By Mike Torpey on 2023-02-05 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Bentley Flying Spur
RUNNING costs may not figure too high on the agenda of those able to afford a new Bentley, especially if it has been personalised with the bespoke Mulliner treatment.
But for the more environmentally aware owners of the Silver Spur Hybrid, it must be comforting to know that they are behind the wheel of the most efficient Bentley model ever built.
Featuring a 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbocharged petrol engine supported by a 100kW electric motor, the powertrain delivers a seismic degree of thrust, capable of launching the Flying Spur from standstill to 60mph in 4.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 177mph.
Yet its hybrid system makes for a driving range, according to official Bentley figures, of 435 miles - for the disciplined driver at least.
While two other engines are available for the Flying Spur, comprising a 4.0-litre V8 or 6.0-litre W12, the hybrid is much the most interesting because, economy apart, it points to the future of what is now the world's most popular luxury car brand.
Bentley is pledged to a strategy it calls ‘Beyond 100' through which the company is committed to producing only electric cars by 2030.
The Flying Spur Hybrid is the brand's second electrified model, following the Bentayga SUV, and demonstrates in the clearest terms why the process need not compromise fundamental Bentley values like luxury and performance.
Changes from other Flying Spur models see the automatic Start-Stop switch in the cabin replaced by a control for the three E modes - EV Drive, Hybrid Mode and Hold Mode - which enable the driver to manage battery usage during a journey.
For instance EV Drive - useful for city or suburban driving - is engaged the moment the car is started up and maximises the electric drive experience, with added info coming via the instrument panel, head-up display and centre screen.
We could wax lyrical about how sedately the car rides, how it accelerates without any unnecessary drama, how it copes with tight rural lanes, but this is ultimately a pointless exercise when it comes to what's simply a force of nature, but one constructed from the finest materials possible and assembled with painstaking precision.
To add a degree of perspective, there are no less than 350 unique leather pieces in the Flying Spur's cabin, using almost two miles of thread and passing through the talented hands of 141 Bentley colleagues.
And the Flying Spur's steering wheel features some of the most intricate hand-stitching and leatherwork in the motor industry, a cross-stitched wheel requiring 16-foot of thread passing through 352 sew holes to complete 168 cross stitches.
Nor are we aren't talking just any old leather - it all comes from north European bulls grazed in a temperate climate and above a certain altitude to avoid blemishes from insects, parasites or barbed wire fences.
Comfort is paramount, whether you like to drive or - as is the case with many Bentley owners - prefer to be driven.
To that end the Flying Spur has everything from massage seats to picnic tables and Champagne bottle coolers, mood lighting throughout and a rotating central dash display which enables swsitching between technology and classic design, plus touchscreen remote control in the rear.
Then there's Mulliner, the world's oldest coachbuilder, dating back to the 18 century and responsible for helping build unique Bentley models for the last 100 years,
Buyers can basically pick whatever they want from a mind-boggling amount of woods, veneers, leather, colour schemes - the list goes on - but at the end of the process no two Bentleys are the same, every car an individual piece of automotive history.
And historic is the correct way to describe these cars because it's a fact that an incredible 84 per cent of Bentleys ever built are still on the road today.
Bentley Flying Spur Mulliner Hybrid
Mechanical:544ps, 2,894cc V6 petrol engine plus 100kW electric motor driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic transmission
Combined MPG:85.6mpg Combined
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