The Bentley Flying Spur V8 has a smaller engine but the same high level of luxury as its massive turbocharged 6.0-litre sibling
Flying superlative The Flying Spur is not whisper quiet; some sounds are allowed to permeate the cabin. But there is no mistaking its refinement, even when the gas pedal is floored

IT MAY not be the first thing anyone discussing the merits of the latest Bentley is likely to broach but the new Flying Spur V8's fuel efficiency has to be one of its most impressive attributes.

Until recently, the Bentley Flying Spur was synonymous with the massive turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 engine to drive all four wheels. But the recent addition of a 4.0-litre V8 biturbo has changed all that. This new unit may be smaller but it has outstanding oomph of 507 hp and 660 Nm, which is slightly less than the Flying Spur W12's 625 hp and 800 Nm but nowhere near inadequate.

And the V8's torque is particularly muscular because it is available from just 1,750 rpm. In other words, if your Prada loafer accidentally falls off your right foot and onto the accelerator, you will probably attain maximum torque already.

But if you're not driving like a madman, this powerful limousine will merely consume 10.9 litres per 100 km under the combined cycle, or 9.2 km per litre (versus 14.7 l/100 km for the W12). For a 5.3-metre long car weighing in at slightly over 2.4 tonnes, that is impressive.

The fuel efficiency is achieved through cylinder deactivation. When cruising smoothly at a low to moderate engine speed, four of the Flying Spur's eight cylinders stop moving - two on each side of the Vee. The corresponding valves close and no fuel goes in. Your ultra-luxury limo is now effectively a four-cylinder model.

The shutdown is so smooth that you will not be able to feel it. The Flying Spur's engine remains as quiet and silken, with only road noise to be heard from inside the cabin.

But step on the accelerator and the four cylinders are re-activated as the entire V8 symphony resumes full operation.

The power delivery is outstanding and the Flying Spur is not whisper quiet; some sounds are allowed to permeate the cabin. But there is no mistaking its refinement, even when the gas pedal is floored and the big Bentley is making rapid progress.

For a large car, the Flying Spur actually handles very well, with accurate steering and air suspension offering four settings between Comfort and Sport.

With permanent all-wheel drive, the Flying Spur has outstanding traction in corners. The grip is evident, even in Comfort mode with its soft damping.

But it is in the rear of the cabin that the Bentley is best enjoyed. With immense legroom, acres of wood and leather, a touchscreen remote and individual electrically adjustable rear seats with massage feature, the luxury is wonderfully understated.

In front, the centre console's "top roll" leather wings combine with round chrome air vents and organ stop controls for a bit of updated heritage.

But the Flying Spur has another advantage - its styling. It is distinctive but not grand. Compared to the competition, it can be driven into a dodgy neighbourhood without causing too much of a stir. Yet it is special without being flashy. This has to be the supremely subtle choice.

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