DUBAI: Handsome is the word that springs to mind to describe Bentley’s new Flying Spur, which is hitting the roads of the Middle East about now. And so very English.
The Anglo-Saxon good looks are obvious from the moment you set eyes on the car. The contours scream elegance and class. They were shown off perfectly in the vehicle I was lucky enough to drive, the color of which was a dark, rich green that combined the tradition of British racing green with a hint of emerald opulence. It really is a show-stopper.
The design engineers have made the bonnet slightly longer by pulling the wheels forward a few centimeters, but it does not look stretched at all — merely powerful. The big Bentley grill, beneath the retractable Flying B mascot, almost looks ready to snarl at any other, smaller cars that dare to get in front of it.
Bentley — which has been owned by Volkswagen of Germany for the past couple of decades but still hand-crafts its cars in Crewe, in the UK — has put a lot of thought, and investment, into the new Flying Spur. The company describes it as a luxury grand tourer, a car for taking long journeys in style.
Bentley also makes great play of the fact that this is a car designed to be driven — or to be driven in. All I can say is that the chauffeur who gets to drive this vehicle all day long is a lucky man, indeed.
The British essence is encapsulated in the driving compartment. The same rich green color theme predominates, but combined with beige and chrome trim that would not be out of place in the drawing room of an English country house.
I was cocooned in elegant luxury, enhanced by an illuminated green strip that runs right around the driving and front-passenger positions, making you and your companion feel all warm and comfortable — almost like an extra, and very subtle, seat belt.
Hit the engine-start button, though, and you are in a different world. The six-liter engine is a W12 configuration — another nod to the motorsports tradition — and gives you a surge of power at the touch of the gas pedal.
Bentley says the drive is “effortless,” and I can attest to that. The Flying Spur brought me up to the speed limit before I even had the chance to look at the windshield display and check how fast I was going. The effort in a Flying Spur, it turns out, is in keeping within the limit, not surpassing it. You can get from standing to 100kph in 3.8 seconds, with a top speed of 333kph that is insane for such a big car.
Although, of course, I never got anywhere near to that velocity, I would imagine that handling, control and suspension must be pretty near perfect even at high speeds. There are four driving modes — sport, custom, comfort and Bentley — that you can select at the touch of a button to change the gearshift, suspension and steering dynamics.
In Bentley mode, which is where I spent most of the time, the drive was as silent as a misty morning on the Sussex Downs, even when nudging the speed limit, and the suspension seemed to glide you along in long undulating waves.
In the rear of the car, with all the comfort and luxury, you might have a hard job staying awake on a long trip. Fortunately there are plenty of gadgets — including video, massage seats and a mini-fridge — to keep you occupied. If you choose to shell out on the higher specifications, you can have virtually any ambiance you desire. A London gentlemen’s club perhaps? That would seem fitting.
Available on the road starting at AED1.3m ($354,000), the Flying Spur is a real gem of a car — and so thoroughly English.