Continental Flying Spur - the sedan version of Continental GT - is
introduced some two years after the coupe. This is very unusual in the
automotive industry because everyone else develop sedans first and then
coupes. In fact, Volkswagen is very clever. If it introduced
Continental Flying Spur two years ago, people could have compared it
with Maybach and Rolls-Royce Phantom. That would have been an up-hill
battle, not easy to establish a successful image for the reborn
Bentley. In contrast, the Continental GT landed on a new market segment
without any competitors. It used its beauty, performance and quality to
attract more than 5,000 sales last year, bringing Volkswagen group the
first profit from its investment in Bentley.
After the successful opening, Bentley can expand the Continental line
to a 4-door sedan. The sales target is 3500 cars in its first full year
of production. That could lift the volume of Bentley to a record 10,000
units. Unbelievable !
You had better to believe,
because Flying Spur is as good as the GT. Basically, the underpinnings
of the cars are the same - the same 560 horsepower twin-turbo 6.0-litre
W12 engine, the same 6-speed automatic transmission, the same
4-wheel-drive system, the same suspensions with adaptive air springs
and variable damping… they are therefore close sisters to Volkswagen
Phaeton. In fact, Volkswagen is going to build the Flying Spur at its
Dresden factory in Germany alongside the Phaeton. This is because the
production line at Crewe (England) is being occupied by the
strong-selling Continental GT while the slow-selling Phaeton leaves a
lot of excess capacity at Dresden.
similarity between the sedan and the GT is not limited to the
mechanical side, but also the packaging and styling. Basically, the
Flying Spur retains all the styling features of the GT, just reshaped
to provide (320 mm) longer wheelbase, (90 mm) taller roof, 4 doors and
more interior volume. Inevitably, its windscreen angle is raised, so is
the rear window angle. To provide a decent luggage space (the GT's boot
is too small), the boot is stretched and made squarer. As a result, the
sedan is 500 mm longer overall than the GT. However, these changes did
little to alter the family look and beautiful styling of the car. In
fact, many people regard the Flying Spur's design is more coherence and
original than the GT.
Inside, the similarity with
Continental GT continues. You can find the same beautiful dashboard,
the same high quality materials and craftsmanship. In terms of
desirability, this cabin can shame a Maybach and make RR Phantom
hopelessly conservative. It combines the best of the two worlds -
Volkswagen group's high-quality standard and the best British
All seats are big and
comfortable, with mass of legroom and headroom - the taller roof gives
Flying Spur so much more freedom than the GT. You can order the Flying
Spur in 5-seat form or 4-seat form, the latter incorporates a
full-length center console running between the two rear seats. However,
you can't find the most luxurious equipment as in Maybach and
Rolls-Royce, because the Bentley is sold for "only" £115,000, or
half the price of the aforementioned rivals.
Amazingly, the sedan is only 90 kg heavier than the coupe, thanks to
some weight cutting measures taken, such as converting the rear
subframe from steel to aluminum. Because the engine is the same, it
goes almost as quick as Continental GT: 0-60 mph takes just 4.9
seconds, while top speed is an astonishing 198 mph.... Wow, that's
faster than Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Gallardo and Porsche 911 GT2 !!
Bentley claims the Continental Flying Spur is the world's fastest
saloon. Of course, on the top of that there are some assumptions: 1) it
talks about top speed rather than acceleration. 2) It assumes the
drivers of Mercedes S65 won't ask AMG to de-limit their cars.
Anyway, Continental Flying Spur is not supposed to be a sports sedan.
The mission of its twin-turbo W12 is to provide ample torque to pull
the 2.5-ton car at ease, no matter at any rpm. In this respect, it is
fully successful. From merely 1600 rpm, the W12 already pumps out its
maximum 479 lbft of torque. This remains constant until 6000 rpm,
enabling an effortless performance that every Bentley customer
appreciates. In fact, the torque bias manner of the engine suits Flying
Spur even more than the GT.
surprise: it even handles and rides better than the GT. The longer
wheelbase and tail help its chassis to achieve better balance. In
addition to revised damper setting and uprated anti-roll bars, the
Flying Spur turns into corner keener and displays less understeer. At
the same time, it retains the other qualities of the GT, that is,
4-wheel drive traction, precise and well-weighted steering and
reassuring braking from the monster-size, 405 mm diameter front discs.
High speed traveling on motorway reveals good stability, thanks to the
diffusers incorporated under the tail.
The ride quality from the adaptive air suspensions is good, if not in
the league of Mercedes S-class and Lexus LS430. The cabin is not as
well insulated as these cars too, because there is too much wind noise
entering the cabin. Strangely, Volkswagen did not apply the
noise-insulation experience learned from the Phaeton to the Bentley. In
terms of refinement, the Continental Flying Spur is a bit
Another problem is the appalling fuel consumption, officially rated at
16 mpg but could be lower in real world. That limit the traveling range
to 250 miles or less. Ridiculously, Continental Flying Spur is not all
that suitable for flying over the continent.
That said, the new Bentley saloon is still an excellent luxurious car.
Being beautifully styled and impeccably built, it is definitely the
most desirable luxurious car on the market regardless of price. Mass
production cars like Mercedes S-class and BMW 7-Series can never
threaten it because they lack the exclusivity of the Bentley. Maybach
and Rolls-Royce cost double the price, so they are not competitors too.
That means Bentley once again slipped into a new market segment.
Undoubtedly, it will be another great success.
above report was last updated on 22 May 2005. All Rights Reserved.
Continental Flying Spur Speed
|Who needs a 200 mph limousine ?
Continental Flying Spur has introduced a mild facelift recently. As you
can spot the difference from photos, let me concentrate on what really
interesting – the new Speed model. Like Continental GT Speed, the Speed
model of Continental Flying Spur is powered by a 610-horsepower version
of the twin-turbo W12 engine. Its 50-horses extra punch gives the
luxury saloon an astonishing top speed of 200mph, 0-60mph in 4.4
seconds and 0-100mph in 10.5 seconds. Apart from a de-restricted
Mercedes SL65 AMG, you won't find any other unmodified luxury cars
faster than it.
You might question why we need a 200mph limousine. Yes, in everyday
driving it is almost impossible to sense the difference between 610
horsepower and 560 horsepower, especially both engines produce
mountains of torque at rev barely above idle. The only implication of
the superiority of Speed is through your ears, as its exhaust sounds
more sporty. Few people would describe the standard Flying Spur as
slow. However, on this planet there is a kind of creatures called
"millionaires". They always pursue more power and higher performance
regardless of needs or price. As long as these creatures exist, there
will be demand for a 200 mph limousine.
To match the extra performance, the Speed has a firmer suspension
setting, 10 mm drop in ride height, a rigidly-mounted steering rack,
returned power steering and 20-inch Pirelli P-Zero tires to provide a
sportier handling. Besides, like the facelifted standard car, it gets
upgraded bushings, sound insulation and thicker glass to reduce road
noise transferred into the cabin. As a result, the Speed is
simultaneously sportier and more refined. Its steering becomes more
direct, if still not truly feelsome. Body control is considered to be
excellent for a car so heavy. However, it still can't quite match the
lighter limousines from AMG. Frankly, we would prefer it to lose 10
percent weight instead of adding 10 percent power.
Anyway, if you prefer the style, craftsmanship and exclusivity of this
Bentley, you will be delighted with its new found performance, handling
and comfort. It is better than ever.
above report was last updated on 27 Jun 2008. All Rights Reserved.