Autocar took to a streaming-wet Goodwood hillclimb at 10.45 on Sunday morning, having watched a scary series of antique bikes and cars wobble and weave in the rain to the top of the famous course.
We shouldn’t have worried about the fortunes of the all-new Bentley Flying Spur – or its 626bhp W12 – because a proper expert called Andrew Unsworth, the Crewe company’s head of vehicle dynamics, was at the wheel, and in any case the car bristled with stability and traction controls tuned for difficult occasions like this one.
What’s more, the Flying Spur is a brand-new design, based on the Volkswagen Group’s MSB architecture specifically designed for its largest vehicles, that shares its major elements with the Porsche Panamera. Whereas the previous Flying Spur was related to the now-defunct VW Phaeton limo, and was severely limited in packaging and tyre sizes by that, the new model, about to go on sale, has a chassis and suspension set-up whose main elements were included in the original MSB programme, with Bentley engineers carrying as much clout in the negotiations as their Porsche colleagues.
“It’s not really a platform in the conventional sense,” says Unsworth, “because it’s highly flexible and can be altered quite radically in dimensions to suit particular applications."
We drove slowly along a crowd-lined passage to the start line, entirely surrounded by car lovers as we waited to run. As usual, the knowledge and enthusiasm of the Goodwood crowd was deeply impressive, even intoxicating, and it was clear (because so many of them told us) that the new Bentley’s much more graceful proportions were obvious and very appealing.