Magic Carpet Ride: Bentley’s New Flying Spur

This cocoon of luxury is also a superb driver's car

To drive. Or be driven. That’s the dilemma.

Do you slide behind the wheel to pilot the world’s fastest four-door sedan – 207mph flat out? Or luxuriate in the back, watching the world whoosh by, while massaging, reclining, heated-and-cooled seats do the pampering?

Either way you’ll be over-joyed. This is the spectacular duality of Bentley’s latest Flying Spur, arguably the world’s grandest luxury grand tourer.

The third-generation Spur – the first debuted back in 2005 – has the distinction of being all new from the hubcaps up. It’s a tad longer than before, with five inches added to the wheelbase, giving it a sleeker, more elegant, more muscular look.

The new headlights alone are worthy of a eulogy. These LED wonders feature cut crystals in a stunning saw-blade design that lets them sparkle, even when not lit. They’re nothing less than automotive works of art.     

Now gaze in awe at that Flying B mascot standing proud on top of the grille. The wings of the B are also fashioned from cut crystal and illuminate at night. And, in Rolls-Royce style, the Flying B can retreat into the bodywork at the touch of a button.

Sharing the same basic chassis as Porsche’s Panamera sedan, the new Spur features an all-aluminum body with more curves, haunches and bulging muscles than an Olympic weight-lifter.

See it in profile and it looks achingly gorgeous, especially rolling on the optional 22-inch alloys. Head-on, the new super-sized grille seems huge and imposing, especially in standard guise with its vertical chrome blades. Only the new rear-end lacks visual presence; it looks like something from Volkswagen.

For the driver in you, this new Flying Spur just might make you sprout a pair of horns. Under that mile-long hood sits Bentley’s iconic 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged 12-cylinder, the same one used in the latest Continental GT two-door.       

There are nuclear reactors with less might. With a massive 626 horsepower on tap, it can catapult the Spur from standstill to 60mph in a crazy-fast 3.7 seconds. And the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic can fire-off shifts with the rapidity of an AK-47.

This is one superb driver’s car with handling sharpened and honed by standard active all-wheel drive, rear-wheel steering and the world’s first 48-volt electric anti-roll system.

Power it through the curves and this 5,300-pound leviathan feels more like a sports coupe. Dial-up ‘Sport’ mode and the suspension firms-up, the throttle sharpens, and the transmission becomes even more eager to shift.

And if you have to stop in a hurry, the car’s massive rotors – 16.5 inches at the front, 15-inch at the rear – halt forward progress as effectively as throwing out an anchor.

There are also few more commanding, more cosseting driving positions than the pilot’s seat of this new Spur. Power adjustments seem endless, plus an array of massaging options that wouldn’t seem out of place in a spa.

One true surprise and delight is the three-sided fascia panel. At the press of a button it morphs from being a glass infotainment screen, to displaying a trio of analog gauges, to an elegant wood panel. Just stunning.

But if you want to leave the driving to others, the Flying Spur’s rear seats are a sanctuary of silence and serenity.

They offer 14 power adjustments and five different massaging modes. And with soft, squishy pillowed headrests, taking a nap back here is inevitable.

The rear-facing glass screen on the center console is another surprise and delight. At the press of a button, an iPhone-like touchscreen pops out.

From here you can sit back and control everything from the window shades, the rear sunroof shade, temperature, even the optional 2,200-watt, 18-speaker Naim surround sound audio.

Add to all this, amazing stretch-out legroom, leg-crossing kneeroom, and plentiful headroom and you might never want to leave.

The price of all this luxury kicks off at $214,600, though start checking the options boxes – that Naim audio alone costs an eye-watering $8,800 – and it’s not hard to reach the $286,000 of our test car.

As for having a car that makes you want to drive and be driven in equal measures? That’s priceless.

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