Bentley takes performance-luxury to new heights with the latest Flying Spur
Winged titan -- ST PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER TAN

A 2.5-tonne carriage with 800Nm of torque in the city may seem a bit like a bull in a china shop. Especially when the 5.3m-long, 2.2m-wide behemoth hurtles to 100kmh in 4.6 seconds while riding on pillowy air suspension.

Indeed, the new Bentley Flying Spur is not a car you can always take liberties with, even if it has all-wheel-drive and the constitution of an armoured vehicle.

Yet, it is so easy to be swept up by the car's sheer power and immensity. Tap the accelerator lightly and the 6-litre W12 beneath the limo's expansive bonnet responds willingly. Almost too willingly.

Keep your right foot down and the car charges forward like a freight train on full steam.

As sturdy and responsive as its steering is, you will find yourself struggling - if only momentarily - to keep Her Royal Massiveness from leaving a mark on the curb as you sail round a right sweeper fast.

The forces the car has to contend with are twice that faced by a Golf GTI; and it does not help that you have left the dampers in Comfort setting. You are thankful then that it is fitted with big, powerful and sensitive brakes.

The test-car is also fitted with 275/35 tyres to maximise contact with the tarmac, but the standard issue 265/45 (front) and 265/40 (rear) will probably be a little less twitchy in the wet.

When the left side of the Flying Spur makes contact with a puddle at no faster than 75kmh, the whole car pulls to one side, which is more than a little unnerving for something of its stature.

The Bentley is more rewarding on dry roads. With peak torque available from 2,000rpm, it merges with traffic and changes lanes with utter impunity. Most times, you do not even have to increase pedal pressure.

Ah, the perks of a big displacement engine. The 12-cylinder, which dates back to the late 1990s when Volkswagen (which owns Bentley) unveiled its Phaeton limousine, has been tuned to make 45 per cent more power than when it was strapped to the Phaeton back then. Even so, you can feel that it has lots of reserves.

Despite its output, the big Bentley is a little hesitant in stop-start traffic. Overcoming inertia of a 2.5-tonne mass is daunting even for such an engine.

Flicking the gear lever to Sport mode does not help much in this situation. But when the car is on the fly, Sport mode certainly makes for a more exhilarating time at the wheel.

Dialling more firmness into the dampers is recommended too. There are four settings between Comfort and Sport to choose from. Even at its firmest, the car's ride comfort remains decent.

The two Comfort settings are just too soft. They are great for flattening speed regulators but they also result in an SUV-like motion that makes you a little sea-sick. Perhaps Bentley is prepping itself for the launch of its first sports-utility vehicle in 2016.

But the Flying Spur is billed as the fastest four-door Bentley ever. Which is well and good as long as the road is long, straight and dry.

Otherwise, it is best viewed as a slightly more compact version of the Mulsanne, Bentley's uber-luxe flagship. After all, the car is fitted with an impressive list of pampering features.

These include massage seats, soft- closing doors, a superb infotainment system with separate rear monitors, Wi-Fi and a royal wood-leather-chrome treatment.

Thick-ply carpeting and driver's seat with easy-access function would have completed the picture.

The cabin is well insulated against noise and vibration, though. And you get plenty of cabin space and a huge boot. The level of refinement is what you would expect of a Bentley too, except for the occasional shift shock.

For a car its size, the Flying Spur is surprisingly maneuverable. It is capable of tight U-turns and it does not feel bulky at the helm (most of the time, anyway).

If it is a bull in a china shop, it is generally a fairly well-behaved one.

 

CAR INFORMATION

Bentley Flying Spur 6.0 (A)

Price

:POA

Engine Type

:

W12 Twin-Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

5,998 cc

Horsepower

:

617 bhp

Torque

:

800 Nm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

4.6 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

320 km/h