The Bentley Continental Flying Spur
The Car Family
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The realization of what you are driving while at the wheel of a Bentley Flying Spur sedan comes the moment you pull up to the stop light and note that the value of the other six cars waiting for the light to change are less than the value of your Bentley. And why not? This is the penultimate sedan. It makes the ponderous Maybach, outlandish Rolls Royce, and indistinguishable Mercedes-Benz S65 pale in comparison despite the fact that all three cost more. Not to mention that the Bentley is said to be the world’s fastest sedan with a top speed in excess of 190 mph. No amount of Grey Poupon can cover up that performance.
As an owner, you are the man, big daddy, in the catbird’s seat, on top of the world. The Bentley is the hammer and deserves a lane for itself on every highway so the working stiffs of the world can see what they are working towards.
Okay, we were smitten, but why not. This is a family man’s dream. An other worldly fast vehicle that can hold five adults in comfort, has a large cargo bay, a wood and leather interior that is elegantly understated, massaging heated and cooled seats, a V 12 engine that can get you to 100 km in about five seconds, and a stereo that is terrific. All you need to do is pony up the $172,000 (US), extend your gas credit card limit and hide that radar detector.
Mom’s view: The Bentley engine makes the best sound of any vehicle in the world. It is a combination of Orson Wells, Barry White, and James Earl Jones. When parking at night the Bentley is surrounded with puddle lights that make you feel much safer. Did I love driving this creation? You bet. It parks very easily, the valet always places it in front, and the acceleration is smooth and adult. And, just in case you forgot about the famous California crash of an Enzo Ferrari, well that two-seat, million dollar sports car gets to 60 mph about a second quicker and goes 20 miles per hour faster than the Bentley. The Flying Spur sedan is nearly as fast and costs hundreds of thousands less. Of course, obectivity doesn’t matter in cars of this magnitude. However, I wouldn’t want to be the Ferrari owner who spent a goodly amount to own a super car only to find he’s not able to accelerate away from a middle aged woman driving a big sedan who is adjusting her massage seat.
Of course, as any woman knows, nothing manmade is perfect. The car tires are noisy over rough pavement, the Bentley feels and is 5500 pounds heavy, the gauges are difficult to read, and the GPS simply does not work well. Oh, and the worst problem is that I can’t afford one.
College going male’s view: The Flying Spur is a math trivia fan’s delight. What sedan has 552 horsepower, a V 12 engine, twin turbochargers, 479 lb-ft of torque, all wheel drive, four bi-xenon headlights, a top speed of 194 mph, weighs 5500 pounds, uses 11 cowhides for its interior, has a six speed automatic transmission, 48 valves, 19-inch alloy rims, two batteries in the trunk, does 0 to 60 mph in five seconds, four-zone automatic climate control, holds six CDs in the glove compartment mounted changer, has 16-way power front seats with three-position memory, holds five adults, and is a long 208.9 inches?
The rear seat is the best. You have controls for the seating position you want, your own temperature controls, and the rear windows go down all the way. There are even side and side curtain airbags all around. The car’s heating and cooling system is quiet and efficient and with all wheel drive this car could be used in the winter without any loss of comfort. In fact, if I owned it I would drive it everyday, especially since the three year warranty has unlimited mileage coverage. Of all the cars in the world, the Bentleys appeal to me the most and I didn’t have to go to college to figure that out.
Young working woman’s view: “Want to go for a drive in my Bentley?” Come on ladies, who is not going to have to check that out? It appeal is not in its understated design, but the uniqueness and how comfortable it is to be with. Feeling troubled? A quick, and I mean seriously quick, ride to the mall and your problems dissolve before you reach the shoe section. I love the massaging seats, but most of all I like the way it sounds. Undeniably, Bentley has all the traits of a perfect mate.
Dad’s view: Nearly invisible to the masses, the Bentley Flying Spur is quite capable of creating a new generation of A type personalities with its effortless power. Two levers in back of the steering wheel can control the transmission. It becomes positively addictive to seamless downshift the big sedan from speed or maximize its power with upshifts using these paddle shifters. This is a world-class transmission, and, for that matter, a world-class power train. We seldom recorded over 15 mpg, but at least we knew that we were getting full value for those petrodollars. The Bentley has several ride controls, lowers itself at high speeds, and accelerates like a jet. The trunk is easy to open, holds a massive amount of Big Bertha clubs, and only the placement of the cupholders and ignition key on the left side of the steering wheel provided bothersome. Of course, with time this wouldn’t be a problem to master. Overall, one of the world’s truly great cars and a bargain, too boot.
It has a slow and deliberate pace when just starting out, almost as if someone left the electronically activated parking brake on. Once under way in commuter traffic it plods along diligently. The tire noise can be masked with the superb stereo, but the reality is the wide grippy rubber is just doing its job. If you want quiet switch them out, but don’t expect the same handling prowess. By the way, there are four setting for the suspension system which you control from the dash monitor. We kept it on comfort for most of the time and when we did challenge the road we set it for a firmer ride and there was absolutely no lean on corners. For a car this large this is remarkable. The more I drove it the smaller it seemed to be.
Due to time constraints only once did I really explore its potential and I was a little disappointed. It just simply went fast, very fast, with little or no sensation of speed. Jet like acceleration is the only comparable feeling. Yes, we test tuners and Corvettes and even AMG and M products from Mercedes and BMW respectively, but none have the fluid and linear acceleration of this sedan.
When we were coming back from our photo session we had to pull over five lanes to get to our off ramp. It is one of those highways designed by people who never expected cars to actually use them. Anyway, I cautiously checked my side mirror and noticed a nice opening. Hitting the turn signals and not the shift paddles for a change (they are very close to one another), I floored the Bentley and felt essentially nothing until I looked at the rear view mirror. I was shocked. It looked like everyone had stopped behind me until I looked down at the speedometer and noticed that I was doubling their speed. I quickly let off the accelerator and blended into traffic. I was sold. This is a jewel. And, the brakes are every bit as good as the engine and the resale is probably going to be even better.
Family conference: If you can afford it, the Bentley Flying Spur is a must have. This is the best car in the world for those who enjoy driving, have the need to carry five adults and all their luggage, and find a perverse thrill in being able to fly under the radar. It is heavy on its feet, but once you get used to that it is unmatched for comfort and speed. With Bentley announcing its new convertible, this would be a great time to get on that waiting list too. For a list of vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business.