2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8 review: Flying behemoth

Bentley’s Flying Spur V8 sedan lays on the stature, presence, and image for a luxury limo experience that can’t be ignored
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2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8
Launched: April 2021 — Price: S$970,000 with VES, without COE, options
Four-door, luxury limousine, five seats 
550hp, 4.0-litre petrol engine, VES C2, 12.6L/100km
Pros Cons
Humongous road presence, image  Powerful V8 is thirsty 
Luxurious blend of old and new Experience depends on options
Sporty ride, strong performance Average headroom, visibility

SINGAPORE — I have never, in my life, been mistaken for an important, successful person until I drove the Bentley Flying Spur.  

I’m more used to being treated as a pest (at best) or security hazard (at worst) and being shooed off for taking photos of cars in random places, never mind that said photo spot is empty. Thing is, it happens less the further up the luxury rung you go — for instance, I’ve also never been asked to move along in a Rolls-Royce. 

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But never before has a workman come up to the car window to ask me about the status of an invoice, without any preamble whatsoever. He was probably just as shocked to discover I wasn’t who he thought I was, and that was a window into the world of a Bentley owner.
 

Design and appearance: It’s business time

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For a car to override even this gross image unbalance, it has to be big, and we’re not just talking about size. When a ‘normal’ German luxury limousine is not enough, a buyer aims higher, and an obvious step is to take the higher ground with Bentley’s Flying Spur. 

The Flying B’s luxury limousine traditionally was one of the entry-points into the brand, alongside the Continental GT coupe. First introduced in 2005, CarBuyer tested the second-gen model way back in 2014. Globally, the  all-new third-generation debuted in 2019, and saw its official launch in Singapore in April 2021.

Our first glimpse of the new Flying Spur was as its Singapore launch in 2021
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The Flying Spur is in an interesting position now: It’s now the only four-door the brand makes, with the larger top-flight limo Mulsanne (and Arnage before it) no longer in production. 

But with the world’s demand for super-luxe cars seemingly bottomless, plus various supply chain crunches in the past few years, we’ve only just gotten to test out the Flying Spur in Singapore. This is the least expensive of the lot, the V8 model, with the on-its-way-to-Singapore V6 hybrid model above, and then the range-topping W12. 

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I call it obvious because a Bentley is hard to miss, and a 5.3m long and nearly 2m wide Bentley with 22-inch wheels and enough brightwork for a royal banquet is even harder to miss. The test car came in ‘cricket ball’ maroon and with lots of optional chrome exterior bits, as well as the new pop-up Flying B figurehead that’s also illuminated at night.

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On closer scrutiny, The Flying Spur resembles its Continental GT coupe brother, length aside, with the front half of both cars appearing nearly identical. The Flying Spur’s muscular image is also bolstered by its small windows/greenhouse and plentiful sheet metal. So while it is a limo, it does look quite sporty — though like a coupe-SUV, there is a price to pay for fashion (read on). 

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If that sounds weird, let’s not forget that Bentley’s brand DNA would be something like, 70 per cent lux and 30 per cent sport, not forgetting its participation in LeMans, the historical Blower cars, and more. 

All that accounts for its oversized road presence and image. My theory is that you get a Bentley because you don’t just want to know you’ve made it, you want other people to know it as well, with little doubt. 

Interior: Inner city pressure 

2021 Bentley Spur V8 review - CarBuyer Singapore - interior cockpit closeup steering wheel
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Inside, leather, wood, and chrome are the name of the game, with a classical-looking facade fronting high-tech behind the scenes. 

That’s neatly summed up by the car’s 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, which operates on similar lines to Audi’s but with a Bentley skin and layout on top. Tap the ‘screen’ button, and the display rotates to show three dials (compass, lap timer, temperature), and hold the button to hide the screen and show nothing but a blank central dashboard (remember those?). 

2021 Bentley Spur V8 review - CarBuyer Singapore - rear seat legroom
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The 3,194mm wheelbase means plenty of legroom for rear passengers, though the Flying Spur is big, it isn’t the most spacious limo around — an S-Class has a tad more room. What’s more of a concern is the limited headroom, and we found ourselves brushing our hair against the headliner while moving around the cabin. That’s the price we mentioned: The Bentley’s sleek profile is because of its low height — at 1,483mm tall it’s 13mm less than an S-Class. Plus, our test car packed dual sunroofs too, which reduced the headroom further. 

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This test car came with the three-person rear bench, but like most luxury limos you can opt for a more luxurious experience as long as your wallet can handle it — more leather, more chrome, unique colours, a two-seat rear with lounge-esqe chairs. 

