Bentley sharpens its Spur
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
A historic 1958 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur was lurking in the corner of the Crewe factory showroom when the covers came off the latest MY2020 car to bear the model name, leaving little doubt about where the design team looked for inspiration.
For the new Spur, due to go on sale in New Zealand next February, has a similarly elegant side profile to its mid-20th century forebear, with a long bonnet suggesting that an engine the size of a Spitfire’s Merlin V12 has taken up residence.
Visually, next year’s Spur looks far more like a relative of the Mulsanne super-limousine than a four-door derivative of the Continental GT sports-coupe, which is how many have perceived the Flying Spur since its return to the Bentley fold back in 2005.
The new Spur is only a few millimetres longer at 5.304mm, and it sits on a wheelbase stretched by a further 130mm. In less extraordinary cars, that added real estate between the axles would be entirely devoted to increasing cabin space. The new Spur will offer more legroom for rear seat passengers than before, but a considerable portion of the wheelbase extension is used to pay homage to the past.
“We’ve moved the front axle 130mm further forward,” says Bentley’s director of design, Stefan Sielaff, “and this makes more space between the windscreen and the front wheels.”
If this seems wasteful and a victory of romance and art over practicality, then rest assured that the well-furnished cabin of the new Flying Spur won’t be short of room.
Bentleys have simply always been this way since W.O. Bentley founded the company on July 10, 1919, to fulfill his vision of building the ultimate touring machine.
Behind the design art, you’ll find some impressive engineering in the new Spur.
Sielaff’s team decided that the once co-joined “power” and “haunch” side feature lines that have defined Bentleys since the 1950s should be separated on this model, leading to a new engineering challenge. Forming these more ripped feature lines in the aluminum body of the Flying Spur required the creation of the largest “superformed” body panels in the automotive world.
It heats sheet aluminum to 500C then pours the molten metal under high pressure into a mould in a similar way to making products using thermoplastics.
The result is a larger, stronger aluminum body that is 38kg lighter than that of the 2019 model.
With plenty of heavy metal features added including all-wheel-steering, active all-wheel-drive, the world’s first 48V adaptive stabiliser bars, air suspension, an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and a 6.0-litre W12 engine, the new Spur weighs in at a 2.4 tonnes.
Fortunately, the W12 is the same tune as the one fitted to the recently released Bentayga Speed, and it develops 467kW of power and 900Nm of twisting force. Bentley says that’s enough to fly the Spur from 0-100km/h in 3.8s, and to a top of 333km/h..
That maximum speed is achieved in sixth gear, with seventh and eighth essentially ratios that the transmission selects to save fuel.
The revised W12 engine also boasts a 15 per cent increase in efficiency thanks to the dual mass flywheel that adds more rotational mass when cruising, allowing some cylinders to shut down.
The new four-wheel drive system drives just the rear wheels in steady-state driving, using a multi-plate clutch to instantly send torque to the front wheels whenever it is required.
The torque distribution of the 4WD system differs according to which driving mode is selected.
A maximum of 400Nm will sent forward when required in the more comfortable driving modes, reducing to 250Nm in the “sports” mode.
A further boost to driver engagement is the all-wheel steering system, that turns the front and rear 21in alloy wheels (Mulliner has two 22in options) in the same direction at open-road cornering speeds, and in the opposite directions at parking speeds to reduce the turning circle.
This should make it feel more agile than its length suggests, judging by the system’s performance in other products sharing the same Volkswagen Group MSB platform.
(Porsche Panamera, Audi A8 etc.)
Helping the car handle our hilly topography will be the active stabiliser bars that can deliver robust body-roll control, the front sway bar able to be stiffened by up to 1300Nm of torque in just 0.3s when in sports mode.
Potential Kiwi owners of the Flying Spur are far more likely to drive the car themselves, and the driving interface of the Bentley will provide plenty of encouragement.
There’s a rotating 12.3in touch-screen, gorgeous new air vents with a diamond-effect bezels, and 10 driver-assistance features to help operate the Spur.
The standard audio is a 650W 10-speaker system, but upgrades include a 1500W, 16-speaker Bang and Olufsen package.
Perhaps the real crowning detail is the retractable “Flying B” mascot fitted above the large vertical-vaned grille of the new Spur.
It’ll signal to everyone that you’ve arrived.