Let s get this out of the way first: the Bentley Continental Flying Spur is a German car. Quite apart from the fact that the Spur is built on the VW Phaeton platform and assembled at their Dresden factory, there s nothing remotely British about that way this leather-lined leviathan goes about its business. It accelerates, stops, turns, changes gear and yes, cossets with what used to be called Germanic precision. From the way the windows lower to the way the speedo ascends, the Spur is a rolling embodiment of the best engineering and manufacturing expertise Britain s former foe can muster.
In fact, the Flying Spur is the world s best German automobile — faster, more luxurious and more dynamically capable than any other Wagnerian sedan extant (including Mercedes phenomenal AMG products and mighty Maybachs). As Rolls Royce is only slightly less German, Japan doesn t have much to say in these matters, and Jaguar is no longer in it to win it, the Bentley Continental Flying Spur qualifies as a top contender for the world s best sedan, period. Here s a quick breakdown
Much of the Flying Spur s character comes from its W12 engine. The powerplant consists of two narrow-angle Volkswagen VR6 s screwed together, with a couple of turbos bolted on for good measure. It s massively powerful (551hp) and endlessly torque-ative (479 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm). Sure, the lump is a reverse consumer (gallons per mile rather than miles per gallon) and sounds more like a turbo-prop than a proper turbo. In this league, all that matters is that the Flying Spur ambles around town like a newly-elected mayor, accelerates like a Porsche 911 Turbo and wafts with imperial ease.
In matters of style, the supersonic Spur looks a bit goofy from some angles. One wonders what commercial VW product donated its tail lights to this project. Even so, the Spur has the proper aristocratic mien for an automotive snob job. Step inside and your neurological pathways are short-circuited by the overwhelming odor of perfectly-tanned cow hide. In fact, the cabin s perfection is inescapable; I challenge the Monica Gellers of this world to find a single missed stitch or unfinished edge anywhere inside the Flying Spur s sensory deprivation chamber. It s endlessly, relentlessly luxurious.
The final piece of the puzzle is, strangely enough, handling. The Flying Spur s air-suspension and four-wheel-drive system deliver a superb combination of ride comfort and body control. Slicing through the corners in this luxobarge is almost as improbable as watching a clinically obese figure skater win an Olympic medal. And yet, there it is: a 5500lbs. luxury car that s not afraid of throwing itself into a bend, copping an attitude and hanging on until the Gods of Understeer figure a head-on collision with the scenery is safer than the alternatives.
In short, what we have here is a failure to assimilate. The Bentley Continental Flying Spur is a stupendously swift, eerily efficient automobile that astounds its occupants even as it chills their souls. It s no more British than Bratwurst. Alternatively, if you were feeling more charitable, you could say that VW distilled the Bentley brand to its essentials and created a meticulous machine that embodies and preserves those ideals. Either way, the Flying Spur is at the top of the world, looking down upon creation, and that s the only explanation I can find. [by Robert Farago]