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Bentley Continental Flying Spur (2013) first official pictures

By Phil McNamara

First Official Pictures

20 February 2013 09:00

Here’s the second-generation Flying Spur limousine, a refreshingly modernised Bentley that will take the fight to the Rolls-Royce Ghost and Mercedes’ new S-class. The exterior is transformed by crisply pressed surfaces, the interior is packed with cutting-edge multi-media features and the W12 drivetrain promises lashings of extra power and better economy. In fact the Flying Spur, which starts deliveries in June for £140,900, is the fastest and most powerful Bentley four-door in history.

A new, standalone identity for the Flying Spur

The previous generation Flying Spur was very much a stretched, four-door version of the Continental GT coupe, with gawky looks. Bentley says this Flying Spur is a standalone model rather than a member of the Continental family, and the design certainly bears that out. The proportions are transformed: it looks much wider and lower, even though the roofline is marginally higher. And the rear-end is very clean and modern, transformed by a crisply pressed boot edge, sculpted wings, and the rear lamps flipping from vertical to horizontal, which visually widen the stance.

Does that mean the Flying Spur is the work of new Bentley designer Luc Donckerwolke? Not remotely – he only arrived in September. But he approves of the new limo: ‘The front has a prominent grille, 3D arrow-shaped [bonnet], real width: elements to accentuate the horizontal stance of the car.’ And he particularly likes the complex aluminium panels, and the lack of ornamentation.

What’s under the skin?

Bentley overhauled the first-generation platform to create the Flying Spur II. Rolf Frech, Bentley engineering chief, says: ‘We re-engineered every aspect of the car to create the ultimate luxury performance sedan.’ The new bodyshell is 4% stiffer than its predecessor’s although the structure is 50kg lighter, and the shape is more aerodynamic, with a drag coefficient of 0.29.

The upshot is a 12-cylinder car that reduces CO2 and fuel consumption by 13%, posting combined economy of 19.2mpg and 343g/km of CO2. Hardly figures to save the planet, but a V8 version is coming, and a Bentley is designed for effortless, prodigious performance after all. The twin-turbo 6.0-litre W12 delivers peak power of 616bhp at 2000rpm, and 580lb ft of torque at just 2000rpm. An eight-speed ZF gearbox sends power to all four wheels: the standard torque split is 40:60 front:rear, but up to 85% can be channeled rearwards.

With all that power and grip, acceleration off-the-line is monstrous: 0-60mph takes just 4.3secs. Top speed is 200mph. But there’s been a focus on refinement and comfort too. The air suspension’s spring rates are softer, as are the anti-roll bars to improve wheel impact absorption. And softer suspension bushes are one of many measures to eliminate road noise, including acoustic glass, aero-optimised underbody panels, and enlarged rear mufflers to reduce exhaust noise.

A cabin to pamper passengers

The dashboard looks trad Bentley, but only the sun visors, grab handles, arm rests and some switches are carried over from the Mk1 Flying Spur. The wraparound wood veneer up front is beautiful craftsmanship: almost 10m-squared of natural wood is lavished on each car.

It’s in the rear that the car feels cutting-edge: each rear seat pocket contains hardware with USB, HDMI and SD connections, plus a DVD slot. Passengers can choose what they watch on individual iPad-style screens, with the infotainment controlled via a touch-screen remote control. The Bentley can be set up as Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling laptops and other devices to connect to the internet. And the rear seats can be configured for five- or four-seats. Resting on sumptuous leather seats and with plenty of legroom and headroom, they aren’t going to be complaining…