in the 2020 Flying Spur, paired with 664 pound-feet of torque. If you use a smooth but fast-shifting ZF eight-speed dual clutch transmission and an all-wheel drive system with 40/60 front / rear split all-wheel drive, you can reach 60 miles per hour in just 3.7 seconds.
Yes, it is rightly fast, but when I actually try to use this performance, I feel like I am missing the point. It is good to know that this type of speed is on tap, but for me the Flying Spur is best suited if it is left in the standard “Bentley” mode, which is simply marked with a B. Here the suspension is compliant, the gearbox feels soft and all the many worries of the world are just a little further away.
If you drive like this, you also have a better chance of reaching the car’s EPA-rated 12 miles per gallon and 19 MPG highway with a combined number of only 15. I actually did a little better and got 17 MPG when I mostly blew my way through my week of driving. However, if you can afford the starting price of $ 214,600 for the Flying Spur or $ 289,850 for the car tested here (including a target fee of $ 2,725 and options of $ 72,525), you probably won’t be too badly affected by fuel consumption.
Regardless of how you drive it or how you specify it, the Flying Spur is a wonderful package. The subtle visual charm is supported by a rewarding drive and all the shine you want or can expect. So it’s a consummate Bentley and sedan that will hopefully make people think twice before bringing another SUV to bear.