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2023 Bentley Flying Spur Speed W12 review (video)

Blending exquisite luxury with unadulterated performance is no easy task for ordinary carmakers, but Bentley has been building vehicles that embrace this concept for around 100 years. Yep, that long. The 2023 Bentley Flying Spur Speed W12 is a remarkable embodiment of this marriage between opulence and velocity. But it’s not going to be around for much longer. Not using its traditional recipe anyway.

Sadly, this is set to be one of the last of the Flying Spur models to feature Bentley’s legendary W12 engine. The company has confirmed it will cease production of the incredible 12-cylinder unit in April 2024. What’s next? Electric power. If you’ve always wanted a W12, you need to act fast.

2023 Bentley Flying Spur Speed: Specifications

Engine: 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12
Output: 467kW@6000rpm / 900Nm@1350-4500rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive, four-wheel steering with torque vectoring
Wheels: F: 22×9.5, 275/35 R: 22×11, 315/30
ANCAP: Five stars
Tare weight: 2382kg
Power-to-weight: 5.10:1 (kg:kW)
Official consumption: 14.8L/100km
Our consumption: 16L/100km
Fuel tank/Fuel type: 90L/98 RON
Power efficiency: 31.55kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 2.11 seconds*
0-100km/h: 3.98 seconds*
0-200km/h: 12.50 seconds*
60-110km/h: 2.43 seconds*
1/4 mile: 11.96 seconds at 195.8km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.753g*
100-0km/h braking: 37.65m in 3.06 seconds*
Max deceleration: -1.257g*
Decibel at idle (/sport mode): 40/43*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 81*
Starting price: $573,900

*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different

2023 Bentley Flying Spur Speed: How much does it cost?

The Flying Spur is available with a V8, a V6 hybrid, and, for a limited time, a W12 engine. The W12 is only available in the Speed variant, which makes sense since it is extremely fast.

Losing the W12 makes us very sad because this engine goes so well with the overall character of the Flying Spur; smooth and calm yet immensely powerful and majestic.

Prices start from $573,900. Although, if the word budget exists in your vocabulary, and it probably doesn’t if you’re browsing this end of the market, you might like to know the entry Flying Spur V8 starts from $467,700 (all excluding on-road costs).

2023 Bentley Flying Spur Speed: Interior & packaging

One step inside and you’re instantly aware this is something very special. It’s a sanctuary on wheels that cocoons its occupants in luxury. From the diamond-quilting on the seats and doors, carbon fibre veneers across the dash and door cards, and the beautifully-finished switchgear throughout the cabin showcase Bentley’s dedication to quality and refinement.

Very soft leather upholstery, sourced from premium hides and available in a wide array of colours, is spread throughout the cabin, with suede-wrapped pillows for the rear-seat passengers. It is as comfortable as lying in your own bed.

The rear seats feature electronic massage functions, ventilation and heating, and electronic adjustment including recline. Furthermore, the spacious rear area is complemented by a centre console, allowing passengers to control various aspects of their journey, including climate and infotainment, via a touch-screen.

Buyers can select between a range of high-end sound systems, including a standard 10-speaker system, a 16-speaker ‘Bang & Olufsen for Bentley’ system, or an ear-melting 18-speaker ‘Naim for Bentley’ sound system to satisfy the most discerning audiophiles. That latter setup costs an extra $18,889.

Some of the dash is starting to show signs of its age, considering this current generation has been around now for about four years. But it’s actually refreshing to see physical controls and things that move for a change. As opposed to only interacting with digital screens these days. These are not your typical buttons or controls, either. Much of the switchgear is crafted from metal that’s been polished to perfection.

As you’d expect, the attention to detail is awesome. This example features carbon fibre side skirts with imprinted Bentley logos, an exquisite flying B sculpture that rises out from the nose complete with illuminated wings, and even double-glazed windows for sound and climate insulation. It is pretty much completely silent inside.

A large boot measuring 420L provides excellent cross country touring capability, although, we doubt many owners will be carrying their own luggage. But at least the option is here.

2023 Bentley Flying Spur Speed: Powertrain & handling

The Flying Spur is based on VW Group’s MSB platform, like the Porsche Panamera and the Continental for that matter. For the Flying Spur it comes with adjustable air suspension as standard, along with four-wheel steering.

At the heart of the Speed is the glorious 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 engine. It is essentially two staggered six-cylinder engines merged together – loosely based on VW’s old VR6 engine – spinning on a common crankshaft. It’s so smooth you can balance a coin on its side on the top of the engine while it’s idling (see our video below).

