Vital Stats

Engine:
Twin-Turbo 4.0L V8
Power:
500 HP / 488 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
4.9 Seconds
Top Speed:
183 MPH
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
5,341 LBS
Seating:
2+2
Cargo:
16.8 CU-FT
MPG:
14 City / 24 HWY
Base Price:
$195,100
Despite Bentley's reputation as a holier-than-thou, ultra-luxury brand, at the end of the day, the Big B is still a business. As such, ongoing trends like powertrain downsizing and model range expansion are more prevalent at Bentley than ever. Just look at the Continental range – what started as the GT W12 has expanded into the GTC W12, GT V8, GT V8 S, GTC V8, GTC V8 S, GT Speed and GTC Speed. Talk about "have it your way."

But there's good reason for that. So many of these vehicles, despite their hand-crafted, bespoke nature, are all – gasp! – plug-and-play exercises that allow Bentley to appeal to the broadest range of upper-lux buyers, while keeping development costs relatively low. It's a move that's indeed worked, the company managing to post healthy sales increases year after year. And that's only going to get better, following the launch of the Flying Spur sedan last year, not to mention the upcoming, highly anticipated SUV that's in the works. As Kevin Rose, Bentley's member of the board for sales, marketing and aftersales told me recently, "The best years are yet to come."

To further expand an already growing range, I recently hopped a plane to London to experience the second member of the Flying Spur family – the V8. This less-powerful Spur offers better fuel efficiency and a lower staring price, while not compromising any of the brand's core values of luxury and refinement above all. But to paraphrase what executive editor Chris Paukert said when he drove the Conti GT V8 in 2012, this is indeed The Thinking Man's Flying Spur. Here, less really is more.

Driving Notes
  • What makes this Flying Spur different from the ones before it is beneath the bonnet: a twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V8, seen elsewhere in the greater Volkswagen Group portfolio under the hood of the Audi S8. In the Spur, this robust engine puts out 500 horsepower and 488 pound-feet of torque. Note that those figures represent decreases of 116 hp and 102 lb-ft versus the 12-cylinder model that senior editor Seyth Miersma drove in China last year.
  • On the surface, that seems like a huge loss. But hold on – run the two cars side by side, and the V8 is only half a second slower to 60 miles per hour (4.9 seconds, here), thanks in part to a 110-pound weight savings. What's more, despite the Flying Spur's quest of first and foremost being quiet and shielding you from the outside world, the V8 sounds a whole lot better, with a revvy, throaty quality, much like what you hear in the Audi.
  • There's really nothing in this world that can quite compete with the pavement-warping thrust of the W12, but for what I imagine will be 95 percent of the Flying Spur's driving scenarios, the V8 is more than adequate in terms of power. The eight-speed automatic transmission does a fine job of managing things, as well – you'll never notice it's there, unless you decide to click through the gears yourself via the column-mounted paddles. (Honestly, don't.)
  • This combination of less power, less weight and an efficient transmission posts gains in the fuel economy department – the V8 model is estimated to achieve 14 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg highway, compared to 12/20 mpg city/highway in the W12.
  • Let me be clear: the 616-hp W12 Spur is great, but if I'm playing favorites, I'd rather drive the V8 car. On the more engaging roads through the English countryside, the happier-to-rev eight-pot is easier to keep on boil, and with 110 less pounds to lug around (a full 88 of which are due to the engine swap itself), the Spur doesn't feel like quite a lummox when driven spiritedly.
  • Of course, this is still a 5,341-pound, all-wheel-drive sedan we're talking about, with suspension geometry that's a bit softer than the Continental or the Spur that came before it, so it's not so much "tossing" as it is, well, let's just go British and say "motoring." Indeed, this car may be better to drive than its W12 counterpart, but only just. The Flying Spur still offers typically unnoticeable amounts of driver feedback, with nicely weighted (but light) steering, and an air suspension that keeps things copacetic while allowing only the necessary amounts of pitch and body roll to keep Sir from being thrown about in the back seat.
  • As Miersma rightly pointed out in his First Drive, the grip on offer largely comes down to the excellent all-wheel-drive system, and the fat tires, sized 19 inches in diameter here (20s are optional). Make no mistake, the Driver's Bentley is still the Continental coupe, but the Spur isn't completely muted in terms of enthusiastic voice. It's quick and smooth, with an unmatched ride quality, all enhanced by the very subtle purr of the V8 underhood.
  • Other V8-model-specific differences include red badges on the exterior, and the unique, figure-eight shaped exhaust outlets around back. Other than that, it's business as usual inside and out, so only your most discerning of colleagues at the country club will notice you've opted for a less-expensive version.
  • That means driver and passengers are treated to a truly top-notch experience inside the cabin, with only the finest fabrics sewn over the seats and doors, matched with 33 square feet of natural wood (crafted by hand, cured for 72 hours and clear-lacquered, by the way). It doesn't even seem right to discuss things like fit and finish, or critique material selection, because as you can imagine, it's all outstanding. The best stuff out there.
  • Bentley offers this sedan with three different rear seating arrangements – a two-plus-two, fixed-seat setup, a three-wide bench, or a contoured bench offering two-place seating. To rightly experience this, I was chauffeured into central London in the back of a fixed-seat car, featuring fully adjustable thrones, and pretty much every single amenity you could ever ask for. It's second-best to the larger Mulsanne, sure, but I can't see a single reason why anyone in this world would ever complain about the Spur's accommodations. Of course, I reside in a wholly different tax bracket than target buyers, but still – I dare you to find something less-than-lovely in the Flying Spur's rear accommodations.
  • Perhaps my only gripe with the Flying Spur is its navigation/infotainment system in the center stack up front, which both feels and looks a couple generations too old. It's way too similar to the Volkswagen unit employed in cars like the last-gen Passat, and while it's decently intuitive to use, it's not pretty. Far less expensive fullsize sedans like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and even Volkswagen Group's own Audi A8 best the Flying Spur in the new and innovative tech category. Still, the system checks all the right boxes and works as advertised, so really, I'm just being picky. It also offers backseat residents control via the smart-phone-like Touch Screen Remote, which the Audi and Benz don't yet have an answer for.
  • Flying Spur V8 models will start at $195,100 when they go on sale in the third quarter of this year – a decrease of $5,400 versus the W12. The higher-lux Mulliner specification comes in at $208,170, and as with all Bentley models, the configuration possibilities are literally infinite.
  • Bentley expects the V8 to account for a full 50 percent of Flying Spur sales here in the US, attracting new buyers to the brand in the process. From where I sit, I can't see a single reason to not get the V8, unless you've got an extra $5,400 in your pocket (if you're a customer, you likely do) and simply cannot settle for anything less than the top spec. It's a better-driving version of an already astonishingly comfortable and competent luxury sedan. If this is what model expansion looks like in the world of Bentley, the best years are indeed yet to come.


