Bentley’s Flying Spur V8 is a junior with clout

The Bentley Flying Spur V8 comes in seven standard colours but if none suits you, you can choose from more than 100 others.
The Bentley Flying Spur V8 comes in seven standard colours but if none suits you, you can choose from more than 100 others.PHOTO: BENTLEY MOTOR CARS

Bentley's Flying Spur V8 is proof that "entry-level" is a very relative term

It would be quite churlish to label the latest addition to Bentley's Flying Spur line-up, equipped with a new 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8, as entry-level.

Yes, it may be one of the most affordable routes to Bentley ownership but the term just does not sit well with a car that costs more than three-quarters of a million dollars.

The V8 variant supplements the Spur's existing 6-litre W12 range. If you decide to, in the words of Bentley, "commission" one (like you would a piece of art), the customisation exercise could inflate the Flying Spur V8's price to rival or even exceed its more "elevated" brethren.

If the seven standard exterior colours on offer do not tickle your fancy, you could choose from an extended palette of 110 colours. If those shades still are not quite to your liking, Bentley offers "infinite bespoke" customisation.

This means if you can dream it up, Bentley can probably make it happen. The same goes for colours and finishes of the leather upholstery.

But all this is not exactly news. This is the same Flying Spur that was launched last year, albeit with the inclusion of that aforementioned V8 engine.

In case you are not yet acquainted with the car as a whole, here is a quick recap. The second-generation Flying Spur is a departure from its immediate predecessor, dropping the "Continental" moniker and shifting its focus from being a four-door grand tourer to becoming a junior version of Bentley's flagship Mulsanne.

That is something achieved mainly through the softening of its suspension settings. Of course, as with its price tag, the Flying Spur's "junior" status is relative. Measuring 5,295mm long (against the Mulsanne's 5,575mm), it is a large car.

What is news, though, is its engine. The V8 motor has 2 litres, four cylinders, 116bhp and 140Nm less than the W12. But we think even the most power-mad lunatic will find little cause for complaint with the Flying Spur V8's 500bhp and 660Nm.

That motor, in conjunction with a creamy-smooth and lightning-quick eight-speed automatic gearbox, punts this 2,425kg land barge from a standstill to 100kmh in 5.2 seconds. And given a suitably long stretch of road (without such pesky things like speed limits), it will hit a top speed of 295kmh.

But even more than that is how the Flying Spur V8 does not feel a whole lot different compared to its bigger brother, as the V8-powered limo is still in possession of a tremendous amount of in-gear punch and mile-gobbling ability. Just to give you an idea of how long-legged it is, the car will not yet have shifted into its top eighth gear while travelling at 80kmh (it will be in seventh).

The Flying Spur V8 has that, plus superlative levels of acoustic refinement and ride comfort. The former is provided for by an arsenal of sound-deadening measures, including an acoustically- optimised chassis underfloor and window glass, along with doors that resemble those used in bank vaults. The whole experience is not unlike being carried on a cloud, something that is quite appropriate, given how the Flying Spur's suspension features air-filled adaptive dampers.

Indeed, telling the V8 and W12 Flying Spurs apart, short of looking under the bonnet, is a bit of a task. The key differentiators being a red badge and twin tailpipes with a stylised figure-of-eight design (over a black badge and oval tailpipes in the Flying Spur W12).

Hence the right thing to do is to call it a "derivative" as, save for price, there is little to differentiate both Flying Spur variants. For some context, the Flying Spur's close cousin, the Continental GT, has a bit more of a sporting bent in its V8-powered guise.

That said, a Flying Spur that looks and drives virtually the same as its bigger brother, albeit with a slightly more palatable price tag, is just the thing the Bentley line-up needs.

After all, this subtlety is a good thing. You would not want your golf kakis thinking you have gone and plumped for a "lesser" Bentley, now, would you?

The writer is the associate editor of Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.