While the four-door sedan as we know it has certainly faded from importance when looked at the broader scope of things, it can still draw the right amount of attention, especially when it comes with the right mixture of luxury, style, and technology. Bentley may be focused on enhancing its position in the utility market with the 2021 Bentayga. Still, it also wants to make sure that fans know it has not forgotten about the stately sedans and coupes that helped make the British ultra-luxury carmaker into an icon that continually pushes the envelope of luxury and technology. The 2021 Bentley Flying Spur brings back the notion of an “entry-level” sedan and could be the last hurrah for V8 power as Bentley rockest towards an all EV future.
Bespoke Elegance Never Looked So Good
As mentioned, our V8-powered tester is technically the entry-level version of the opulent Flying Spur. Still, of course, with this caliber of car, the definition goes far beyond what you see typically see lurking at your local Nissan dealer. Our Barnato Green hued tester attracted plenty of attention wherever it went, and we caught multiple people pulling out their camera phones, looking to get an image of this elegant oligarch as it slinked its way through town.
Part of this comes down to the dimensions, with the Flying Spur managing to nail all the traditional benchmarks one would expect from a proper luxury sedan. That includes the imposing front end, which features a reworked front grille, tweaked headlights, as well as the trademark ‘Flying B” hood ornament, which glows at night and can be discreetly tucked away from prying eyes when not on the move. Unlike other Flying Spurs, our example did not come with traditional bright chrome work and instead came with darkened chrome accents. We think this was a great idea since the otherworldly black contrasts meshed nicely with the dark green paintwork. Our tester also arrived with the optional $20,460 Mulliner Driving Specification package. While we’ll get into some of the finer details of what contributes to the driving experience later, you certainly won’t miss it out on the road thanks to the exclusive 22-inch wheels with feature black painted spokes to match the bright machined alloy.
Move to the back of the Flying Spur, and it’s a classic exercise in elegant simplicity. The smoked taillights complement the quad exhaust tips, and the rear of the car has a stately look to it. The Spur is still based on the two-door Continental GT, but unlike the old one, which looked like the Continental was run through a commercial-sized taffy puller, this iteration of the Flying Spur does a much better job of looking truly distinct which is a must with Bentley recently spinning the Flying Spur into its own model lineup some time ago. This new look also allows the Flying SPur to go up against rivals such as the Rolls Royce Ghost, BMW Alpina B7, and even the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.
Flying Spur Has Room For All Your Friends And Their Beverages
While the exterior plays a role in luring the eyes to the Flying Spur, it wouldn’t;t be a proper Bentley without having an interior that is a luxury-laden cocoon of peace. Our tester managed to not only live up to this time-honored tradition but also completely shatter the mark in multiple categories. The Flying Spur nameplate has not been around that long, with the first Flying Spur models produced in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Even in those days, the interior was a Flying Spur trademark, and this new iteration continues to deliver.
Slip inside, and you are greeted with a warm design that exudes opulence. The crown cut walnut wood is accented with black accents, and it’s nicely complemented with high-quality leather trim. Our tester had Cambrian-hued leather, and it was certainly a unique departure from more traditional hide colors like white, tan, or black. A novel party piece is a triangular setup for the centrally mounted infotainment system screen. Most of the time, the screen shows typical information such as radio, navigation, and other key details. But hit the screen button, and the screen flips away to reveal three traditional analog gauges. These gauges comprise a functional compass, a thermometer, and even a stopwatch. Turn the Flying Spur off, and it transforms again into a flat piece of wood that compliments the rest of the design.
Move beyond the trick screen, and you come to appreciate the quilted leather seats fully. These thrones can be heated or cooled and even come with a potent selection of massage options. Bentley even threw in automatic climate control for the seats, which tailors the heat or cooling effect to be optimal with the ambient temperature outside. Like the Bentayga we tested earlier, we recommend new owners go through the owners manual first to fully understand all the controls onboard, but thankfully, the learning curve here is not that bad.
But with the Flying Spur being designed to be a miniaturized limousine essentially, back seat accommodations are ultimately the true make-it-or-break-it item. Lucky passengers not only get their own set of heated/cooled/massage seats but the headrests also come equipped with fluffy pillows, which aim to make nap time a much more serene experience. Passengers also get to play with the TSR screen, which can function as a tablet and allows passengers to have a wide range of control over various aspects of the car, including the hood ornament. If they desire privacy, the driver can flip a switch that closes all the window curtains and the sunroof cover to keep prying eyes away. A slight caveat is that the concealment achieves full effect when the Spur is parked, with the back window shade staying down during driving for safety. A third passenger could also squeeze back there, but space is truly meant for two. Besides, your third passenger will block access to the two-mode refrigerator. That could be a problem, especially if your entourage needs quick refreshment.
