New Flying Spur V8 moves like a race car and cruise liner all at once
Bend it like Bentley The Flying Spur V8's steering is ideally weighted and has a fine, linear response. -- ST PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER TAN

My threshold for less-than-perfect traits in a car is fairly high.

Trashy suspension, rough gear changes, spongy brakes, anaemic performance, an incompetent chassis, weak insulation and insipid design seldom rile me.

Neither do bad fit and finish, mechanical glitches, toxic cabin smells, uncomfortable seats, poor space packaging, soulless sound or senseless gadgets.

I can live with all that. Probably not in one car, but not one flaw among those is going to break the deal for me.

Poor steering and an unresponsive throttle, however, are a different kettle of fish. They make my blood boil.

By the same token, a car which excels in these two departments is quite likely a winner in my book.

The Bentley Flying Spur V8 is one such winner. You would not expect the behemoth to display such flair, so it is doubly pleasant that it does.

We are talking about a plus-size sedan measuring 5. 3m front to back, 2m wide and endowed with a wheelbase in excess of 3m. Unoccupied, the Flying Spur weighs more than 2.4 tonnes.

With a cabin that accommodates five plus-size adults and a boot that will swallow their luggage, the Flying Spur is practically a mini-bus. Its gross vehicle weight is nearly 3 tonnes.

To its credit, it drives and handles beautifully. No, not like a car half its size, but with a degree of grace and precision that makes its size irrelevant.

You are aware of its grand presence all the time. But after each twirl around a T-junction and each time it tucks itself into a side road, you wonder how it manages to stay in lane and how cohesive its chassis feels in the process.

Passengers are not shaken, much less stirred - not unlike those onboard a luxury cruise liner.

The car's air suspension (with adjustable damping) does a remarkable job of keeping things on even keel. You do not have to slow down to turtle pace to take a corner. Its permanent all-wheel-drive system helps, no doubt.

Its steering is ideally weighted and has a fine, linear response that inspires confidence. There is hardly an instance where you need to correct mid-turn. Point to where you want to go and the car follows obediently from head to tail. All the time.

Straight-line stability is equally impressive. You dispense with the minor adjustments that are invariably necessary. The titan just goes on and on, unperturbed by camber of the road or minor surface blemishes.

It makes long hauls absolutely effortless.

So does its twin-turbocharged 4-litre V8. On paper, it pales in comparison to the 6-litre twin-turbo W12 found in the first Flying Spur.

But in real life, a deficit of 116 horses is not really apparent. The V8 takes 5.2 seconds to accomplish the century sprint - still mightily quick, even though it is 0.6 seconds behind the W12.

The V8, mated to an eight-speed ZF transmission, responds to your right foot as flawlessly as its steering responds to your hands. You get predictable and seamless acceleration, on tap, with none of the momentary hesitancy associated with turbos.

In fact, it is more of a driver's car than the W12 on the whole. It feels more balanced, more light-footed and more involving at the helm.

With its brilliant steering and throttle response, the Flying Spur V8 is a luxury. Clean getaways from the lights, fuss-free merging, care-free cornering and comfortable motoring on an open highway or bumper-to-bumper traffic.

So much so that its other luxuries become almost incidental. Its expansive leather-lined cabin, resplendent with wood and chrome, exudes class. Its array of amenities is impressive. So is its level of insulation.

But these are things that usually come with the brand and the budget.

Not so the way it drives. And that is precisely why the Flying Spur V8 stands tall among its peers.

CAR INFORMATION

Bentley Flying Spur 4.0 (A)

Price

:POA

Engine Type

:

V8 Twin-Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

3,993 cc

Horsepower

:

500 bhp / 6,000 rpm

Torque

:

660 Nm / 1,700 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A) ZF

Acceleration

:

5.2 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

295 km/h