Bentley hatches fastest four-door

Bentley has revealed its all-new Flying Spur ahead of its public premiere at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

The Flying Spur is essentially the sedan version of the Continental coupe and sits below the flagship Mulsanne limousine, but with a more sporting character as it becomes the fastest four-door the British company has ever produced.

While it shares the Continental’s mechanical underpinnings, the Flying Spur has unique body panels and is longer, wider and slightly taller than its coupe sibling to accommodate its rear-seat passengers with greater levels of comfort as well as more luggage space in the boot.

The car measures 5295mm in length (589mm longer the Continental) with a wheelbase that has been extended by 319mm, and the extra sheetmetal has contributed to a 155kg increase in kerb weight, with the Flying Spur tipping the scales at a hefty 2475kg.

While that’s a heavyweight in anyone’s books, Bentley has transferred the same superforming technology it learnt from the aerospace industry and first introduced on the Continental to create the Flying Spur’s shapely lightweight aluminium panels, including a bonnet that pops up to prevent injuries in pedestrian accidents.

Bentley says it has used the lightweight technology to shave 50kg off the Flying Spur’s basic body and offset the added strengthening components needed to increase its rigidity by 4 per cent for improved handling and lower levels of noise intruding into the cabin.

The cabin, available in either four- or five-seat configurations, has come in for a complete overhaul, with Bentley claiming it features 600 new parts. It says only the sun visors, grab handles, armrests and some of the centre console and controls are carried over from the previous generation.

Unlike the driver-focused Continental, the Flying Spur has been created with rear-seat passengers at the forefront with heated, ventilated and power-adjustable pews for all passengers, electric privacy blinds and a nine-litre fridge behind the centre armrest to “keep drinks perfectly chilled”.

Further to that, the Flying Spur has a Touch Screen Remote in the console that allows rear passengers to control functions such as the audio system, heating and ventilation and satellite navigation, presumably eliminating the need to communicate with the “hired help” behind the wheel. Owners can also specify the Flying Spur with an optional multi-media system that adds a pair of 10-inch LCD screens on the back of the front seats as well as what is dubbed the Bentley Connectivity Unit. The unit has its own SIM card and 64GB hard drive, creating a wireless hot spot to connect to the internet.

While the Continental is available with either the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 or a 6.0-litre twin turbo W12, the Flying Spur will initially be launched with only the latter engine option. The unique engine – essentially two narrow-angle V6s sharing the same crankshaft – produces 460kW at 6000rpm and 800Nm of torque from just 2000rpm. It drives all four wheels through a variable all-wheel drive system with an eight-speed automatic transmission. That is enough to propel the Flying Spur from 0-100km/h in just 4.3sec and onto a top speed of 322km/h – 24km/h faster than the Mulsanne.

The Flying Spur’s air suspension system has also been modified with softer spring rates (10 per cent at the front and 13 per cent at the rear), anti-roll bars and bushes to improve the ride comfort and reduce noise. Despite this, Bentley claims the electronically controlled system offers improved high-speed stability.

The Bentley Flying Spur is expected to arrive in Australia early in 2014 with a starting price of around $425,000.