Having acquired Bentley, the original Bentley Flying Spur was the second half of Volkswagen’s grand strategy for the resuscitation of the British marque.

Bentley may have made its name with heavyweight, ultra-fast two-door ‘lorries’, but the brand proved just as capable of fitting four doors to its coachwork.

This tradition continued through the S and T-series models, right up to the final Mulsanne built under Vickers’ ownership. In fact, the first post-war car to emerge from Crewe with a body supplied by Bentley (and not a coachbuilder) was the Mark VI — a saloon that morphed into the R-type, which in turn spawned a two-door version dubbed the Continental.

The Continental GT may have kick-started Bentley's reformation in familiar two-door sporting format, but its four-door sibling was rightly considered essential to establishing Bentley as VW’s luxury division, and as a credible volume rival to its former bedfellow, Rolls-Royce

Nevertheless, the car was not meant as a limousine. Its engineers remained preoccupied with the idea that a Bentley was bought to be driven, not driven in.

But buyers in the US – and now, more importantly, China – disagreed and made the Flying Spur the best-selling four-door Bentley ever without straying from the back seat. 

It is chiefly their input and needs that have been addressed with the new model – a car that no longer requires (or warrants) a badge tie-up with the still-related Continental.

It is now a substantial event in its own right, but has the change in approach rendered the new Flying Spur a damp squib in its still sizeable home market? We give the driver the week off to find out.

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Bentley range

Driven this week

  • Seat Leon ST Cupra 2.0 TSI 4Drive 300PS DSG
    First Drive
    28 April 2017
    Seat's fastest Leon ST is fun to drive quickly and has enough space for all the family, but VW's own Golf R Estate is even better to drive
  • Porsche 911 GT3 manual 2017 review
    First Drive
    28 April 2017
    The new 911 GT3 is an excellent machine; does the addition of a manual gearbox make it even better?
  • Skoda Karoq
    First Drive
    28 April 2017
    The Yeti has morphed into the Karoq for its second generation, and this early drive reveals a solid, practical small SUV that could challenge the class best
  • Opel Ampera-e
    First Drive
    27 April 2017
    Opel's second-generation Ampera is smaller than the first, and now purely electric. It's also very capable with a remarkable range
  • Lotus Elise Sprint
    First Drive
    27 April 2017
    The latest incarnation of the Elise may be out of its depth on track, but on the public road it is probably the purest version since the original