MONACO – The principality of Monaco on the French Riviera may span just two square kilometres but within its narrow borders reside some of the wealthiest people in the world. In 2018, it was speculated that up to 30 percent of Monaco’s nearly 40 000-strong population were euro millionaires. Offset by some of the smallest pet dogs I’ve ever seen, the symbiotic relationship that plays out on a daily basis between residents of the second-smallest country in the world and the seemingly endless stream of tourists flowing from docked cruiseliners is one of rushed photographs and over-the-top grandeur. Despite its famously narrow streets and a scarcity of available parking spots, both its relatively small Port Hercules harbour and myriad roadways brim with the kind of motor-driven exuberance unaffected by fluctuating economies or, indeed, fuel prices.
It’s for such affluent audiences that BMW increased the size of the 7 Series’ grille and Mercedes-Benz clinged to its Maybach nameplate. All the while, though, luxury automakers such as Rolls-Royce and Bentley enjoy pride-of-place standings, notably with some of their largest respective offerings.
By Bentley’s understanding, the average Flying Spur owner boasts a collection of around nine vehicles. With this in mind, the Crewe-based company developed the third-generation of its luxury four-door sedan to complement an existing collection, regardless of whether its owner opts to be driven or, indeed, take the wheel.
With proportions that largely mimic those of the previous-generation car, much like the Continental GT (and Porsche Panamera) with which it shares its MSB platform, the new Flying Spur gains 130 mm in wheelbase length with the placement of the front wheels further forward in package than before. Boasting corresponding shorter overhangs, front and rear, the new car’s Super-Plastic formed all-aluminium body (the largest single panel in the automotive industry) appears suitably more lithe and resolved compared with its predecessor.
While an altogether larger grille gains vertical vanes that pay homage to the 1957 S1 Continental Flying Spur, new state-of-the-art LED headlamps and Bentley “B”-inspired taillamps ensure a sense of presence. Redesigned as part of the company’s centenary celebrations, the “Flying B” hood ornament not only features wings that illuminate at night, but is also electrically operated (raised and lowered) via controls in both the front and rear passenger seats.
Largely shared with the Continental GT, the new Flying Spur’s exquisitely appointed, handmade interior features both the smaller car’s digital instrumentation and Rotating Display showing either a 12,3-inch touchscreen, a set of analogue dials (including a compass) or simply a continuation of whichever wood trim the owner has selected for the rest of cabin. Where the four-door model differs from the GT is the replacement of the twin “bull’s eye” air vents ahead of the transmission lever with an intricately crafted new “Flying B” arrangement.
With a choice of 15 interior colours, the Flying Spur owner is able to spec the rear seats in a different hue to those up front. Electrically operated, heated and ventilated and equipped with a massage function, it’s the plushness of the rear accommodation that’s likely to sell most owners on the virtues of Bentley’s newest limousine. With legroom aplenty, the rear seat amenities include both fixed and mobile touchscreen technologies.
Tasked with making light work of the new car’s 2,4-tonne kerb weight is Bentley’s reworked twin-turbocharged 6,0-litre W12 engine delivering 467 kW and 900 N.m to all four wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. With the decision to opt for a double-clutch unit as opposed to a more traditional automatic ‘box placed on overall dynamics, I did find some of its workings less fluid than one might expect in such a comfort-oriented package.
And yet, Bentley claims a 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 3,8 seconds for the Flying Spur. Offering rear-wheel steering that effectively shortens the car’s wheelbase for improved low-speed manoeuvrability, at speeds of more than 100 km/h these wheels turn in the same direction as the front in order to provide improved precision and agility. Combined with an electrically controlled clutch-based all-wheel-drive system able to send torque to the front wheels as required, as well as torque vectoring and a dynamic ride system (including three-chamber air springs), the biggest compliment I can pay this 5 316-metre car designed ostensibly around passenger comfort is that, from the driver’s seat, it’s easy to forget just how much opulence is trailing behind you.
While I'd opt for the optional Blackline package that replaces some of the ornate chrome work (including the grille and ornament), I appreciate that the new Bentley Flying Spur offers enough glamour and effortless refinement to place above the likes of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7 Series in terms of presence, yet isn’t as grandiose or imposing as a Rolls-Royce.
FAST FACTSModel: Bentley Flying Spur
Price: R3 750 000
Engine: 6,0-litre, W12, twin-turbocharged
Power: 467 kW @ 6 000 r/min
Torque: 900 N.m @ 1 350 - 4 500 r/min
0-100 km/h: 3,8 seconds
Top Speed: 333 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 14,8 L/100 km
CO2: 337 g/km
Transmission: 8-spd dual clutch
Maintenance Plan: Five-year/75 000 km