As if to distance itself from Bentley's sportier coupes, the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur gets the chisel to its sheet metal along with significant upgrades to the cabin and under the hood. The "smaller" sedan in Bentley's lineup also drops "Continental" from its name. The latter seems like a daft move from Bentley to more closely align the Flying Spur with the top-range Mulsanne, while positioning the Continental models as the sporting man's Bentleys.
Ironic, then, that the Spur's nips and tucks borrow heavily from the Continental GT and GTC models. Bentley has pulled more grille from the hood and stood it more upright. A thinner front bumper allows more room for a mesh-covered lower airdam that, along with LED headlights and new 19-inch wheels, adds a touch more aggression to the overall stance. The sides and rear flanks benefit from more pronounced character lines that make the former model seem drab by comparison. The new Flying Spur still looks like a supreme grand tourer, but one that can now actually part the road rather than simply float over it.
It's under the hood and chassis where the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur truly gets more interesting. The twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter 12-cylinder carries over, but now delivers 616 horsepower -- up 64 hp -- and 590 pound-feet of torque, the latter an impressive gain of 111 lb-ft and much of it available from 2,000 rpm. Bentley calls the Flying Spur the fastest, most powerful four-door Bentley model yet, capable of covering zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and topping out at 200 mph.
A ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters replaces the former Spur's six-speed, and connects to an all-wheel-drive system that in normal conditions sends 60 percent of power to the rear wheels. The system can, however, apportion as much as 85 percent to the rears or 65 percent to the front. With chassis stiffness up 4 percent and an adaptive suspension with four driver-selectable settings, the big Bentley also promises better all-around dynamics.
At 5,451 pounds, the new Flying Spur isn't exactly lean, but it is 110 pounds lighter than the outgoing model. Fuel economy then gains incrementally, now at 12 mpg city and 20 mpg highway, according to Bentley, up from 11/19 for the 2013 model.
Available in four- and five-seat configurations, the Flying Spur's cabin is thoroughly worked over. Every possible surface that can be covered in leather remains so, but there's now an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface. All occupants get heated and ventilated seats, and a glass sunroof is a no-cost option. An optional Multimedia Specification package adds Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity, dual 10-inch LCD screens for rear seat passengers and a veritable patch bay of USB, charging and headphone ports. An eight-speaker audio system comes standard, along with the optional premium Naim system.
The 2014 Bentley Flying Spur starts at $200,500, making it an alternative to pricier Aston Martin Rapide and 2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost models, but still farther upwind of the redesigned 2014 Maserati Quattroporte. Bentley dealers are taking orders now for the new Flying Spur, which begins arriving in the U.S. in June. Check back for more on the 2014 Flying Spur, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.