What is it?
A year on from Bentley’s comprehensive re-engineering of the Flying Spur it has finally added a second engine to compliment the headlining W12. It's the same twin-turbocharged V8 4.0-litre unit that forced us to upgrade our appreciation of the GT not so long ago, and is also found powering a number of big-money Audis.
While it falls short of the exclusivity and heritage of the fabulous 6.75-litre pushrod V8 powering the Mulsanne, it is of the same vintage as the industrial-strength RS6 – and therefore its thrust potential is beyond question. In breathed-on Bentley format (the turbochargers and engine map are different) it develops 500bhp and 488lb ft of torque from 1750rpm, levering its thoroughly English greatcoat to 60mph in a shade under five seconds and a top speed of 183mph.
Lavish numbers for what remains a near two-and-a-half tonne car, then, although outright performance is only part of the story; of equal importance is the 25.9mpg combined quote and Bentley’s bold claim that a full 90-litre tank will deliver a range in excess of 500 miles. The ability to prospectively swallow London to Frankfurt whole is an important part of what distinguishes the new Flying Spur from its 12-cylinder teammate.
The visual differences between the two are more subtle. At the back there are now chromed figure of eight exhaust pipes and – as in the GT – the winged Bentley badge receives a red centre to denote the V8. Much, as you’d expect, is standard on the Spur, but many customers will still choose to indulge the huge option list or opt for the slightly more expensive Mulliner trim which adds 20-inch alloys along with all manner of quilting, indenting and additional veneers inside.
Otherwise, the revised Spur is much as we left it: still four-wheel drive, air sprung and furnished with ZF’s super-smooth auto 'box for your comfort. The V8 is a variation on a theme then – but an important one. At £136,000 Bentley is hoping to attract new customers to the brand; particularly luxury saloon buyers who may previously have thought the W12 either too expensive or (more likely) too extravagant to seriously consider.