The Bentley Continental Flying Spur is a vast and potent luxury car, but its refinement isn't good enough
What is it?
The Flying Spur Speed is a new, hotter update of Bentley’s Continental saloon, with more power and a claimed 200mph top speed. The Speed gets the same uprated version of Bentley’s 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 that we’ve already seen in the Speed version of the coupe, with 600bhp and 553lb ft of torque.
Performance is more than adequate: Bentley claims that, despite a near-three ton kerbweight, the Spur Speed can crack 60mph from rest in 4.5seconds and get north of 100mph in just 10.5seconds.
Visually, the Speed is distinguished by a dark tinted front grille, a 10mm lower ride height and new 20-inch alloys. It costs £16,000 more than the standard Flying Spur.
What’s it like?
Bentley has given the Flying Spur a mid-life facelift at the same time as introducing the Speed package, bringing some mild updates to the VW-based saloon that was launched in 2006.
The radiator grille is slightly steeper and the bumpers are new, while the interior has been tweaked with piping and a new standard multi-spoke wheel. Fresh options include a brilliant Naim premium audio system.
The headline improvement is to the mechanicals. The Speed engine gets a series of detail improvements that together raise power from the previous 550 bhp (a level retained in the standard car) to 600 bhp, while also boosting economy by 3.5 percent.
Both models get refinement updates (thicker glass, an acoustic chief underneath) plus a thorough revision of suspension bushes, spring and damper rates, and anti-roll bars.
The Speed gets its steering rack rigidly mounted to the chassis, giving it a noticeably more accurate and communicative helm – but it’s still quieter and smoother than its predecessor.
On public roads its hard to pick up the performance difference between the Speed and the standard Flying Spur, but the more powerful car has more exhaust rumble, including a deliciously throaty burble on the overrun.
The bottom line is that the Speed combines more refinement and luxury with an even sharper performance edge.
So, should I buy one?
If you can hack the fuel consumption (which hovers around 16-18mpg for everyday use) – and afford to pay the scarily high running costs – the Spur Speed makes a strong case for itself. It possesses an extra helping of exclusivity compared to lesser big saloons – and it loses nothing in refinement.