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First look: Bentley facelifts Flying Spur

Flagship: New Speed variant comes in at the top of the facelifted range.

Update for Bentley’s Flying Spur as four-door Continental gets a 600hp Speed sibling

10 Jun 2008

BENTLEY has given its Continental Flying Spur sedan an extensive facelift that comprises a host of cosmetic, refinement and ride quality upgrades, and introduces a second model variant in the new 600 horsepower Speed flagship.

The improved, twin-pronged Flying Spur range is due to be available in Australia from November, and represents the first update for the entry-level Continental derivative since the four-door joined the then-two-year-old two-door Conti GT Coupe on sale here in February 2006.

The Continental GTC Convertible ($405,500) and GT Speed Coupe ($407,500) both joined the range here in November last year, and it is the latter that provides the inspiration for the new Flying Spur Speed.

The single-variant Flying Spur is currently priced at $353,000 - $26,500 below the GT ($379,500). Full pricing and availability for the 2009 model year Flying Spur range, which is now open for orders, will be announced soon.

Bolstered by a more extensive range of interior and exterior options, the revised Flying Spur features subtle styling revisions at both ends, including a more upright grille with “bright chrome matrix”, larger and lower air-intakes and chromed headlight bezels, plus a sleeker new rear bumper and bright tail-light bezels.

The Flying Spur’s “aluminium-intensive” suspension receives new spring, anti-roll bar and damping settings, while specific new 19-inch Pirelli UHP tyres on new five-spoke 19-inch alloys are said to offer “outstanding levels of ride quality, comfort and refinement”.

Backing up Bentley’s claim of best-in-class cabin refinement are new noise-deadening measures including acoustic side and rear glass, tri-laminate body undertrays and wheelhouse liners and a retuned exhaust. There is also the latest Bosch ESP 8.1 stability control system with “Sport Traction” mode.

54 center imageNew options include radar-operated Adaptive Cruise Control and a new 1100-Watt audio system designed exclusively for Bentley by British hi-fi manufacturer Naim.

Claimed to be the most powerful unit offered in a production car, it features 15 custom-built speakers and a next-generation Digital Signal Processor. It can be paired with a new optional glovebox-located iPod, MP3 and USB interface.

There will also be a wider choice of interior wood “marquetry” and chrome inlays, two new leather colours (Linen and Imperial Blue) with, for the first time in the Flying Spur, seat piping in 16 leather colours, an optional bright chrome matrix lower grille and three new exterior paint colours (Havana, White Sand and Onyx) and four new duo-tone paint combinations (Havana, Dark Sapphire, Onyx and Midnight Emerald).

Aluminium foot pedals incorporating the “B” Bentley logo will be joined by an optional new full-width rear seat with electrically-adjustable outboard positions and a fixed central seat.

The big news, however, is the addition of what is billed as the most powerful four-door car yet produced by the historic British maker. The GT Speed was hailed as Bentley’s most powerful production car ever, period, and its donor model was claimed to be the world’s fastest four-seater production car when it was launched globally in 2003.

Bentley says the Flying Spur Speed “unleashes the same potent performance and intense levels of driver engagement” as the GT Speed, with which it shares a name that dates back to 1923 – as well its higher-performance twin-turbocharged 48-valve 6.0-litre W12 engine sourced from its Volkswagen Group parent.

As in the Speed coupe, the Speed sedan’s massaged 12-cylinder VW-built engine develops 449kW (or a neat 600bhp) at 6000rpm and 750Nm of torque at 1750rpm. That’s nine per cent more power and 15 per cent more torque than the ‘garden-variety’ twin-turbo W12, which delivers 412kW and 650Nm in the Continental GT, GTC and Flying Spur.

Mated to the same six-speed ZF automatic transmission an all-wheel drivetrain, it makes the Continental Speed sedan almost as quick as the Speed coupe, which was the first Bentley production car to offer a top speed of more than 200mp/h or 322km/h, at 326km/h, and now the slightly heavier Flying Spur Speed also cracks the magic 200mp/h figure, as well as being 10km/h faster than the regular Flying Spur.

The Speed is also four-tenths quicker to 100km/h than the Flying Spur (4.8 versus 5.2 seconds), but the GT Speed remains the quickest at 4.5 seconds.

Over the Flying Spur, the Speed gains a lower ride height, “uprated and redesigned” suspension and retuned Servotronic power steering to improve agility and body control, plus 9.5x20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels with bespoke 20-inch Pirelli P-Zero tyres. Optional fade-resistant carbon ceramic brakes are said to provide improved brake feel.

Like its two-door namesake, the four-door Speed is further distinguished by dark-tinted radiator and air-intake grilles and a wider, rifled exhaust outlet. Inside there are ‘Speed’ treadplates to all four doors, a three-spoke “Sport” leather steering wheel, drilled alloy pedals, a knurled chrome/hide gearlever, diamond-quilted hide seat facings and door panels and an optional bright or dark tint aluminium fascia panel.

“The global success of the Continental Flying Spur has created a new generation of Bentley owners. Responding to their feedback, we have refined an already remarkable car and with the debut of the Flying Spur Speed we are extending its appeal,” said Bentley chairman and chief executive, Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen.

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