Flying Spur Delivers Driving Fun Even With Two Fewer Cylinders
Performance for the 2021 Flying Spur will largely depend on buyer tastes, with Bentley offering two engine choices for the model. While the range-topping 626 horsepower 6.0 liter W12 is still around for those that want the pinnacle of performance, we highly suggest giving the smaller 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8 a serious look. While the 542 horsepower on hand might seem like your getting the short end of the stick at first glance, the V8 actually makes a good showing for itself once you get to know it better.
For instance, the V8 gets better fuel economy thanks to having 200 fewer pounds to lug around. Combining that with the cylinder deactivation tech on hand allows the Flying Spur to achieve 15 mpg in city driving and 20 mpg in freeway driving. These figures are very impressive for a flagship sedan and allow the Flying Spur to be a commendable companion on long road trips. Switching to the V8 means you lose out on the W12’s standard all-wheel steering as well as the electronically operated roll bars, but those are only minor detriments in the grand scheme of things.
As is the case with other Bentleys equipped with this V8, the engine does have a momentary bout of turbo lag. But get the launch right, and the V8 roars to life and delivers an impressive amount of acceleration, especially in freeway driving. An eight-speed automatic is the sole transmission on board, and it does a good job delivering smooth shifts that are perfectly in tune with the engine’s power. The novel transmission also comes with several drive modes, but we preferred to keep things in Bentley mode, with Sport being used for freeway on-ramps. However, our tester managed to impress in overall handling behavior, with the big four-door retaining an impressive degree of agility. You still feel its size, though, in certain situations with tight parking spots and even narrow entryways into parking garages, making you very mindful of its size.
Go West Young Man… To Grand Rapids
But while the Flying Spur shined on local roads closer to home, it also made us wonder, what if you’re an upcoming business person and need to take a long road trip to attend a meeting or even see distant family? To find out, we took inspiration from one of Emily’s favorite Groucho Marx songs and embarked on a westwardly road trip to Grand Rapids to see her friend Libby and see some of the finer things that the city had to offer outside of Art Prize.
As we embarked on our 163-mile journey, the Bentley managed to morph into a very charming and capable road tripper. While there is a noticeable amount of tire noise that emanates from the massive 22-inch wheels as the tires go over some of the blemished concrete that dots the Michigan landscape. But turn on the tunes from the powerful Naim sound system, and you’re instantly drawn to some of the luxuries that this big Bentley has to offer versus the troubles of the outside world. Oh, and remember the Mulliner Driving Specification Package we mentioned earlier? While it’s mostly an aesthetic exercise, the suspension does get firmed up slightly, and the transmission has even been tweaked to deliver improved shift quality.
Eventually, we arrived in Grand Rapids with the big Bentley feeling right at home in the busy downtown sector of the city. As was the case with its treks in Sterling Heights, the Bentley attracted its fair share of attention. While we appreciated the occasional admirer looking to get a picture, we decided to give this four-wheeled celebrity a break and high-tailed it into a parking garage after navigating some of the tight streets Grand Rapids had to offer. Our food stop this time around was Stella’s Lounge, which GQ Magazine recognized for having the best burger in America. However, we suspect that most patrons will relish the vintage theme, with plenty of reminders of the ’80s and ’90s scattered throughout.
A City On The Rise
The Bentley’s reception in Grand Rapids also served as an example of the recent surge in growth that the city has experienced over the past few years. In addition to a recent spike in population growth, the city has also had a respectable surge in wage growth, with a recent report from the Grand Rapids Business Journal revealing that wages have grown by 5.2 %, which puts the city in 17th place when it comes to measuring the speed of growth in this category.
With this growth in spending power, as well as some of the new companies that are calling Grand Rapids home, some of these movers and shakers will want a vehicle that can send a clear styling statement, and we think that the Flying Spur certainly has many of the goods to help achieve this. While the Rolls Royce Ghost does have it beat slightly in terms of prestige, the Flying Spur’s balanced mixture of luxury and sporty driving could win over buyers that want a three-dimensional luxury experience and have some fun to go along with their pampering.
Pricing for the 2021 Bentley Flying Spur starts at $196,000, but our tester came loaded with $65,840 of optional extras, which helped push the final price to $265,565 with various fees included. This lofty pricing allows our tester to play in the same ballpark with other comparably equipped ultra-luxury sedans though we highly doubt that few can match Bentley’s more sport-oriented approach.
As mentioned in our Bentayga review, Bentley is preparing to enter an all-electric future with all of its models eventually being powered purely by EV powerplants. That means that V8-powered Flying Spurs and even the recently unveiled 2021 Continental GT Speed could be the figurative last hurrah in traditional non-hybrid Bentley performance models before the transformation begins.
But as they say, change can be a good thing, and we look forward to seeing how Bentley’s models of the future contribute to a greener world.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.