As we’re sitting here, doing nearly 200 kph in a 2014 Bentley Flying Spur, sometimes it makes us wonder if a big car like this really needs the ability to do 200 kph. Or even 320 kph, which is the rated top speed of this redesigned limousine. How about the ability to do 0-100 kph in well under 5 seconds? In a car designed to carry royalty!
Bentley folks will argue that the Flying Spur is intended to be driven by its owner as well, rather than just for sitting in the rear. And they’d be right. This car is simply a four-door version of the sporting Continental GT, albeit now with more differentiated styling and also without the “Continental” in its name.
Speaking of changes, the Flying Spur’s central frame appears to be the same, but the engineers have now made more use of aluminium up front and composites for the boot lid, in a bid to reduce weight and improve weight distribution, although not by a whole lot.
The cabin is largely unchanged from the previous model, except for the updated VW-sourced touchscreen. The entire dashboard has a sense of familiarity, since it is shared with the Continental GT as well. Of course, the Flying Spur has tons more space, although the huge boot is hampered by a couple of oversized speakers. The top-to-bottom leather upholstery can be customised in several colour combinations, and all the expected features are there, such as massage seats, navigation, premium stereo and all that. There’s a unique new control-interface feature for rear passengers that’s designed by Bentley itself, basically a detachable smartphone-like touchcreen that can control the stereo, four-zone a/c and other things.
After a brief unintentional driving test involving going down several floors of cramped parking ramps at a hotel, the extra-large cars made it out of there fine and hit the highway, looking like a high-speed convoy for political delegates.
The ride is very comfortable, obviously, thanks to the adaptive air suspension that can even be raised in height. There is a tinge of firmness from the low-profile tyres, but most road surfaces are flattened with ease. And wind noise starts to become noticeable only at speeds beyond 120 kph. Mind you, it is way too easy to hit illegal speeds at the touch of the throttle pedal, with a surge of turbocharged power. With 616 hp and 800 Nm of torque from a 6.0-litre W12 motor, what else can you expect?
The Flying Spur can be fun to throw around occasionally. The steering is light at times, but weighty at higher speeds. Responses are a bit dull, and feedback is nearly non-existent, but this big land-yacht handles itself rather excellently. With all-wheel-drive, fat tyres, and tighter suspension at the press of a button, the Bentley is nearly unflappable, as long as you keep your corner entry-speeds in check. The firm brake pedal controls some massive disc brakes, hauling the car down with the authority of a sports car. Make no mistake, the car’s 2.5-tonne weight can be felt on the Hatta mountain roads we were pounding the car on, but it can still outrun all sorts of smaller sedans.
We’re big fans of the Continental GT, and the Flying Spur is almost as satisfying to drive, while offering all the practical benefits of the larger soft-handling Mulsanne. Among its similarly-priced peers, this is definitely not a bad way to spend Dhs 1 million on a car.
Event photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury.