The All-New Bentley Flying Spur Is More Improved than It Looks

More luxury, more driver involvement, and more power make it more than meets the eye.

With just a quick initial glance at the all-new 2020 Bentley Flying Spur, one could be forgiven for thinking it's merely been facelifted; after all, the car has kept its general shape and proportions. Don't be fooled, though, as the new Flying Spur is a very different car, one that upholds the expected standards of luxury but promises increased performance and driver appeal.

From the outside, the new Flying Spur keeps the same basic proportions as the outgoing car, no easy trick given that the wheelbase has been stretched by just over five inches while the length remains essentially unchanged. The creases that carry from over the wheel arches and into the doors have been sharpened, giving the car a more muscular look, and the roofline looks a little faster and a little lower.

The biggest change is up front, where the parking lights have moved outboard of the headlights, just as on the Continental GT. Also notable is the new "Flying B" hood ornament that now retracts into the hood, a subtle taunt for former parent Rolls-Royce, perhaps, which is well known for the Spirit of Ecstasy statuette that disappears into the radiator shell.

Like the Continental GT, the new Flying Spur is based on the Volkswagen Group's MSB platform, the same one that underpins the Porsche Panamera. Extensive use of aluminum (sorry, aluminium) helps to lower the weight by some 88 pounds. The Flying Spur shares many of the Conti's chassis enhancements, including a higher-volume air springs, 48-volt Dynamic Ride suspension (which can change the stiffness of the anti-roll bars on the fly), the world's largest iron brakes, and torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive. The Flying Spur also gets a variable exhaust so it can shout when you're driving and whisper when you're being chauffeured. As you'd expect, the Flying Spur offers a long list of active driver-assistance and safety features, including a head-up display and a night-vision camera.

The Flying Spur gets one innovation that no Bentley has ever had: Four-wheel steering. As with most such systems, the Spur's turns the rear wheels opposite the front wheels at low speeds and in the same direction at high speeds, the goal being to improve both maneuverability and agility.

Power comes from an improved version of the hand-built 6.0-liter (sorry, litre) twin-turbo W-12 engine, which now produces 626 horsepower (up by 10) and 664 lb-ft of torque (up 74). As with the Conti GT, the transmission is an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. The new Flying Spur is significantly quicker than the old one: Bentley estimates a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 207 mph, improvements of 0.6 second and 8 mph. Bentley hasn't made any announcements about a V-8 version, but we imagine one will follow in the next year or so.

Inside, you'll find the expected best-of-the-best interior with the finest leather and hand-finished wood trim. Like the Continental, the Flying Spur offers the Bentley Rotating Display, a three-sided affair that rotates in the center of the dash to feature either a 12.3-inch touchscreen, a trio of analog gauges (outside temp, compass and clock), or a blank panel that matches the veneer on the dash. For back-seaters, there's a removable touchscreen remote that manages the rear-seat climate controls, seat massagers, and blinds.

Audio options include a 16-speaker, 1,500 watt Bang & Olufsen system and a 2,200-watt, 19-speaker Naim system with active bass transducers built into the front seats. Bentley offers 15 different colors of leather and seven different wood veneers, and if you can't find a combination to your liking, Bentley will create pretty much anything you want through its Mulliner customization program.

Ready to start living it up? Bentley will begin taking orders for the new Flying Spur this fall, with first deliveries early in 2020. Pricing has not been announced, but we expect the new car to start somewhere north of the old W-12's $225,000 starting price.

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