So, when you are out to splurge a huge amount of dosh on a Bentley, does it make sense to pinch a few pennies by picking the Flying Spur with the V8 over the full blown W12? A day with the Flying Spur V8 on its home turf tells us more.
In a world lush with exquisite imagery and exclusivity, it is sensible that Bentley hasn’t created distinct visual differentiations between the W12 and the new V8. The stoic face, the square shoulders and the loping discreet touches like Bentley logos backed by red enamel and a horizontal bar on the air dam in matte black instead of chrome could suggest sportiness rather than thriftiness.
It is immediately clear that there has been no thriftiness in the treatment to the interiors. Quilted leather, gleaming wood and twinkling chrome make up a delightfully rich cabin. The standard V8 won’t come as well equipped as the W12, but, it can be fitted with everything that Bentley has to offer for the larger hearted Flying Spur. The rear bench can be ordered in three different configurations including the top-of-the-line two-seater setup with powered reclining and massaging seats. Apart from the rear seat entertainment package with 10-inch screens and 64GB of on-board storage, the customisation options for a car of this calibre include fridges and humidors if you desire them.
So the difference is really all about what lies under the hood. Don’t think of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 as a poor cousin of the W12. Sure, its 500bhp and 66.kgm of torque is lower than the W12's, but this motor is designed to be quick on the uptake. The Flying Spur V8 feels most at home on the motor way. At a steady 110kph, the Flying Spur is remarkably serene. The engine turns over lazily as the ZF gearbox sits in eighth gear. Flex your right foot and the pace changes in a languid yet determined fashion. In the normal D-mode, the gearbox is smooth and unhurried, so when you are in a hurry, it's the Sport mode’s tendency to hold a lower gear that proves more satisfying. While the V8 won’t be as effortless at all speeds as the W12, its healthy performance along with the ability to stretch the miles between full tanks of premium unleaded makes it the better all rounder.
From behind the wheel, the Flying Spur’s width requires some care on narrow roads. But as the speeds rise and the roads open up, this Bentley feels lighter on its feet than you would expect. It is poised cruising down highways and pleasant to steer around the more winding stretches of tarmac. The all-wheel-drive system increases the amount of grip that can be clawed out from the 19-inchers at all four corners. The brakes though could do with a bit more bite as the near 2.5 tonne weight of this sedan is quite evident when dropping the anchors. The hydraulic steering weighs up at higher speeds and connects you to the front wheels in a positive manner that is never overly sporty and at lower speeds, it is effortless too. However, the air-springs never quite get the same degree of adjustability over its four stage settings. The lack of pliancy to absorb the bumps and potholes at city speeds is the Flying Spur’s biggest shortcoming. Of the four settings, the firmest one feels the most consistent in the way it rides at high and low speeds.
The Flying Spur is an opulent and grand device to cover distances in. The relatively frugal V8 engine adds a more practical edge to its appeal without sacrificing much on the ability to speed through vast distances without breaking a sweat. However, this Bentley falls short in its ability to deliver the right mix of an engaging and luxurious experience. In comparison with the new crop of machines from Mercedes, Jaguar and Land Rover, the Bentley’s shortcomings are stark, especially as it sits a rung or two above in price.