Can the Bentley Flying Spur V8 bring premium performance?

Bentley’s big Flying Spur has been given a V8 engine – but how does this change the overall feel of the car? JACK EVANS finds out.

Bentley has a longstanding history of creating big, luxurious and powerful battlecruisers. Think of the Arnage or the Turbo R as examples from the firm’s back catalogue of how it has been able to deliver huge performance in a comfortable and high-end package.

The Flying Spur is its latest attempt. First delivered in sumptuous W12-powered glory, Bentley has now introduced a lighter V8-powered version which brings down the entry price point to the range too. The question is, can this new V8 Flying Spur deliver the goods? We’ve been behind the wheel to find out.

The bulk of the changes reside around that powertrain, of course, but the by-product of this is that the Flying Spur sheds 107kg over the W12 version while also cleaning up its act in terms of emissions and fuel economy thanks not only to that drop in bulk but also clever cylinder-deactivation technology. It’s still not Prius-rivalling, mind you, but it’s a start.

Inside, you’ve got the luxurious fit-and-finish that you’d expect from a car with a flying ‘B’ on the bonnet while there’s the option to fit all manner of top-end features – our car, for instance, came with a champagne fridge fitted in between the two rear seats. Even at close to 200mph, you’re going to want to keep your Bollinger cold, right?

The turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine that you’ll find powering this Flying Spur is also used in a variety of other cars, both within Bentley’s range – in the Bentayga, for instance – as well as in a series of performance models. There’s good reason for that, however, as it’s a masterfully well-engineered bit of kit, delivering a brawny 542bhp and 770Nm of torque through all four wheels and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

It allows this leviathan to go from 0-60mph in just four seconds before carrying on to 198mph. Bentley also claims 22mpg combined, while CO2 emissions stand at 288g/km. However, coupled with a 90-litre tank, this does mean that the Flying Spur should manage 400 miles from a single fill-up.

Start up the Flying Spur and, apart from a small ‘woofle’ from the exhaust, there’s very little noise to speak of. Move away and this continues further, with the isolation of any real noise from entering the cabin ensuring that you can carry on at an almost other-worldly level of quiet. The ride is sublime and a contributing factor to this; switch the air suspension into Comfort and the Flying Spur practically glides on honey as it moves down the road.

But there’s performance there if you want it. Explore the depths of the throttle pedal and you’re rewarded with a surging, rolling swell of torque to play with. It’s not aggressive nor sharp, but the Flying Spur’s turn of pace is certainly surprising given its size. The steering, too, is neither too sharp nor too heavy. It’s a Goldilocks of a car, this, with performance, steering and ride that is neither too focused nor wayward – it’s just right.

Given its proportions are closer to an ocean liner than a conventional car, the Flying Spur demands attention wherever it goes. However, it isn’t flash nor shouty like a supercar, and is far more refined in its looks. It’s something to appreciate, with the solid metal finishers appealing to those who like to see some proper old-school attention to detail. The ability to raise and lower the flying ‘B’ on the bonnet is a really cool feature, too.

Our car also came in a classy dark green shade with the colour mirrored on the leather inside. It made for a distinctly premium-looking thing.

It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to the cabin of the Flying Spur. The overall quality of the materials is top-notch, with high-end metals combining with soft, waxy leather to create a place that feels genuinely special. The seating position is good too, while the seats themselves offer a decent amount of support as well as heating and massage functions.

But this isn’t just a driver’s car, after all, as sitting in the back is one of the best spots in the house. There’s loads of legroom and plenty of space to stretch out, and Bentley offers the option to select two dedicated seats back there to deliver a real first-class feel. That said, even the ‘regular’ seats are supremely comfortable.

Like many cars in this class, the Flying Spur’s specification can be as rich and as varied as your imagination, with all manner of exterior colours and interior finishes available. It comes down to how much you’re wanting to spend on optional extras, but even as standard the Flying Spur feels like a real occasion of a car.

This engine suits the Flying Spur. Though it does lose some of the silky-smooth character that you can only get from the tip-top W12, you don’t feel like you’re missing out by making the swap in powertrain.

It’s still a real event to drive and it’s an event to be around, too. In fact, though big saloon Bentleys have traditionally been cars to be driven in rather than drive, the Flying Spur is one you’ll happily get behind the wheel of.

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