Full 2009 Bentley Continental Flying Spur Review
What's New for 2009
The Bentley Continental Flying Spur returns in 2009 with minor cosmetic revisions, added sound insulation, retuned suspension and steering, adaptive cruise control, enhanced seat comfort, an optional Naim audio system and iPod connectivity.
Plastic surgery is no stranger to Beverly Hills, nor is it to the 2009 Bentley Continental Flying Spur. Like the legion of biological revisionists roaming the palm-tree-lined streets of Rodeo Drive, this four-door Bentley has had some work done. Nothing major, though -- it's more of a touch-up for the nose, chin and headlights, and maybe a little lipo for a more slender tail.
Keeping up appearances is paramount for the Flying Spur, especially considering the formidable competition in the form of the stratospherically priced Maybach 57 and Rolls-Royce Phantom. It's likely that buyer seriously contemplating ownership of any of these ultra-luxury sedans wouldn't offer so much as a raised eyebrow at their multi-$100,000 stickers, but there's no doubt some satisfaction to be gained from knowing that the Bentley Continental Flying Spur costs about half as much.
It's been said that Rolls-Royces are meant to be driven in, while Bentleys are meant to be driven. The Continental Flying Spur maintains that tradition with some truly impressive numbers. With 552 hp, a 0-60-mph time under 5 seconds, stopping from 60 mph in only 116 feet and a top speed of 194 mph, you would think there was a supercar underneath. On top of those figures, the Flying Spur blew through our instrumented slalom test at speeds that rival its two-door Continental GT coupe stablemate. This beauty is definitely more than skin-deep.
Inside, the Continental Flying Spur bathes occupants in sumptuous wood and leather that covers nearly every surface. Since Bentley operates under its parent company of Volkswagen/Audi, the switchgear is much more functional than the fussy knobs and buttons from previous models -- though it must be said that the controls lack a bit of the panache and romance from the past, and they aren't the most intuitive, either.
Stacked up against its Rolls-Royce Phantom and Maybach 57 competitors, the 2009 Bentley Continental Flying Spur definitely has its work cut out. Given that all three of these ultraluxury sedans feature the best of German engineering, there is really no loser among them. Even with the significantly lower cost of admission for the Bentley, the decision comes down to which interpretation of luxury you prefer.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is a high-performance ultraluxury sedan that is offered in one very well-appointed trim level. Standard features include 19-inch wheels, an adjustable air suspension, bi-xenon headlamps, four-zone automatic climate control, heated rear seats with lumbar massage, 16-way power front seats with heating, cooling and lumbar massage, keyless ignition and entry, and a sunroof. Also standard is a 12-speaker sound system with six-CD changer, satellite radio, a navigation system, Bluetooth phone connectivity and leather upholstery that requires a herd-thinning 11 cowhides.
Options include power-adjustable rear seats with a full rear center console, flip-down wooden picnic tables for rear passengers, a full-length three-passenger rear seat, a heated steering wheel, a back-up camera, a rear-seat entertainment system with twin display screens, a power opening and closing trunk, adaptive cruise control, a refrigerated bottle cooler, a 15-speaker Naim sound system and iPod integration. The Mulliner Driving Specification package includes special 20-inch wheels, diamond-quilted leather, contrasting stitching, nostalgic seat piping, drilled alloy sport pedals, twin LCD screens for the rear passengers, a rear-seat bottle cooler and lamb's-wool 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 2009 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is powered by a 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 that produces an astounding 552 hp and 479 pound-feet of torque. Just as impressive as the output numbers is the fact that peak torque is reached at an incredibly low 1,600 rpm. Power is channeled through a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. These features, along with the Flying Spur's all-wheel-drive system, combine to propel all 5,379 pounds of this Bentley to 60 mph in a scant 4.9 seconds. Equally impressive is the top speed of 194 mph. Fuel economy, should anyone care, is EPA-estimated at 10 mpg city/17 highway and 12 combined.
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. Antilock disc brakes, traction control and stability control are also standard equipment. The Flying Spur's stability control has been further enhanced over last year's "sport traction" mode to be less intrusive. Optional carbon ceramic brakes are also now available.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 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. There's a charming old-world feel to the whole affair, highlighted by push-pull vent controls, a Breitling timepiece, and switches and levers constructed of real metal. Unfortunately, the infotainment system is old-world as well -- it's a bit dated, and it shows in the undersized display screen and nonintuitive interface. The rear seats lack the adjustment and advanced features (such as cooling) available in competing sedans. Rear legroom, too, is comparatively scarce.
The 2009 Bentley Continental Flying Spur, with its silent cabin, adjustable suspension and near-supercar top speed, is capable of delivering the sensation of low-level flight rather than cruising down a long stretch of highway. Improbably, it also tackles back-road curves like a much smaller car. Among the Maybach 57 and Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Flying Spur feels spritely in comparison and nearly as sporty as the less opulent Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG. It is unlikely that anyone would need additional power from the W12 power plant, but should the need arise, Bentley also offers the Continental Flying Spur Speed with 600 hp.