2014 Bentley Flying Spur V8 review
The Bentley Flying Spur is now available with a more efficient V8 engine. It's cheaper than the W12, but is it too compromised for limo buyers? Read our verdict...
The Bentley Flying Spur V8 is the more efficient, more affordable version of the British brand's bruising saloon. It has the same ultra-luxurious interior, but instead of the Flying Spur's traditional W12 engine, it gets the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 motor as the Continental GT.
Don't necessarily think this makes the Flying Spur a bit of a weakling. The engine still has 500bhp and 488lb ft of torque – enough to take this 2.5-tonne saloon from 0-62mph in just 5.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 183mph.
The gains in efficiency and price look hard to dispute, too, with CO2 emissions of 254g/km (instead of the W12's 343g/km) and a starting figure of £136,000.
Such factors aren't necessarily crucial to Bentley buyers, though - so can the rest of the package make the V8 our pick of the Flying Spur range?
What's the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur V8 like to drive?
The V8 Flying Spur feels quick enough in the real world. The V8 engine can shut down some of its cylinders when you're cruising along, helping to save fuel. In practice the system works extremely well, because you'll struggle to hear or feel any difference.
There's more than enough power and torque when you want it, and the V8 produces a suitably sonorous exhaust note when it's being revved - if anything it sounds better than the W12.
The rest of the time it's a hushed companion; at a fast motorway cruise it's pulling not much more than 1100rpm, and you'll have to strain to hear anything coming from under the bonnet at all.
Road noise from the standard 19in alloy wheels is more likely to be an issue - and even then it could hardly be described as painfully intrusive, even if a Mercedes S63 AMG is a little quieter inside.
The eight-speed transmission isn't the quickest-shifting out there, but it's accomplished enough for the sort of tasks you're most likely to ask of it: swift motorway cruising, slow progress around town and mid-range acceleration for overtaking.
The chassis is less accomplished. You get 19in alloy wheels and adjustable air suspension as standard, but even on the most comfortable setting some road imperfections find their way through to the cabin, particularly at low speeds.
However, at least it keeps body lean in bends under reasonable control; you can hustle the Flying Spur along country roads as quickly as you'd want to go in something this big.
What's the 2014 Bentley Continental Flying Spur V8 like inside?
Even though the majority of UK owners will buy a Flying Spur to drive it themselves, Bentley knows that plenty of buyers will be travelling in the back, so that's where they've put in a lot of effort.
The rear windows are a fine way to survey the outside world, whether you're sitting on the standard three-seat bench or optional two-seat layout, which has a central console dividing the rear cabin.
Leg- and shoulder room are especially impressive, and although the swoopier roofline means headroom is slightly restricted, you'd have to be exceptionally tall for this to be an issue.
Rear passengers can adjust their own seats electrically, and there's also an optional feature that allows you to slide the front passenger seat forward from the back to give yourself even more legroom.
There are options to improve the experience further, including a fancy multimedia system with twin 10-inch screens and the ability to control everything from a very smart touch-screen remote that docks in the central console. You can also specify on-board wi-fi, which can link up to six devices to the web, while you can play films, music or photos from a USB stick, an SD card or a DVD.
In the front, the Flying Spur’s wood veneers, organ-stop air vent controls and hand-stitched hide seats punch home the old-money message, as does the analogue Breitling clock on top of the dashboard.
However, given that Bentley has gone to such trouble to create plush surroundings, it’s a pity the switchgear is so low-rent. Most of the buttons on the centre console would look shoddy in a VW Golf, let alone a super-limo.
The infotainment system is also disappointing; it has a dim screen and an unresponsive touch-screen interface; frankly, the system in the latest VW Polo puts it to shame.
Buyers looking for an even more luxurious interior can specify the Mulliner pack for their Flying Spur. It features a knurled gearlever, indented leather headliner, drilled alloy pedals and 20-inch five-spoke wheels.
The Mulliner model also has two fully adjustable armchair-style seats in the back, each with lumbar support and heating.
Should I buy one?
If you're interested in a Flying Spur, then this V8 edition is the one to go for. It's plenty quick enough, refined when it needs to be, and is every bit as luxuriously appointed as the W12 editions inside.
However, in most real-world situations the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a superior device, either to drive or be driven in - and you can get a S63 AMG for less money than even this 'cheaper' Flying Spur.
Good though the Bentley is, we'd be tempted to end up with a three-pointed star on our bonnet instead.
What Car? says...
Bentley Flying Spur V8
Engine size 4.0-litre petrol
Price from £136,000
Torque 488lb ft
0-62mph 5.2 seconds
Top speed 186mph
Fuel economy 25.9mpg