In the world of hyper-luxurious cars, things don't move as quickly as they do elsewhere. Oh, the cars are plenty fast, alright, as the Bentley Continental Flying Spur proves--but the pace of change in design, style, and equipment is more relaxed than in the workaday ranks.
That is, perhaps, for good reason: though the Continental Flying Spur comes in with styling largely unchanged from the design introduced seven years ago, it's still as iconic and imposing as ever. From the high, formal roofline to the long, streamlined body and characteristic Bentley grille, the Flying Spur is unmistakable.
Inside, the cabin exudes opulence with hand-stitched leather, hand-cut mirror-grain wood trim, real chrome accents, and a Breitling timepiece in the dashboard.
Powering this stately mobile ode to excess is an equally excessive 6.0-liter W-12 engine. Rated at 552 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, the engine is potent, smooth, and unhurried, despite moving the large sedan to 60 mph in under five seconds and on to a top speed of 194 mph. An even sportier model, the Flying Spur Speed, adds 48 horsepower and 75 pound-feet of torque to the mix, shaving a half-second off the 0-60 mph time and topping out at 200 mph.
But the 2013 Continental Flying Spur isn't primarily about performance, even in its Speed configuration. The real experience is the lush ride quality, the lavish interior appointments, and the serene quiet of the cabin. All seating spaces are comfortable and luxurious, but unlike some of the limousine-like alternatives, the Flying Spur's best row is up front, both in terms of experience and space. The rear seat is somewhat smaller than the long-wheelbase hyper-luxury of the Mulsanne, but there' still room aplenty for most adults. Fit, finish, and craftmanship throughout the interior make it clear why Bentley is so successful at selling cars while maintaining its nearly unrivalled reputation.
Because of the 2013 Flying Spur's price and position in the market, it is exceptionally well-equipped in any form, and a motivated buyer can likely custom order nearly anything that's not standard for the right price. This is the real draw of the Flying Spur--or any Bentley, for that matter; the availability of personalization is almost endless. Of the off-the-rack upgrades, a 1,000-watt Naim audio system is available, but isn't a marked improvement over the standard unit.
None of the official agencies have crash-tested the Flying Spur (naturally) but it is a large, solid, and formidable vehicle. It is also equipped with a full array of airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and active headrests, making a strong argument for its modern safety capabilities. From the driver's perspective, visibility can be slightly impaired by the thick supporting pillars for the roof, which can obstruct sight lines both front and rear at certain angles.
A new Flying Spur is expected to arrive sometime in 2014, with a new exterior design and upgrades to the powertrain as well. For 2013, however, the Flying Spur carries on as a modern classic.
By Nelson Ireson
Images Courtesy JamesList