At just over 2 sq km, the tiny principality of Monaco is the most densely populated state in the world – by millionaires too.
It oozes opulence, from regal hotels to its multitude of supercars zipping about. Which is why Bentley decided to launch its new Flying Spur sedan here.
Positioned between its two-door Continental GT and Victorian house-on-wheels Mulsanne, the Flying Spur is low, sporty and graceful all at once.
The front axle has been moved 130mm forward, 22-inch wheels have been added and the front overhang has been shortened, culminating in a sleeker design.
Designer Stefan Sielaff is proud of its proportions and its sharp rear haunches, which are pinched out of the largest superformed aluminium panel in the automotive industry. Apparently, they are incredibly hard to make.
Particularly striking, too, are “cutcrystal” effect headlights, a new vertical grille and new retractable “Flying B” mascot with lit wings.
A ride in the second row shows off the Flying Spur’s proposition as a chauffeured limo. Leather upholstery with a 3D interlaced pattern stands out. A touchscreen remote allows the chauffeured to control things like the sunroof, air-conditioning, blinds and the audio.
The car comes with a 16-speaker B&O stereo, but you can opt for a 21-speaker Naim system to bring a whole orchestra into the cabin.
SPECS / BENTLEY FLYING SPUR W12
Price: $969,000 without COE when it arrives second quarter next year
Engine: 5,950cc 48-valve twin-turbocharged W12
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with paddle shift
Power: 626hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 900Nm at 1,350-4,500rpm
0-100kmh: 3.8 seconds
Top speed: 333kmh
Fuel consumption: 14.8 litres/100km
Agent: Wearnes Automotive
The button-heavy cockpit, meanwhile, gets updated with a new “B” design motif and a three-sided rotating panel, which switches from a display, dials or a flat wood panel.
Under the hood, a monstrous 6-litre twin-turbo W12 develops 626hp and an eye-watering 900Nm of torque to propel the 2,437kg car to 100kmh in just 3.8 seconds and onto a top speed of 333kmh (if you can find enough road).
The engine can deactivate six of its 12 cylinders during low-load moments to save fuel.
But all that counted for nought at the start as I got lost heading out of Monaco. Thankfully, the car’s allwheel steering helped the behemoth negotiate tight and twisty streets in the bling town.
Once on the open roads along the Route de Napoleon, the Flying Spur came into its own.
Its performance can only be described as phenomenal. Mash the throttle and you surf a tsunami of torque, punctuated by almost imperceptible gearshifts and a hint of turbo whistle in the cabin when you back off after having frightened yourself.
Its grip is stupendous – thanks to an active all-wheel-drive system that shunts power to the front wheels only when needed – as is braking. The car has 420mm front rotors and stopping is so well-calibrated that passengers do not tip their heads forward except under very heavy braking.
The limo’s ride has been upgraded with three-chamber air suspension and 48-volt active anti-roll bars that tense or relax in milliseconds. The latter helped to flatten the car through corners on our circuitous route. The chassis is soft, comfortable and relaxed, but never wallowy or imprecise.
Most of the time, the car is driven in “Bentley” mode, which is what its engineers consider to be the best mix of comfort and performance. You can choose Comfort, Sport or Custom if you wish.
Whichever way you drive it, few cars come close to matching the Flying Spur’s blend of luxury, power and handling. All the better to woo the well-heeled then, be they in Monaco or Singapore.
• The writer is with Torque, a motoring bi-monthly published by SPH Magazines