You would think a 500bhp engine and a top speed of 183mph would be enough for most people. But not Bentley, which decided that the performance of its “ordinary” Flying Spur V8 was not quite strong enough. So it has introduced the V8 S.
This squeezes out an extra 21bhp from its four-litre V8, has a top speed of 190mph and accelerates to 60mph in 4.6 seconds, rather than 4.9 for the “slow” version — all for £10,000 extra.
This is a huge car, and it feels it. Whereas Bentley’s much pricier Mulsanne seems to fold around you and feel smaller than it is, the Flying Spur always feels big, with a huge overhang over the rear wheels and a long, long bonnet.
Being a Bentley, the finish is superb, the boot is the size of a rugby pitch and the beautifully comfortable seats are sumptuous. But not everything is perfect. On some surfaces, especially concrete motorway sections, the tyre roar and body resonance is pretty unacceptable, and worse than in some much more modest cars. In some ways, it falls between two stools. In the smaller Continental, this engine snarls like a WWII fighter plane. In the Flying Spur it is more refined, but much noisier than the W12 engine option, which is truly whisper-quiet.
The basic price of £142,800 can go up like a rocket with a few options. For example, carbon ceramic brakes are an extra £10,825, cruise control costs £2,125 and full-length centre console is £3,025. The £46,010 worth of extras on the test car brought it to £188,810.
When the Volkswagen group bought Bentley, the best thing it did was to let it retain its sense of Britishness, and even if the Flying Spur V8 S isn’t the best Bentley, it’s still pretty special.
Bentley Flying Spur V8 S
Combined MPG: 25.9
Top speed: 190mph