This new third-generation Bentley Flying Spur has more to prove, and tougher circumstances in which to do it, than either of its modern predecessors.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has already devastated communities and rocked global markets, the murky fog of uncertainty that it has brought, which looks set to linger for a long while yet, may be even more costly for the likes of Bentley. With many of the world’s economies currently on a knife edge, only the passing of time will reveal the true extent of the damage that will be done to global appetites for luxury cars. Among the vast range of problems this crisis has thrown up, it may not rank highly for overall importance, but we need hardly record how bad a time this is to be introducing a brand-new limousine to the world.
Even the Bentley product landscape into which this car is emerging is challenging. Production of the Mulsanne saloon has recently ended, so the new Flying Spur will become Crewe’s one and only traditional four-door limousine – and a de facto flagship model, of a kind. With the second-fiddle crutch status of its predecessors removed, there can now be no excuses for this car. Not only must it drive in the captivating manner that has always distinguished the best Bentleys, but it must also major in exceptional rolling refinement and passenger comfort, and truly special on-board luxury, if it is to be defined as its customers will expect.
That may help to explain why Bentley has set out to comprehensively raise the bar with this car, adopting a new platform for it, as well as chassis technologies never used by any other Bentley, and has lavished more sophisticated cabin technology and connectivity than it has previously.
The Flying Spur line-up at a glance
Right now, there is only one engine option for the Flying Spur. If the model follows the example of the related Continental GT, the line-up will be likely to expand to take in a slightly cheaper 4.0-litre V8 in fairly short order. It might also join the less closely related Bentayga in sprouting a six-cylinder plug-in hybrid derivative. Right now, if you had to bet which additional powertrain would come first, you’d probably plump for the hybrid.