Bentley's four-door Continental Flying Spur is the soul mate of the much-revered Continental GT coupé, and shares mechanicals with its masterful six-litre sibling.

Bentley's four-door Continental Flying Spur is the soul mate the much-revered Continental GT coupé and shares mechanicals with its masterful six-litre sibling.

The original Flying Spur was a raging success when it was first released in 1957, and the latest incarnation may not be too far off the mark judging by the resounding response to the Bentley Continental GT coupé after its late-2003 launch. Like the first Spur, the new version has been positioned above other offerings in the premium saloon market.

Powered by the same six-litre twin-turbo W12 engine that does duty in its two-door sibling, the Spur achieves a top speed of 320 km/h. Mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddle shift, the engine develops a peak output of 441 kW and 650 N.m of torque. Bentley claims a zero-to-100 km/h time of less than five seconds.

Designed and produced alongside the GT at the company's Crewe plant, the four-door also uses the same all-wheel drive system. The stiff chassis and advanced air suspension combine to regulate the balance and ride quality of the larger vehicle.

Classic styling and opulent interiors are a Bentley hallmark, and chairman Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen is convinced that Flying Spur buyers will appreciate the high level of standard specification.

"The Continental Flying Spur has all the technology and equipment that our customers want and need," he said. "They will not have to trawl through an options list for hours with their dealer because everything is included. What they will enjoy, however, is the experience of tailoring the car to their taste and style.

The long wheelbase provides generous legroom for the rear passengers, who have the option of a two-seat layout with a centre console or a conventional three-seat bench.

The traditionally styled cabin is equipped with all the modern conveniences, including four-zone climate control and a state-of-the-art infotainment package. All interior surfaces are decked with wood veneers or a choice of 11 leather hides, while conventional ventilation outlets and controls are used in the front and rear.

Sharing its front architecture with the coupé, the latest Bentley has a short front overhang to highlight the muscular, yet clean lines. The effect is accentuated by the dominant grille. The gracefully sloping profile with its distinctive shoulder lines is met by an angular rear end incorporating large taillights.

The fetching Continental Flying Spur goes on sale overseas early this year.