Better, no question. From the off, you can tell that the Flying Spur rides with more maturity than its predecessor; it’s calmer and softer around town.
It’s quiet, too. If there’s any hint of additional ambient noise, the Spur is the kind of car in which you have to look at the tachometer to see if it’s running. Step-off from rest is suitably easy, the throttle pedal long and the brakes easy to modulate. It’s a simple car to run (or be run) around town in.
Up the speeds on motorways and it’s a similar story. The W12 engine remains über quiet at speed, other noise seems well suppressed and the gearbox shifts cleanly enough. The steering’s very stable around the straight ahead, too. I only took the car up to UK motorway speeds, but it feels like it’ll stay that way well beyond three-figures.
That’s one of the advantages of engineering a car for 200mph, says Bentley: customers might not do that speed, but Bentley would make a very different car if it didn’t have to engineer it that way.
One of the disadvantages, I wonder, is whether the Flying Spur isn’t all the luxury car it could be because of that duality of purpose. True, it rides better than the old car by a truly significant margin, but its air suspension still brings with it a “sproing” (er, technical term…honest), a slightly hollow thud to it. It’s less isolated from the road surface than a Rolls-Royce Ghost, you feel.
And, if you’re on anything other than straightish, smooth roads, this 2475kg, 1976mm wide car brings with it some sizeable body movements. The previous solution to containing them was by tying the suspension down hard.
Given the customer has said that’s no longer acceptable - and it really wasn’t - the alternative has been to set those movements freer. Some customers might find them too free, though; that there’s too much float in some circumstances, while not being compliant enough in others, occasionally both at the same time.
The Spur’s dampers can be switched through four settings: we’ll need to drive it in the UK, but one down from Sport struck me as the best compromise. For my money, though, an Aston Rapide, which of course has the advantage of being about a half-tonne lighter, better blends ride and handling (and steering).
Inside, the Spur feels, as its £140,000-£150,000 price suggests it should, a cut above top-end luxury cars from more mainstream manufacturers. Functionality is in some places excellent (rear passengers get a superb controller for audio/climate functions and the like), but a little clunkier in others (the front touch-screen and sat-nav is not VW Group’s best). Overall, though, the cabin feels pretty special.