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  • 36 Comments
      nlt624@aol.com
      • 6 Months Ago
      As soon as I win this Powerball!!!
        Billy Farmer
        • 6 Months Ago
        @nlt624@aol.com
        'might as well get a sign and wear it ," Hey I won the powerball " come follow me around and rob me ! I say if you can afford to drive this then make sure you can afford to hire a small army of loyal body guards to protect you !
      Jim Pease
      • 6 Months Ago
      Flying Spurs always catch my eye when I see them in traffic. And I love that blue.
      Tesla Fan
      • 6 Months Ago
      only a dumb rich person would waste their money on this
      Bernard
      • 6 Months Ago
      Oh yes, the discount model for the Bentley shopper who can't afford 12 cylinders.
        JJ
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Bernard
        It's mainly for china, where anything with ander 4000cc has less tax to make a deference.
        ihyln
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Bernard
        With the difference being around $5000 you don't think that the people who have $200k to drop on a car can't scrape that up in between their couch cushions? I know several people who own bentleys and they pay for it in cash. you sound like a yokel peasant.
          Bernard
          • 6 Months Ago
          @ihyln
          That only proves my point, why would you get 8 cylinders if you can afford 12?
      mycommentemail
      • 6 Months Ago
      Oh jeez. Bentley SUV? SUV drivers can often be a bunch of dicks. Now add ultra-entitled, rich snobbery on top of it and you get a douche-mobile extraordinaire. Can't wait to see the money manager ********* that climbs out of one of those.
        mycommentemail
        • 6 Months Ago
        @mycommentemail
        Clarification: "Look at me" SUV drivers vs. "legit" SUV drivers. I think there should be a test before you can buy a car. If the car is more outdoorsy than you are, you don't get to buy it. Do you need to transport a kayak? You are in. Need to tow a boat. In too. Gonna drive up the side of a rocky trail. Done. Gonna go get a latte next to your neon spandex gym? Buzz! No sale for you. That should put an end to the 4x4 luxury poser SUV's that only go to the mall.
          mycommentemail
          • 6 Months Ago
          @mycommentemail
          No, it is an AWESOME idea :) Unless you are one of those people who drive an SUV but don't actually, you know, use the S. Or the U. Basically it would suck if you were one of those people who drive a 4x4 adventure wagon to pick up the groceries and impress your neighbors. Then you might consider it a bad idea. Hmmmm....
          Tina Dang
          • 6 Months Ago
          @mycommentemail
          That is a really STUPID idea.
      adam1keith1980
      • 6 Months Ago
      I prefer to get a nearly mechanically identical car at half-price. I miss the VW Phaeton.
        Marc Hamady
        • 6 Months Ago
        @adam1keith1980
        I liked the Phaeton a lot. I would take a Phaeton or A8 or 7-series or XJ over the overpriced overrated S-class any day. You get what you pay for, and sometimes you get less than what you pay for.
      chippers
      • 6 Months Ago
      I really like the nice, understated wheels but something tells me a lot of the classier buyers are going to want to swap them for enormous chrome monstrosities.
      ammca66564
      • 6 Months Ago
      An Audi A8 is 100% as good mechanically, and about 90% in the interior. For half the price.
      ferps
      • 6 Months Ago
      There's a $25k difference in price between the Audi S8 and the A8 W12. Yet with Bentley the same engine choice is a $5k difference?
      Hernan
      • 6 Months Ago
      I don't think you're being picky. Since it costs a lot more than flagship German sedans, it should have tech that's two generations AHEAD of the pack.
      Billy Farmer
      • 6 Months Ago
      Nice interior but I am sorry No matter how rich I am, I would never buy a car that cost as much as a home ! 65k is the most I would ever shell out on a car ! maybe 75k on a cadillac Escolade SUV
        Billy Farmer
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Billy Farmer
        in some parts of some states 195,100 is the price of two homes as well...
          Teleny411
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Billy Farmer
          If you moved into a city in the rust belt, you could buy a city block for $200k
      Robbie
      • 6 Months Ago
      I love the cleaner front end but that saggy butt is a real deterrent.
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