The Continental Flying Spur represents an interesting chapter in Bentley’s history. This was the second manoeuvre in Volkswagen’s rejuvenation of the brand, the first having been the impressively popular Continental GT – the two-door grand tourer so beloved of footballers and captains of industry. The Flying Spur can, in fact, be viewed as an evolution of the coupe, swelling it into a luxury limousine in the style of Bentleys of old. Indeed, the underpinnings of the Continental Flying Spur are essentially shared with the smaller Continental (hence the name), fused with a sprinkling of DNA from VW’s Phaeton luxo-barge. If you imagine a fusion of the Phaeton’s steel chassis and air suspension with the Conti’s brawny 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 engine and sumptuous cabin accoutrements, that’s basically the formula. Oh, but it was so much more than that: the Flying Spur had every bit of the Continental’s tectonic mile-munching ability, premium appointments and vivid performance, combined with genuine limousine spaciousness out back. All things to all men? Sure, if they had deep pockets… the cost of entry to this exclusive club started above £133,000 back in 2005, before the many, many option boxes were ticked.
A lot of money, but also a heck of a lot of car; that mighty engine produces an incredible 552bhp and 479lb.ft, and Torsen-based all-wheel-drive came as standard. It may be a weighty luxury car boasting all the trimmings, but this behemoth can hammer to 62mph in 5.2 seconds, going on to a top whack of 194mph, and it’s no slouch in the twisties either thanks to its Adaptive Air Suspension and Continuous Damping Control. And what’s most intriguing of all is that, thanks to the passage of a decade-and-a-half and the ensuing depreciation, this astonishing and formidable machine can be acquired for a mere fraction of that original plutocrat-spec sticker price, without so much as a hint of compromise.
Provenance is key when it comes to buying something as premium and specialist as a modern-era Bentley, and this was certainly front-of-mind when the owner selected this car three years ago. A top-tier addition to his wide and varied collection, this example was a one-owner car (there’s HPI documentation to verify this) which had always been serviced at the correct intervals at a Bentley main dealer.
Throughout his ownership, this keeper has continued the regular maintenance programme with his own local specialist – Silver Lady Brentwood, which has been a renowned Bentley and Rolls-Royce service centre since 1982. The most recent service was in January of this year.
The car has also been to Bentley Cambridge for a comprehensive 15-year service, with the bill totalling in the region £10,000 (around £6,000 of which is invoiced in the paperwork, the remainder being taken care of as a courtesy after the dealer damaged and then replaced a rear caliper). The extent of the work is documented in a seven-page invoice, and the rest of the history is equally complete and correct. Both batteries have recently been replaced. The car comes with two keys, and the private registration number is also included.
This Flying Spur has always been lovingly cared for and maintained, and this is very much reflected in the overall condition. Indeed, with the private plate masking its age, few would guess that it’s actually a 2005 car – it even retains the new leather smell inside!
The overall condition of the exterior is impeccable, with the deep and lustrous paint really gleaming in the sun and all trim present and correct. The only minor imperfections are a piece of chrome side-trim that’s coming ever-so-slightly unstuck on the lower rear bumper, a small scratch near the rear number plate, and a couple of very small car-park dings on the front passenger door. These do nothing to detract from the car’s presence, as it’s undeniably an impressive and imposing beast; subtle and unaggressive, yet at the same time distinctly menacing and rippling with potential – like a wrestler in a tuxedo.
The 19” 8-spoke painted alloy wheels are all in excellent condition, and wearing the correct 275/40 Pirelli P-Zero Rosso tyres which were fitted fewer than five-hundred miles ago.
Under-bonnet presentation is as tidy as you’d expect, with the mighty twin-turbo W12 composing itself in a manner befitting of its social standing: no unseemly leaks, nothing out of place, simply waiting Jeeves-like in the shadows, ready to serve. The underside is similarly free from issues – no problems with the all-wheel-drive system, no knocks, no dings, no corrosion, everything is simply very Bentley-like.
The interior is fabulously well-appointed. It’s never been smoked in, and the list of features includes (but is not limited to) an electric glass solar panel tilt-and-slide sunroof, deep-pile lambswool over mats front and rear, dual-tone leather multifunction steering wheel, drilled alloy pedals, park heater with remote control option, easy exit function, stop-start ignition control, cruise control, programmable heated electric memory front seats, rear seat heaters/coolers and massagers, front and rear climate control, front and rear heated screens, electric rear blind, vehicle height adjuster… the list goes on and on, it’s got everything you could hope for, and everything works. The audio system is clever too, with a TV, sat-nav, traffic reporting, trip computer, phone connectivity, 6CD multichanger, and the hands-free mobile cradle can be operated either via the head unit or the steering wheel. It’s a fabulously classy place to be, and everything operates exactly as it should.
The beating heart of a Continental Flying Spur is that brawny twin-turbo W12 engine, and it’s all in supremely fine fettle here. The car has always been correctly maintained and serviced, and as such the engine presents no issues whatsoever, and freely unleashes its 552bhp on demand when the owner wishes to swap from chauffeur to hooligan.
The transmission is also in perfect working order, and as you’d expect there are no problems with the steering or suspension either. The Bentley’s brakes are devastating in their efficiency, and since the handbrake motor has recently been replaced (a symptom of irregular use and being laid up over the winters – a contributing factor to the decision to sell) that’s also all functioning as it should.
In short, it’s a VW-era Bentley. And when such a thing has been looked after like this one has, there will be no sleepless nights.
For a certain clique of dyed-in-the-wool diehards, the idea of running a Bentley as a daily driver is a no-brainer. But the genius of the Continental Flying Spur is that it’s a Bentley which can happily transcend genres and markets. Yes, it’s a ‘proper’ Bentley that will more than satisfy the traditionalists, but it’s a modern and refined creation with tried-and-tested Germanic DNA too, so there’s little to be wary of here. It may not occur to the average family budget-decider that a full-fat Bentley could act as a sensible family car, but it’s not unreasonable.
On the other hand, the Conti Flying Spur makes a lot of sense to connoisseurs who want premium motoring with a less-than-premium price tag: just remind yourself of the colossal spec of this car, and the almighty performance, and the clever chassis, combined with the fact that this was once a £133,000+ proposition – and, furthermore, consider that this is a machine that will be as reliable and dependable today as it was when it was new. Once the Bentley running costs have been factored in, there’s nothing to fear. In fact, it’s a supremely canny choice. The car itself is incredible; the price is incredible for an entirely different reason. Presidential luxury for Ford Focus money.
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