Full 2008 Bentley Continental Flying Spur Review
What's New for 2008
The 2008 Bentley Continental Flying Spur gains a revised stability control system, a back-up camera, standard satellite radio and some additional exterior and interior color choices, among other minor upgrades.
It's hard to go wrong these days if you're willing to spend well in excess of $100,000 on a luxury sedan. Take cars like the Rolls-Royce Phantom, Maybach 57 and Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG for a spin and you'll find that there's really not a bad one in the bunch. This poses a challenge for luxury automakers, as it's difficult to stand out in such impressive company. Nonetheless, with the assistance of parent company Volkswagen, the 2008 Bentley Continental Flying Spur pulls it off, offering up a distinctive combination of S65-like performance along with enough classic British luxury to rival the more sedate Phantom and Maybach.
Essentially a four-door version of Bentley's Continental GT coupe, the Flying Spur has sporting bloodlines that are readily apparent in its breathtaking power and athletic handling and braking. The twin-turbo W12 engine whisks the Flying Spur to a stratospheric top speed of 195 mph, making it the fastest four-door sedan currently in production. In braking tests from 60 to zero, the big Bentley repeatedly stopped in about 116 feet, which is more befitting a sports car than a luxury barge. It also weaved through our slalom cones at a brisk 65.1 mph, just 0.1 mph slower than the Continental GT coupe.
At the same time, the Flying Spur's lavish cabin is also world-class, with leather or wood trim adorning virtually every visible surface. Bentley says that installing said trim on the steering wheel alone requires five hours of labor -- and it feels like it, too. Some of the Volkswagen/Audi-sourced switchgear strikes us as a bit mundane for the Bentley brand, but it's certainly more functional than the company's interior bits of yore. And while the Flying Spur may not be able to match the sheer curbside presence of the imposing Maybach, let alone the downright intimidating Phantom, its elegant lines and proportions leave no doubt as to its ultraluxury credentials.
At a base price of $170,990, or roughly half that of the Rolls-Royce or Maybach, the 2008 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is a compelling package. It might even be the closest thing to a bargain that this exclusive segment has to offer.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is a high-performance ultraluxury sedan. Only one trim level is available. As one might expect, standard equipment abounds, including 19-inch wheels, an adjustable air suspension, bi-xenon headlamps, four-zone automatic climate control, heated rear seats with lumbar massage and 16-way power front seats with heating, cooling and lumbar massage. Also standard is a 12-speaker CD sound system, satellite radio, a DVD navigation system, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a PETA-defying 11 cows' worth of leather upholstery.
Options include power-adjustable rear seats with a full rear center console, flip-down wooden picnic tables for rear passengers, a heated steering wheel and a back-up camera. The Mulliner Driving Specification package includes special 20-inch wheels, diamond-quilted leather, twin 7-inch LCD screens for rear passengers and lambswool carpeting. Buyers of non-Mulliner models can choose from 17 different leather hues, seven wood veneers and a dizzying array of exterior paints.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2008 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is motivated by a twin-turbo W12 that pumps out 552 hp and 479 pound-feet of torque. Peak torque arrives at an impressively low 1,600 rpm. With the assistance of a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, this mechanical marvel torpedoes the burly Bentley from zero to 60 mph in a scintillating 4.8 seconds. Steering-wheel paddle shifters are present, but given the automatic's seamless performance and the relatively slow-witted responses of the paddles, we doubt owners will employ them on a regular basis.
The Flying Spur comes standard with side and side curtain airbags front and rear. A passenger-sensing system in the rear seats automatically raises the rear headrests to ensure the best possible protection against whiplash injuries. ABS, traction control and stability control are also standard equipment. For 2008, the stability control system has been upgraded and now offers a less restrictive "sport traction" mode.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2008 Bentley Continental Flying Spur's leather- and lumber-lined cabin won't win any awards from environmentalists or animal rights activists, but it's still one of the most exquisitely constructed automotive interiors on the market today. Unlike Bentleys from the pre-Volkswagen era, there's plenty of nicely integrated up-to-date technology in the Flying Spur, and thanks to the Volkswagen/Audi parts bin, most controls are well-organized and straightforward. Rear legroom, however, is comparatively scarce.
With its hushed ride and adjustable air suspension, the 2008 Bentley Continental Flying Spur feels at home on both Texas-flat freeways and serpentine secondary roads. Thrust from the W12 is prodigious, and body control is exemplary for such a large and luxurious sedan. The Flying Spur's steering feels a bit disconnected from the road, but that's pretty much par for the course in this segment. Aside from the less opulent S65 AMG, this is as sporting as the ultraluxury sedan driving experience gets.