So IX Magazine had the Bentley Flying Spur V8 S for a week to review, so we took it out for a luxury tour of the finest English vineyards, mostly specialising in fine sparkling wine.
I reviewed the Bentley Mulsanne a little while ago in Bavaria and the aim of that car is pretty self explanatory. It targets the top end of the luxury market looking to be chauffeured around in total luxury. But I was not so sure about the Flying Spur, who is it aimed at and what is its purpose?
At first I was a little perplexed as I could not quite get to grips with the nature of this four wheeled beast. So once it was safely parked in the drive I wandered around, sat in the front and back and generally just cogitated about it. Finally after playing with the glass door to the fridge and feeling the carpet and listening to the radio I had a eureka moment. I completely understood what Bentley were doing and here it is.
It’s about creating the perfect environment. Allow me to elucidate further. The world is essentially chaotic and uncontrollable, despite the narratives we invent post event. We create order out of happenings by justifying them as inevitable and by inventing a causality that often does not exist and was random at best. We have little real control of our universe and our surroundings. Look at any house or workplace, they are often, even at very high levels of wealth, make do habitats. There are scuffs on the skirting board, some chair or table is getting a little worn. Even hugely expensively designed homes, on closer examination, prove to be compromises.
There is a reason for this, as a space expands, complete control over large areas becomes nigh impossible. So why this seemingly large and pointless digression? Because the Bentley Flying Spur is nigh on perfect. It is the valiant attempt by Bentley to create a perfect, luxury environment, where you can both drive yourself or be chauffeured. When you get in this car, everything is perfect, not over the top, just perfect self contained luxury. It is a difficult balance to achieve as any American rapper who coats their Mustang in gold will tell you. Where do you stop when budget is unlimited and taste extremely so.
The Flying Spur is the product of superb design sensibilities. A successful mission to create the most ordered luxury environment where everything is controlled and ideal. Nothing is out of place. The car curves around the passengers, whilst retaining space. The back seats have all the room you could possibly need, yet cosset and protect you from the outside world. As you drive along no sound penetrates from outside to disturb your tranquility. Inside you are in the most idealised cocoon of luxury, with every detail immaculate. Bentley have conjured up a design space in four dimensions of considered comfort. The car smells of luxury, it feels luxurious, it is visibly luxurious, it supports and embraces you in luxury, you can even taste the luxury, though licking the leather is not recommended, despite the temptation. Plus the Brunel hide looks far too good for that sort of behaviour.
Bentley have forged a curvaceous space in which utter perfection and luxury reign. You are in control and the world is at your command, if only within the boundaries of the aluminium panels. Whilst you are in that car, the universe bows to desire and delivers only luxury. Getting out of the car is like returning from a luxury holiday. You are back to reality and will miss those heated leather massage seats, the refrigerated wine cooler with its bespoke designer glasses and the soft smooth feel of the steering wheel ( an art sculpture in its own right). In fact I would love it even if it did not move, which of course it does with alarming alacrity.
Within the confines of that car Bentley have designed a perfect world, where everything is right and luxurious. Nothing can possibly go wrong in this car, it whispers serenely and you believe it. Bentley should start designing homes, like a Bentley Huf house. I’ll have two please. Imagine all that engineering know how and innovation applied to the house building industry. Seems an obvious next step when you think about it. High tech homes that fit seamlessly with your car.
As mentioned it does move, from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds, with a V8 S engine that you cannot even hear on wheels so large I thought they had been pinched from a tractor. Well, we were touring English vineyards, maybe they thought we would be going off road in the deep chalky mud, though weirdly enough we did end up doing just that at Exton Park, very, very carefully, but you’ll have to read that in a later chapter. The S stands for sport by the way, so it has a 4.0 litre twin turbo charged V8 engine that can reach a top speed of 190 mph with a torque of 680 Nm / 502 lb.ft or a whopping 521 bhp. Even at 2.97 tonnes it shifts so fast you can still pin yourself and the passengers to the seat if a little power demonstration is deemed necessary. Urban fuel economy is 17.8 mpg and extra urban 35.3 mpg so not all bad and probably not a worry for this car’s audience. It also features a ZF eight speed automatic gearbox with permanent four wheel drive and the sport setting on the gears will have it trouncing most Porsches out there. Indeed my neighbour was more than a little disappointed that he was unable to beat any of the Bentley’s specifications with his treasured Porsche in our little friendly game of car trumps.
So the aformentioned English vineyards we had selected to visit on our luxury tour were Bluebell Vineyard Estates who make Hindleap, Ridgeview Wine Estate, Bolney Wine Estate and Exton Park Vineyard, via the 5 star Lainston House hotel in Winchester. Click the chapter links below to read each episode of the adventure!
The Bentley Flying Spur V8 S starting price is £142,800, but with the various extras including the Naim entertainment system, comfort specifications and Mulliner driving with 21” black machined wheels (they are gorgeous) you’ll be looking at £190,765.
As Butch Cassidy said to the bank guard, “it’s a small price to pay for beauty!”