With 467kW and 900Nm, it is very empowering to drive. You’re always aware that you have this massive amount of energy right at your foot. You feel like the ruler of the world. As such, performance is outstanding. Especially considering this weighs in at 2382kg. Using a private road and a Vbox, we clocked 0-100km/h in just 3.98 seconds and the quarter-mile in just 11.96 seconds at 195.8km/h. Astonishing figures for this style of vehicle.

The sound from the W12 is marvellous. There’s a deep undertone throughout the rev range, but down low it produces a raspy crackle which then turns into a howling bark as the tacho needle swings around. It is a very responsive unit, too, building revs like a highly-tuned inline-six.

All of that power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed, Porsche-developed dual-clutch transmission, ensuring seamless and immediate power delivery. We couldn’t detect any wheelspin or slip at all, even using the car’s launch control system to catapult off the line.

Driving modes, including Comfort, Bentley (default), and Sport allow you to tailor the car’s character to your preference. In Comfort mode, the Flying Spur Speed glides over the road like a cloud, making long journeys an absolute pleasure. Switch to Sport, and the car lowers down and transforms into a dynamic machine that’s ready to carve through winding roads with confidence and poise.

The advanced all-wheel-drive system, complete with torque vectoring, ensures that every bit of power is utilised effectively, giving the driver an immense sense of control, regardless of road conditions. It doesn’t come with the limited-slip diff like the Continental Speed, but, honestly, I punished this thing around bends and it didn’t skip a beat.

All of this results in a car that feels exhilarating and composed, and comfortable all at the same time. It’s a testament to Bentley’s engineering prowess that it can make a car this heavy and large feel so agile.

Braking performance is top-notch as well, with massive brakes and advanced brake-by-wire technology ensuring the Speed W12 comes to a halt with the same grace with which it accelerates. Measuring 420mm on the front, these are the largest steel brakes ever fitted to a production car.

2023 Bentley Flying Spur Speed: Key attractions/reasons to buy

Yes, it offers unparalleled luxury and it’s a masterpiece of craftsmanship, oozing with comfort and majestic presence. But, scrap all that, it’s actually the engaging driving character that we love most. You can properly push this beast and tackle a spirited road, and it just looks back at you, as if to say; ‘Is that all you’ve got?’

The four-wheel steering clearly helps to improve agility in lower speed corners, and increase stability during higher speeds ones. And the air suspension is unbelievable. It’s hard to comprehend how it can soak up big mid-corner bumps so comfortably, yet remain flat and committed.

If you’re in this market, the Flying Spur Speed is the variant to go for, almost purely because of that W12 engine in our opinion. It is sure to become a future classic and a highly desirable collector’s car.

2023 Bentley Flying Spur Speed: Key considerations before you buy

Fuel economy is probably not going to be a concern for most buyers, but if you need to know, the W12 offers an official average of 14.8L/100km. We averaged about 16L during our mostly spirited test drive. It comes with a 90L fuel tank though which translates to a theoretical average range of 608km.

If you love new-age technologies and futuristic design concepts, then the Flying Spur might not be to your taste. This is old-school regarding those perspectives. The touch-screen is great and offers plenty of interaction possibilities but it’s not massive and it doesn’t control every function. That’s both a good thing and bad thing, depending on your stance.

With the W12 engine it is perhaps not seen as environmentally-friendly as some of the new fully electric models coming out – even though there are still questions marks regarding the full-cycle environmental impact of producing and disposing of EVs compared with combustion-engine vehicles, in our opinion. However, if you want to be seen as proactively taking steps towards a ‘green’ future then yes, the W12 might not be of interest.

To us, this is easily one of the most enjoyable and entertaining large luxury vehicles we’ve ever driver. The W12 is such a technical marvel – it’s amazing it even works at all, let alone sounds this good and produces this much power. We’ll miss it dearly.

2023 Bentley Flying Spur Speed: Video

How does it rates against its rivals?
  • Price
  • Quality look & feel
  • Interior tech
  • Powertrain performance
  • Ride & handling
  • X-factor (does it stand out in its class?)

Fina word

It’s the grand tourer that doesn’t just defy physics with its immense power, but it also ensures that every journey is a first-class experience thanks to wholesome lashings of attention to detail and comfort-focused features. With a clever all-wheel drive system and four-wheel steering, it is surprisingly agile in the bends, too. It is just such a shame the W12 is being killed off, as it complements these characteristics perfectly.

Brett Davis

Brett started out as a motor mechanic, but eventually became frustrated working on cars that weren't his. He then earned a degree in journalism and scored a job at Top Gear Australia back in 2008, and then worked at Zoom/Extreme Performance magazines, CarAdvice, and started PerformanceDrive/PDriveTV in 2011 with Josh Bennis, and ran it for 12 years. He's now the owner and managing editor here at Driving Enthusiast.
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