What Is It?
2020 Bentley Flying Spur First Look
When You Need a Massage at 207 MPH
The 2020 Bentley Flying Spur represents the beginning of the third Flying Spur generation and a full ground-up redesign of Bentley's big sedan. The Flying Spur is essentially a four-door version of the recently redesigned Continental GT, so many improvements from the newest Continental GT carry over to the Flying Spur, including a new platform and more power from the twin-turbo W12.
The 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder engine now makes 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque — an increase of 59 lb-ft over the previous range-topping W12 S model. While that might not seem like much, Bentley says the extra boost under the hood is good for a 3.7-second sprint to 60 mph, which is considerably quicker than the previous model's 4.2-second estimate. This hard-charging luxo-barge can accelerate all the way up to 207 mph, for drivers who live somewhere without laws or turns.
Other under-the-skin enhancements include a three-chamber dynamic air suspension, active anti-roll bars, and increased use of aluminum and high-strength steel that combine to create a stiffer chassis, which should be more engaging than the previous model. An eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and four-wheel steering (for executing tighter turns in parking lots) are also new for 2020.
Buyers not concerned with sporting pretensions will be more impressed by improvements to the cabin. Up front, occupants ensconced in the heated, ventilated and massaging seats enjoy a 12.3-inch touchscreen loaded with the latest Audi-derived infotainment system. If staring at a dashboard dominated by a touchscreen isn't your style, the screen rotates on a horizontal axis to reveal a panel with three inset analog dials. Or you can select the third fascia, which simply consists of the wood veneer used throughout the rest of the cabin.
While the Continental GT coupe and convertible put the driver first, the Flying Spur extends the focus to rear-seat passengers. Outboard seats receive the same heating, ventilation and massage functions as their counterparts up front, while a removable center tablet gives passengers control over climate, power window blinds and configurable ambient lighting. Regardless of seating position, occupants will enjoy a wheelbase 5 inches longer than the previous model, allowing for more legroom all around.
Why Does It Matter?
Ultra-luxury carmakers are locked in a race for the top, offering more features, more capability, more opulence, more exclusivity, and ever higher prices. Right now, the ceiling to any of these things seems to be the limits of engineering and imagination, rather than workaday concerns such as budget or common sense. Bentley's big sedan has been in major need of an overhaul for a while, as under its high-rent skin the previous generation remained based on an old front-wheel-drive Volkswagen platform. In order for Bentley to stay on the cutting edge of the high-dollar market, the Flying Spur needs to be a bespoke home run.
What Does It Compete With?
The 2020 Bentley Flying Spur competes with the usual set of uber cars (not to be confused with Uber cars): Either of the Mercedes-Maybach sedans — the V8-powered S 560 or V12-driven S 650 — is a good choice, as are the BMW 7 Series and related Alpina B7. The Porsche Panamera is an extremely capable sport sedan that prioritizes the driving experience, as does the Maserati Quattroporte (though it ultimately feels less refined than its German competitors).
The biggest rival the Flying Spur faces is from a competing marque just a couple hundred miles south of Bentley's Crewe headquarters in England. The Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II is one of the most desirable luxury vehicles on the planet, with an even greater list of features and craftsmanship that is second to none.
It's not often that ultra-luxury cars are fully redesigned, and it's even rarer that a prestige automaker revises its entire lineup over just a few years. But late-stage capitalism has given us the gift of a Bentley renaissance, which began with the introduction of the Bentayga SUV, followed by a reworking of the Continental GT coupe and convertible. The full line redesign continues with the crew from Crewe delivering the third-generation Flying Spur.
The 2020 Bentley Flying Spur has been redesigned with even more incredible levels of performance and even more luxurious cabin accommodations as part of the brand's push to reclaim some space at the top of the ultra-luxury heap. Based on what we've seen so far, now is a great time to have more money than you know what to do with.