The Sporty Side of Decadence
I’m a firm believer that there are roads out there that have been built for some very specific cars. People in 1950 Woody Station wagons, for example, should be the only ones allowed to drive Route 66 in the United States. Similarly, Fiat 500 or candy-apple red Ferrari owners should be the only ones allowed to traverse the hills of Tuscany.
Albeit sounding a bit ludicrous, these visions, were the driving force behind my giddiness when the keys to a Rubino Red Bentley Flying Spur V8S were offered to me for a full on test drive. Can you think of a more appropriate place to test a Bentley than the roads of Dubai and the greater UAE as a whole? I didn’t think so.
If you stand back for a moment and take a long, slow glance at the Flying Spur V8S, you immediately know that this is not a luxury cruiser for the stuffy shirt, post life-crisis individuals. This Bentley was made for the younger driver. The faster driver. The driver that wants the exhilaration from the open road while maintaining the ultimate refinement…so as I mentioned, the roads of Dubai just felt right.
Sporty Styling Cues Hidden Performance
The urban chicness of the Flying Spur has no limitation. You’ll turn heads wherever you go and for the entire duration of my drive from Dubai to Al Ain, I never once got high-beamed from behind by an SUV trying to outrun the speed cameras, shoving me out of the way.
Standard, the V8S comes with a race-inspired black mesh front grill, red painted brake calipers, 20 inch alloys wrapped with Pirelli P Zeros, plus red Bentley badges on the front and rear. Yes, it is striking.
But the look isn’t the impressive thing. The most impressive, jaw-dropping feature is the raw hidden power. Bentley’s 4.0 liter, twin-turbo V8 S engine delivers 521 horsepower. Meaning that you can get two and a half tonnes of car to sprint from zero to 60mph in 4.9 seconds, which if you’re comparing…is in the Ferrari neighborhood.
While all of this is happening under the hood in the front, in the back of your luxury sedan you’ll find a Beluga gloss rear diffuser. A diffuser is normally found on race cars, well actually under them to be precise and the science behind it is what keeps a race car glued to the track. Their sole job is to make sure that you don’t leave the ground when you’re traveling at ultra high rates of speed.
Basically, diffusers rely on the same principles that keep a 618-ton Airbus in the sky…only inverted.
On an F1 car, the diffuser could be responsible for up to 1,000 pounds of downward force. So why would you need those on a Bentley you ask? Well, remember the 4.9 seconds from before? The Flying Spur V8S has a very special party trick, it has a top speed of 190mph…so please make sure your tray tables and seat backs are in the fully upright and locked positions.
This really hard to believe straight-line speed, feels gnarly and ruthless in smaller, lighter cars. But when you divide the power to be delivered to the road via an all-wheel drive system, it somehow feels sure-footed while maintaining the thrill and outrageousness.
However, Bentley has not completely ignored the rising gas prices in other parts of the world. The V8S has the ability to cover more than 500 miles before the need to refuel, all thanks to the Variable Displacement function. To reduce fuel consumption while gently cruising, four of the eight cylinders will shut down. When more power is required, the engine switches back automatically, without any loss of refinement, to all eight cylinders.
But driving the V8S is only half of the experience. The other half comes from being a passenger. So let’s move to the back from where, sadly, most owners will be found.
First Class: now available with 4 wheels
The Flying Spur comes completely tricked out with a suite of onboard technology to make it the ideal place for mixing a little business with pleasure. The spec package begins with 10-inch screens mounted behind the front seats, on-board Wi-Fi and a pop out touchscreen remote. It’s about the size of a smart phone and controls everything from changing the TV channel to altering the heated/cooled/massaging rear seats. It even streams the driver’s dash allowing the passenger to keep an eye on the navigation and the current rate of blistering speed.
Going one-step further on the ‘options package’, you should definitely get the fold-down rear picnic tables with vanity mirror and lights (I wasn’t kidding about the tray tables before) and rear mounted refrigerator behind the center armrest. And while you’re at it, throw in the completely automatic side window blinds…just because you can. This is still on top of the fully loaded infotainment system, which can also be controlled from the aforementioned wireless remote.
One feature that I certainly applaud Bentley for coming up with is the panoramic solar paneled sunroof. I did find it a little disappointing that my only option when it came to natural light in the cabin was either none at all or fully open with the wind whipping in my hair. But this soon passed when I learned what the solar panel was for.
The sunroof is still made of glass, but inlaid with photovoltaic solar panels. When the panel is closed, the solar cells provide enough electricity to power the interior ventilation fans, thus cooling the car’s interior on hot days when the car is standing outside in the sunlight. I don’t know if Bentley invented these or not, but in this driver’s opinion, they should be available on every car.
Be A ‘Spirited’ Driver
So is this sport sedan decadent? Yes a thousand times over. Sport on one end, but comfort on the other. It is long, wide, and heavy yet somehow feels extremely balanced and agile. Outside of the times when you stand on the brake pedal or are ferociously attacking a tight hairpin, it is hard to believe that this is a 2.5-ton car.
The pleasures, both mechanical and visual, are something that you need to experience to truly understand. It may not be as grand or expensive as its sister Mulsanne, or as fast as the Continental GT, but Bentley still believes the Flying Spur V8S is a cut above the rest. Wolfgang Dürheimer, chairman and chief executive of Bentley Motors, said “It’s the perfect choice for the customer who wants ultimate refinement as well as an exhilarating, spirited drive.”
I agree. So I invite you all to become a spirited driver and search for the opportunity to exploit the full potential of what the design team has developed; an athletic vehicle that combines Bentley styling with sporty giddiness. And why shouldn’t you try it out, there are roads out there to allow you to take full advantage.
Base price: $250,000
Engine: Bi-Turbo V8
Power: 521 Horsepower
0-60mph: 4.9 seconds
Rivals: Nothing Specific