2021 Bentley Spur V8 review - CarBuyer Singapore - gearshifter
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As far as cabins go, it’s opulent, refined, and feels expensive. Aesthetically there is a lot going on, to use an Audi as a counterpoint. Bentley hasn’t declared war on buttons, so the lower dash section still has button controls for many functions, which is something we personally enjoy. It doesn’t look futuristic or sleek, but that’s entirely the point with the classic front- tech behind Bentley blend.

Driving: It’s business time

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The Flying Spur excels on wide, smooth roads where its powerful V8 has room to stretch its legs. 

The familiar 4.0-litre unit copes well with regular driving, serving up lots of torque almost instantly. While it’s well-behaved, it also does have the same aggressive edge we’ve seen in cars such as the Audi RS Q8 and S8, and able to move the car’s 2.3-tonne mass without feeling strained. 

2021 Bentley Spur V8 review - CarBuyer Singapore - 4.0-litre V8 engine bay
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It’s fully capable of a fast turn of speed, and while letting that V8 roar is certainly enjoyable, and there’s lots of grip to be exploited, the car’s 2.3-tonne mass does come into play, so it’s no out-and-out sports car. That will stop you, if the protests of your passengers don’t first. I should know, I had Ju-Len as (the world’s worst) chauffeur for one stint.

2021 Bentley Spur V8 review - CarBuyer Singapore -  driving cockpit view
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There are different drive modes (comfort, sport, ‘Bentley’ — automatic), and a custom one too, which changes the character to suit the mood, but like the appearance and comfort, the experience scales with your investment in the options list. 

In chassis terms, the car packs adaptive air suspension, but you can also option roll-control and all-wheel steering. The latter is a must-have for the Flying Spur — the car’s footprint and raked A-pillars make for tricky maneuvering in tight spaces. 

2021 Bentley Spur V8 review - CarBuyer Singapore - driving mode screen 12.3-inch touchscreen
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But generally, it’s vault quiet inside and the obvious opulence does deliver a great cruising experience, one heightened by the excellent Naim sound system.  But that sense of sportiness does creep in, with the suspension excellent over most surfaces but with notable thump over small, obtuse bumps such as expansion joints and speed-reducing strips. 

2021 Bentley Spur V8 review - CarBuyer Singapore - rear 3/4 on the road rolling shot
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Pricing and competition: Flight of the discords 

2021 Bentley Spur V8 review - CarBuyer Singapore - frontal shot grille lights
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The Flying Spur V8 goes for S$979,000 without a COE or options, while the 6.0-litre W12 model goes for S$1,089,000, also without a COE or options. 

The biggest problem with the Flying Spur is not limited to it alone, and that’s the fuel consumption of this large, heavy, and fast limousine. We never bettered 14.0L/100km, which makes it one of the thirstiest cars we’ve driven this year. Regardless of your opinion on saving the earth, the Flying Spur Hybrid makes more sense, and should be priced close to the V8. 

2021 Bentley Spur V8 review - CarBuyer Singapore -
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If four-doors is still part of the brief and you want unrelenting speed, Porsche’s Panamera Turbo is a little less expensive. But the super-lux game is also heating up with Mercedes-Maybach re-entering the game with its Maybach S-Class now back in action. 

Rolls-Royce’s Ghost is a step up in all aspects and far more refined as a luxury limo, but it’s not a direct competitor because it costs at least twice as much.

For Bentley’s target audience though, the Flying Spur ticks one big box: People who don’t really care about cars (i.e. most of them) will be able to tell the difference between a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz, and a Bentley. And more importantly, if a car’s image is powerful enough to disguise me as someone important and successful (at least for a few seconds) it must be a behemoth in size and image indeed. 

Bentley Flying Spur V8

2021 Bentley Spur V8 review - CarBuyer Singapore - Flying B emblem logo
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Drivetrain type  Petrol engine 
Engine 3,996cc, V8, biturbo 
Power 542hp at 6000rpm
Torque 770Nm at 1370-4500rpm
Gearbox 8-speed dual-clutch  
0-100km/h 4.1 seconds 
Top Speed 318km/h
Fuel Efficiency 12.6L/100km
VES Band  C2 / +S$25,000
Agent Wearnes Automotive 
Price S$979,000 with VES, without COE, options
Availability Now
Verdict  Big on image, size, and power, Bentley’s take on the luxury limo is a big on-road statement

ALSO READ: Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II now offered in a new expression

This article was first published in CarBuyer.