The Flying Spur saloon gets more power and some styling tweaks

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.

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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Jon Hardcastle 11 June 2008

Re: Bentley Flying Spur Speed

I don't find it ugly, but cannot see the point of a more powerful version of an already powerful current luxury car.

Totally with you on the Quattroporte though, stunning car.

Lotus Man 11 June 2008

Re: Bentley Flying Spur Speed

This has got be the ugliest Toyota Camry looking, VW Phaeton based, Korean styled "Bentley" ever. And then they put more bling on it!!

The only thing that makes it anything out of the ordinary is the performance. The whole Continental GT and the other derivatives are good for people who want to buy a badge...footballers and Costa Del D&G types are most welcome to this.

Me? I would rather have the Quattroporte or MB S63 and keep the change for a New Noble or Artega!