Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The 2015 Bentley Flying Spur V8

Every time I drive a Bentley, my spirit is elevated. I walk taller, I speak more clearly, I am more composed. This week, after driving the 2015 Bentley Flying Spur V8, I feel smarter, too. I can now confidently recommend my favorite vehicle in the Bentley lineup.A brief refresher on the current Bentley lineup: The Mulsanne stands as the flagship full-size sedan, available in three trim levels. The Flying Spur is the performance sedan, available with a W12 or V8 engine. The Continental comes in ten two-door variants, from GT3 to Convertible. We’re promised an SUV, the Bentayga, in 2016.

On balance, that puts the Flying Spur V8 right smack in the middle of the lineup.

Luxury is a given with Bentley. In the Flying Spur V8, that translates into an incredible level of craftsmanship, fit and finish. Every surface that you encounter is deliciously rich and textured, from the fine leather seats to the gnurled metal buttons and dials. The seating position in the Flying Spur’s driver’s seat is comfortably upright, with knees bent and a good view across the big hood.

Access to the second row is easy, with wide rear door openings and ample leg and head room. The cabin is trimmed with real wood, metal and leather throughout, and the expected amenities like heated/ventilated front seats and LED interior lighting are all present. My test vehicle included additional optional luxuries, like Hand Cross Stitching ($3,860), a Full Length Center Console (($3,995), a Refrigerated Bottle Cooler tucked in the rear seat ($2,180), Veneered Picnic Tables for the rear seats ($2,040), “Naim for Bentley” Premium Audio ($7,630) and Multimedia Rear Seat Entertainment and Connectivity ($7,445), making the Flying Spur an excellent executive conveyance.

The second row of the Spur would serve as a superb mobile office for the busy CEO with a driver. While not as cavernous as the apartment in the rear of the Mulsanne, the Spur’s second row is never cramped, even with the front seats at full extension.

The 4.0-liter V8 engine has great character, even if it doesn’t have the overwhelming thrust of the W-12. Twin turbochargers help to push 500 hp and 488 lb-ft of torque through the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission to a continuous all-wheel drive system with a 40/60 front/rear balance. Claimed 0-60 time is 4.9 seconds, and 100 mph arrives in just 11.2 seconds, which is mighty fast for a 5,341-lb sedan. Top speed (which I did not test) is 183 mph. The EPA estimates that the Flying Spur V8 can achieve 14 mpg city/24 mpg highway/17 mpg combined, which earns the Spur a $1,000 Gas Guzzler Tax.