There is the faintest first-order chug about the Flying Spur’s twin-turbocharged W12 engine when it’s just above idle, which becomes a mellifluous whirr at typical operating revs and then turns into more of a growl, although never a howl, under load. This is an aristocratic engine with a character of its own, and not without charm.
In truth, it isn’t the greatest ‘sporting’ engine. It doesn’t rev much beyond 6000rpm. It isn’t the most responsive mill, either, much preferring deliberate, unhurried throttle inputs to sudden ones. But when bolted into a luxury saloon at least, it fits the bill very nicely indeed. Just like Bentley’s soon to be retired ‘six-and-three-quarter’ V8, it’s all about mid-range torque; and, by Jove, there’s a lot of that when it comes.
Prod your way into the accelerator pedal travel a couple of inches when just nosing around in traffic, allowing a split second for those turbos to wake up, and you’re wafted onwards and upwards in such strong and superbly elastic fashion that you’d swear it would be unchanged by the addition of an Orient Express’s worth of ballast coupled up at the back.
Dig deeper still into the pedal and there is surprising outright potency in store, although it doesn’t always come so effortlessly. The W12 likes revs to make lots of torque. From a typical cruise, it needs a couple of downshifts to get into a powerband that, through the lower gears, can feel just a little bit narrow and fleeting. That’s why it’s best to stick with manual mode on that gearbox, keeping the engine in something of an advanced state of readiness, when you’re really savouring the car’s driving experience.
And you will – because the Flying Spur can be every bit as quick as a modern super-saloon from point to point, on roads wide enough to suit it. And now that the engine is partnered with a driveline that can fully deploy all of the torque it makes even from rest, there is little more spectacular than witnessing this 2.5-tonne limousine – a car big and lavish enough to hold an impromptu meeting of some corporate supervisory boards, don’t forget – launching to 60mph from standing in just 3.9sec. That’s as quickly as a Ferrari F40 managed it.
Brake pedal feel is deliciously progressive. From big speeds, it can feel like a bit more outright retardation power wouldn’t go amiss, but that’s partly the result of the ultra-smooth, long-travel pedal tuning.