Full 2014 Bentley Flying Spur Review
What's New for 2014
The Bentley Flying Spur is redesigned for 2014.
When megabuck luxury sedans like the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur (formerly the ContinentalFlying Spur) get redesigned, the changes are typically evolutionary in nature. And in the case of the previous Flying Spur, the car already boasted a 552-horsepower twin-turbo W12 engine, an exquisitely detailed interior, tons of passenger space and a 195 mph top speed. Suffice it to say that this wasn't an ultra-luxury sedan in dire need of an overhaul.
But there were indeed a few kinks for Bentley to iron out. For one, the previous car's styling was looking a little dated -- no small thing in this rarefied class of sedans, where design details can make or break a purchase decision. The Flying Spur's aging infotainment display was no great shakes, either. Also, as impressive as those 552 horses were on paper, they didn't add up to much of a real-world performance advantage over many of the cheaper (and lighter) luxury sedans sold by the less elite carmakers.
So there was good reason to go back to the drawing board, and the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur has emerged with significant improvements. The previous sedan's somewhat awkward proportions have been replaced by a striking short-nose, long-tail profile that mimics the shape of rival rear-wheel-drive sedans, even though the Bentley remains all-wheel drive. The front- and rear-end styling is new as well, and the classy rectangular taillights are an especially nice touch. Under the hood, the twin-turbo W12 engine pumps out a more palatable 616 horses and can attain 200 mph, while the old six-speed automatic transmission has been replaced by a modern eight-speed automatic that aids both acceleration and fuel economy. And in technology news, the Flying Spur's new 8-inch touchscreen electronics interface offers crisper graphics than the old unit and borrows Google Earth integration from the Audi parts bin.
If there's one intangible the Flying Spur picked up in the process, it's presence, and that's a big deal in this exclusive segment. No longer merely a four-door Continental GT, the 2014 Flying Spur has the sort of stand-alone, gotta-have-it swagger that sells itself. The list of similarly distinguished sedans (leaving aside the top-tier Phantom and Mulsanne) is short and sweet: There's the Rolls-Royce Ghost, a BMW-bred bruiser with V12 power, and there's the new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which helps fill the void left by the discontinued Maybach brand, particularly in 621-hp S65 guise. Both rivals are fine luxury sedans of course, but if nothing less than peak prestige will do, the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur answers the bell like its predecessor frankly never could.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Bentley Flying Spur is a high-performance ultra-luxury sedan offered in one well-equipped trim level.
Standard features include 19-inch wheels, an adjustable air suspension, automatic bi-xenon headlamps, LED running lights and taillights, power-folding heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, a power trunk lid, keyless ignition and entry, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a Breitling analog dashboard clock, front and rear parking sensors, four-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated multi-way power front and rear seats (with adjustable lumbar and massage functions), power rear sunshades and leather upholstery. Also standard are an 8-inch front touchscreen, a hard-drive-based navigation system, voice control, a wireless remote that allows rear occupants to control various infotainment functions, Bluetooth connectivity and an eight-speaker CD/DVD audio system with a digital media interface, an SD card reader and satellite radio.
The Mulliner specification adds 21-inch wheels (or any other kind of wheel you'd like, Bentley says), a chrome lower front bumper with wing insert, a choice of 17 diamond-quilted perforated interior hides (including a presumably non-literal "Porpoise" decor option) and six wood veneers, an indented leather headliner, a knurled shift knob, drilled alloy pedals and a special gas tank cap.
A sunroof is a no-cost option; carbon-ceramic brakes, meanwhile, are a five-figure option. Surprisingly, a rearview camera also costs extra. Other options include various wheel designs from 19 to 21 inches, special paint, flip-down wooden picnic tables for rear passengers (with or without vanity mirrors), upgraded stitching, a two-passenger rear compartment with a full-length center console, a three-spoke steering wheel, lambswool carpeting, adaptive cruise control, a refrigerator, a rear entertainment system with twin display screens, WiFi connectivity and a 13-speaker Naim sound system.
Powertrains and Performance
The Flying Spur is powered by a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine rated at 616 hp and 590 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic, and all-wheel drive is standard. According to Bentley, launching from zero to 60 mph consumes 4.3 seconds.
Fuel economy checks in at 15 mpg combined (12 city/20 highway), a modest improvement over last year's Continental Flying Spur.
The 2014 Bentley Flying Spur is equipped with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, a driver knee airbag, full-length side curtain airbags and both front and rear side airbags. Oddly, the Flying Spur is relatively bereft of the latest high-tech safety features (whereas the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is chock full of them), though adaptive cruise control is available.
Interior Design and Special Features
As expected of a Bentley, the Flying Spur's interior is one of the finest in the world, highlighted by hand-fitted leather upholstery, lovingly polished wood trim and supple surfaces just about everywhere else. You can see the German influence in the numerous black plastic buttons that dot the Flying Spur's dashboard, but overall, this is about as close to yachtlike opulence as you're going to get in a luxury sedan. The vast array of options for additional leather and wood trim adds to the sense of exclusivity. There's a real possibility that the Flying Spur you specify will be the only one of its kind, and that's a rare thing these days.
The Flying Spur's new 8-inch touchscreen is crisp and generally responsive, and its hard-drive-based navigation system borrows the excellent Google Earth integration from Audi's MMI Plus system. A novel technology feature is the wireless rear touchscreen remote, which allows dignitaries in back to control various infotainment functions at their discretion. Speaking of the backseat, it accommodates three by default, but the middle position is fixed and rather inhospitable, in contrast to the roomy, power-adjustable outboard seats. We'd be tempted to select the optional two-passenger rear layout with its classier full-length center console.
Trunk space in the Flying Spur measures an unremarkable 15.6 cubic feet.
Thanks to a revised all-wheel-drive system that biases engine torque toward the rear wheels to improve handling, the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur promises a relatively sporty driving experience by segment standards. Remember, the big Bentley's bones are shared with the capable Continental GT, so there's some athleticism here if you look for it. Of course, most Flying Spurs will spend their days trundling down famous boulevards, whether their owners are driving or being driven, and the standard air suspension provides sufficient comfort for this task. Isolation from the outside world is comprehensive at practically any speed, including the mighty W12 engine, which is so quiet that it might as well be electric. The Mercedes V12 has more character, but once the Bentley's smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission finds the right gear, it's hard to argue with the relentless acceleration that follows.