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The 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid Plugs Into a More Responsible Future

The 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid Plugs Into a More Responsible Future

The electric revolution will be blissfully silent

  • New plug-in hybrid powertrain added to Flying Spur lineup
  • Flying Spur is now the second hybrid in Bentley's stable
  • Plug-in's combined output of 536 horsepower is marginally less potent than the V8
  • Part of the third Flying Spur generation introduced for 2020

What is the Flying Spur?

Bentley's lineup currently consists of three vehicles: an SUV (Bentayga), a coupe/convertible (Continental GT) and a classically Bentley body style — the Flying Spur sedan. Last redesigned just two years ago, the new Flying Spur debuted with a massively powerful 12-cylinder engine under the hood. For 2021, a V8 joined the lineup, giving buyers the opportunity to select a Flying Spur that was less expensive, lighter and consumed less fuel in exchange for slightly slower acceleration.

But neither of these thirsty powertrains was truly in line with Bentley's recently unveiled Beyond100 strategy — a plan to make all Bentleys plug-in hybrids or fully electric by 2026. With the future of the brand in mind, the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur will be available for the first time as a plug-in hybrid.

How does the Flying Spur Hybrid drive?

The 2022 Bentley Flying Spur draws power from a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that is paired with an electric motor/generator that is fed by an 18-kWh battery. Combined, they produce 536 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. On paper, that's a mere 6 hp and 15 lb-ft less than the V8-powered Flying Spur. Bentley estimates the Hybrid will reach 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, which is only one-tenth of a second slower than the V8.

The Flying Spur Hybrid is estimated to return 24.9 miles of electric-only range, according to the European WLTP standard. Bentley estimates it will take 2.5 hours to fully charge the battery from empty on a fast charger. With a full charge, our test vehicle showed 31 miles of EV range and in mixed city and highway driving, that estimate seemed accurate. It's important to note that even when we engaged the EV Drive mode, the gasoline-powered V6 engine would occasionally activate when we applied more than a moderate amount of throttle.

When driven conservatively, as is appropriate, the Flying Spur Hybrid silently glides away from a stop. When more aggressive acceleration is commanded, the big sedan responds immediately with the electric motor, followed by the V6 engine springing to life to contribute more power. The two stages of acceleration are heard more than felt, as the transition between them is relatively seamless. Under moderate acceleration, it was difficult to tell when the V6 was activated at all.

As a large premium luxury sedan that tips the scales past 5,500 pounds, the Flying Spur Hybrid isn't the type of vehicle you'd want to drive aggressively on a twisting mountain pass. That said, it handles exceptionally well, instilling confidence though not encouraging sports car-like antics. Body roll is well managed, and the brakes are easy to modulate.

Overall, the Flying Spur Hybrid behaves just as it should. As much as we love the subtle burble of a V8 or W12 engine, we love the silence of electric propulsion even more.

How comfortable is the Flying Spur Hybrid?

If the Flying Spur Hybrid were any more comfortable, we'd be in danger of falling asleep. The suspension ably erases all but the biggest potholes while not feeling overly soft. The front seats are perfectly shaped for hours of blissful touring, especially if you activate the massage functions. If we were to field any complaint (nitpick, actually), it would be a slight intrusion from the door frame into the armrest if your seat is positioned far enough back.

The rear seats are almost as comfortable, though initially you might feel as though you're sitting a bit higher than expected. There's a wealth of legroom to stretch out and recline in the well-cushioned seats. As noted earlier, the hybrid powertrain is effectively silent. As a result, road noise is easier to detect, but it's still well abated on coarse asphalt and cobblestones. Wind noise is absent, even at highway speeds.

Comfort is obviously the Flying Spur's reason for being, and this new Hybrid is as decadently blissful as any ultra-premium vehicle we've experienced. The silence of electric-only propulsion exceeds the already high expectations.

How's the Flying Spur Hybrid's interior?

Speaking of expectations, we admittedly hold Bentleys to unreasonably high standards of perfection and every time we're left gleefully impressed. Every stitch in the flawless leather coverings is impeccable, and even the scent of the cabin evokes memories of a brand-new premium handbag or steamer trunk. The knobs feature immaculate diamond knurling to match the gem-like faceted motif found in the headlights and door panels, while the switches respond with a satisfying and consistent click. Bentley gets the details right every time.

As is the case with its stablemates, clients can configure their Flying Spur Hybrid to their heart's content, choosing from a dizzying array of customization options or ordering "off-the-menu," at a cost, of course. Our particular Hybrid featured glorious engine-turned metal accent panels that shimmer like a silver caviar sturgeon in the sunlight. We're also partial to the numerous open-pore wood options that add visual warmth and richness.

On the other hand, we're generally not fans of piano black or other highly reflective surfaces on the center console, but in the Flying Spur it seems acceptably appropriate. We would love to see different options in the future, though.

How's the Flying Spur Hybrid's tech?

At a time where many automakers are touting next-generation technology only to leave us disappointed or frustrated, the Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid is refreshingly realistic with thoughtful execution. There's no mention of self-driving vaporware or promises of life-changing features. Instead, this Bentley relies on what works and strives to improve upon it.

All of the typical advanced safety features are standard and we never encountered any false alarms or intrusive actions. These systems operate in the background and only make themselves known when needed, letting you enjoy the drive undisturbed.

The infotainment system is easy to use after only a short while, and there are plenty of physical shortcut buttons to eliminate the hunt for features that are emblematic of rival systems that rely solely on a touchscreen. The Flying Spur's large touchscreen emerges from a rotating panel upon startup. A novelty, yes, but one that brings us joy. A more usable feature is the EV range indicator displayed on the navigation map. An irregular green perimeter (dubbed the "fried egg" by Bentley internally) shows the estimated distance you could travel on electricity alone and adjusts according to how you're driving.

How's the Flying Spur Hybrid's storage?

With the addition of the hybrid batteries, the trunk's capacity of 12 cubic feet is marginally smaller than the 14.8 cubic feet of the non-hybrid Flying Spurs. The loss is negligible as there's still plenty of room for large suitcases or other bulky cargo. In the passenger space, cupholders are sensibly sized, complemented by moderately accommodating door pockets and a center armrest bin. There's also a wireless charging pad with a rubberized surface to keep larger Max-sized phones from sliding around.

Edmunds says

The 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid exceeds our lofty expectations for luxury and performance. In Bentley's path toward producing all-electric vehicles exclusively, this is a very good omen.