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CAR OF THE MONTH March 2006

Bentley Continental Flying Spur Review

Literally Flying

A side view of a gray Bentley Continental Flying Spur


In short: A super luxurious, super sporty and super fast sedan.

Attention, pilots — the glamour days of the late 40s are back chez Bentley. The British brand acquired by the Volkswagen Group got a serious injection of cash and now boasts a state-of-the-art plant in Crewe, England. From the German side come advanced windtunnels, proving grounds and prototyping facilities. “The Continental Flying Spur is a brilliant example of how to match world-beating technologies with renowned craftsmanship,” says Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors. “It is a performance car but not at the cost of comfort and as such represents a unique proposition — a sumptuous and spacious four-door Grand Tourer with the heart and soul of a high performance coupe.”

Indeed, the Spur boasts a tremendous heritage, from its successful racing days to its mystical brand name. Our first experience in a Bentley was in an original 1954 R-Type riding down the Champs Elysées, passing by the Arc de Triomphe and turning a lot of heads. This moment stuck in our minds as a great souvenir. We remember every detail, from how smoothly doors opened, to the comfortable and luxurious leather seats, to the engine start push button launching the performing powerplant. Well, it’s all still there today, and then some. Not only is the CFS a brilliant sports car, but all the elements of luxury, contemporary electronics, safety features are present — and yes, it still turns heads.

An interior view of the Bentley Continental Flying Spur The key of the Bentley Continental Flying Spur Handsome wood trim accents the cabin's interior

This edition is inspired by both the 1952 Bentley R-Type Continental and the 1957 four-door Continental Flying Spur it borrows its name from. But really, the Flying Spur is a stretched version of the racy Continental GT introduced a couple of years ago. All four or five passengers (depending on the configuration specified at order time) have plenty of space to relax until their next destination. The bulk of the engineering comes from Germany, and you’ll recognize components from other divisions. There is no need to discuss pricing (it’s very expensive) or fuel consumption (it has a voracious appetite in sports mode — what do you expect? you are moving 5,500 lbs!), so let’s review some basics.

The Bentley Continental Flying Spur

There is a proven twin-turbocharged W12 engine with beaucoup horsepower and a wave of torque from low revs to go fast, as well as a massive braking system with 405-mm, ventilated front discs for stopping quickly. To go fast around corners, a high-tech all-wheel-drive system has been coupled with an advanced six-speed automatic gearbox with paddleshift controls. All the expected electronics are plugged in and nothing is too complicated to operate. Rear passengers are in for a treat with a super spacious cabin. Exterior lines are clean, evoke the past but are definitely modern and incorporate aerodynamics. Although distinctive, there is nothing ostentatious about the conception, as focus has been devoted to function and appreciation of a classy lifestyle, from the keyless entry system to the massage function of the driver and front passenger seats.

The tail light of the Bentley Continental Flying Spur
The iconic Bentley badge
One of the Bentley Continental Flying Spur's ventilated disc brakes

This craft can move. Due to the structural design and components used, you’ll catch yourself at 100 mph in no time thinking you’re actually at half that speed at best. With performance of 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 195 mph, you will find yourself literally flying. That’s a good thing for qualified pilots in qualified spaces, but overall the CSF is much, much more than that. Speaking of qualifications, chauffeurs and owner drivers have the option of attending the School of Instruction Academy in Crewe.

A side view of a gray Bentley Continental Flying Spur

Warranty/Service: Three-year/unlimited mileage limited warranty.


QUICK SHEET
Price as tested: $179,185

Technical Specifications

Performance Data

Engine: 6.0-liter, DOHC twin-turbocharged, 12-cylinder; 552 hp
- Torque: 650 lb.-ft. at 1,600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed Tiptronic automatic with manual shift facility and steering column-mounted gearshift paddles

Safety: driver and passenger front airbags; front and rear side thorax airbags; full-length curtain airbags

Top Speed: 195 mph

Acceleration: 0-60 in 4.9 seconds

Braking: ventilated disc brakes with ABS; Brake Force Distribution (EBD); Brake Assist (HBA)

Fuel Economy: 11 city,
18 highway

Handling: continuous all-wheel drive with torsen center differential; speed sensitive power-assisted rack and pinion steering

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Photography: AlphaMedia

A three-quarter front view of a gray 1954 Bentley R-Type
1954 Bentley R-Type
It is reported that Bentley built about 2,000 of these cars, which is a somewhat large number and certainly less than what Rolls Royce was producing at the time. An in-line, 6-cylinder engine powered some of these in the Monte Carlo Rally, and its automatic transmission was smooth and effective. At the time, it was one of the fastest cars on the road, especially for a luxury sedan. From what you've read above, history seems to repeat itself!



(Updated: 12/27/12 NW)

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