Here's what we learned on an early ridealong with Bentley's development team
However, despite the Flying Spur and Continental’s identical underpinnings, including the MSB platform that is also shared with Porsche’s Panamera, Bentley has sought to differentiate the two cars not only through the difference in body shape but also a number of finer design details both inside and out.
The Flying Spur will launch with Bentley’s familiar range-topping twin-turbocharged W12 engine, reworked for this generation. The 6.0-litre unit produces 626bhp and 664lb ft of torque, accelerating the car from 0-60mph in 3.7sec, 0.7sec faster than its predecessor. The top speed is 207mph. It is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission promised to deliver “smooth and refined acceleration, quicker gearshifts and improved fuel economy”.
The engine combines high-pressure and low-pressure fuel injection, intended to maximise refinement, lower particulate emissions and optimise power and torque delivery. The new model reaches a peak torque of 664lb ft at 1350rpm, compared with the previous generation’s 590lb ft at 2000rpm. The unit also uses a variable displacement system that can shut down half the cylinders, making it more efficient below 3000rpm.
After the W12 launches, an entry-level V8 will be added to the range. A V6 petrol-powered plug-in hybrid will complete the powertrain line-up. This, Bentley’s second hybrid, will follow the Bentayga Hybrid, which launches in August.
The Flying Spur pioneers all-wheel steering for Bentley, a system that is promised to enhance stability at high speeds and manoeuvrability around town. The rear wheels are steered in the opposite direction to the front wheels at low speeds, reducing the turning circle and making parking easier. At higher speeds, the rear wheels stay in the same direction as the front wheels, as a means of improving stability.
While the second-generation Flying Spur had all-wheel drive, the new model introduces an active system that favours rear-wheel drive to improve the car’s handling but will also send torque to the front axle automatically as needed. Bentley said the front end of the car feels “much lighter” as a result.
Other features already seen on the Continental include Bentley’s Dynamic Ride System, a 48V electric active roll control system and three-chamber air springs containing 60% more air volume than the previous single-chamber springs, resulting in a chassis set-up for all types of driving.
Torque distribution varies according to the drive setting. In Comfort and Bentley modes, up to 354lb ft is sent to the front axle. In Sport mode, torque to the front axle is limited to 206lb ft to achieve a more dynamic feel. The model also has a torque-vectoring-by-brake system.