Bentley Flying Spur V8 - Flight of the Rumbling B

David Khoo

London, England – “When’s the V8 coming?” was our first question during the launch of the Flying Spur in Beijing close to this time last year (China is a big market for Bentley, especially for the four-door Flying Spur), since the smaller engine was making its rounds in the Continental GT range. True to inscrutable form, we were told to concentrate on the W12 model and that a V8 may or may not be on the cards, since this would depend on what the market wanted…

However, judging by how closely the V8 Flying Spur was unveiled at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show after the introduction of the flagship W12, and then this international drive following quickly after, the market must have been vocal and Bentley, listening.

Bentley skirts around the issue of it being a ‘cheaper’ model for potential newcomers to the brand, since as anyone who is familiar with the brand will tell you, there’s no such thing as a ‘cheap’ Bentley. Mr. Robin Peel, the brand’s Asia-Pacific Head of Marketing and Communications, tells us that even the V8 isn’t for somebody stretching to buy a Bentley, as it ultimately boils down to personal preference and for certain markets, tax brackets.

In the UK, the price difference between the V8 and W12 Flying Spur models is around £15k – in Singapore terms, we’re talking about $760k for the V8 versus $850k for the W12, before COE and options. Despite the seemingly overwhelming market demand for a V8 Flying Spur, Mr. Peel does add that in certain markets, the bigger W12 is regarded as more ‘prestigious’ and ‘top-of-the-line’, so the buyers will not consider anything ‘less’.

The brand continues to tout the Continental V8 models as sporty, more dynamic driver’s cars with the aim of targeting a younger demographic from the one that is typically associated with the brand. With the introduction of the Flying Spur V8, there’s a lot of bandying about of the term ‘gateway’, as this model is intended to be a stepping stone into the brand’s fold.

Also, with three rear seating configurations available, bench (sits three), 2+1 (left and right electronically adjustable, one fixed in the centre) and 2 (individual rear seats), the Flying Spur cuts comfortably across the large limos offered by the familiar German suspects, namely the A8, S-Class, 7 Series and to some extent, the Panamera, albeit with the ultra-high old-world craftsmanship kudos of the Bentley brand.

The visual differences between the Flying Spur V8 and the W12 are similar to the ones that distinguish the Continental V8 from its bigger-hearted counterparts. Most notably, the Bentley emblems are red enamel on the V8, there’s some black mesh on the front grille compared to the all-chrome of the W12 and the tailpipes are finished in a figure-of-eight (or as we prefer, the infinity symbol) versus the W12’s large ovals.

From our starting point in Central London at the Hotel Café Royal just at the cusp of the Piccadilly Circus, we are to weave our way through the more salient sights of London before heading to the coffee stop at The Mulberry Inn in Surrey. Let’s see, Central London, 840am on a weekday, some roads closed for the Queen’s attendance for the opening of Parliament… I had to jump at the opportunity to see how big (or small) the Flying Spur would feel in real-world traffic, since life can’t always be about empty motorways and serpentine B-roads devoid of tractors and livestock!

Happily enough, our Granite coloured test-car would remain in our hands for the rest of the drive, which also meant we could see how the optional 20-inch footwear would hold up on the smaller roads. If you’ve driven in Central London, you’ll understand that swift progress is a holistic blend of give-take and cut-thrust – you need to know which to do when.

Firstly, the Flying Spur never feels too big for the narrow city roads, while the 660Nm from just 1750rpm readily hustles the 2.4-tonne car with disarming ease. The lofty driving position means the driver always enjoys a clear view of all sides, so the only thing you can blame for having been blindsided by one of the multitudes of cyclists swarming about is… inattention.

It’s never an uncomfortable place to be in, even if you’re sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, since the multimedia entertainment system is comprehensive and very easy to use. The whole point to high-tech gadgets is they have to be easy to use, since spending time fussing around with complex operating systems shouldn’t be part of any luxury motoring experience.

Our demo car gets rear individual screens and Bentley is considerate enough to arrange for a driver to chauffeur us back to the hotel from the tea-stop at Coworth Park, since this would take place during peak traffic at the end of the day. Through an iPhone-sized TSR wireless controller, or Touch-Screen Remote, the rear occupants are able to access vehicle info, control the multimedia system, adjust the ventilated/heated seats and climate control systems, all with a few swipes and nudges of the screen.

We’ve had ample occasion to try variants of the 4.0-litre V8, which includes stints in Audi’s S and RS models. We’ve always been impressed by how flexible the engine can be tuned for the various applications, especially when coupled to the versatile ZF eight-speed auto. In the Flying Spur, the engine features the big grunty traits associated with muscular V8s, yet boasts sufficient low-end torque to get it moving quickly.

With the chassis in ‘Comfort’, it’s possible to waft along in remote isolation, as nothing gets by the cabin insulation to disturb one’s reverie. At the other end of the suspension spectrum, ‘Sport’ noticeably firms up the ride quality, and everything starts to come alive through the steering wheel and seat-of-pants, as you can really prod this flying B along at an indecent pace. It might be worth remembering the prodigious kerbweight of the car considering the rate at which it can barrel into tighter corners – the FS V8 is fast, but it’s no sportscar, although we understand that carbon-ceramic brakes are available for the more hardcore owners.

Every Bentley’s palpable air of luxury is almost emotional and helps set it apart from its more clinical rivals, and this V8 is no different. This rumbling B’s compelling blend of luxury and performance in this price bracket could quickly see it hitting its rivals’ higher-end models hard, especially since it panders equally well to both the self-drive types, as well as to the driven. – PHOTOS: BENTLEY

Engine: 3999cc, 32v, V8
Power/rpm: 560bhp/6000rpm
Torque/rpm: 660Nm/1750rpm
Transmission: 8spd auto
Top Speed 295km/h
0-100km/h: 5.2secs
Fuel efficiency: 10.9l/100km
CO2: 254g/km
Price: from S$760k w/o COE
Availability: Now


4-door 5 seat Bentley flying spur petrol sedan v8

About the Author

David Khoo

Contributing editor David Khoo helms CarBuyer's sister magazine, Top Gear Singapore. If it's rare, exotic, or smells like ham, he's probably touched it, driven it, and sniffed it inappropriately.

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