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New Bentley Flying Spur ride review

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Bentley Flying Spur - front tracking

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8 Jul, 2019 11:30am James Brodie

We hitch a ride in the brand new Bentley Flying Spur as it powers up Goodwood's famous hillclimb route

Our ride up the Goodwood Hillclimb in the new Mk3 Bentley Flying Spur doesn’t really begin at the start line. Instead, our first impression from the passenger seat kicks off the moment we open the door in the paddock.

This may be the baby to the more regal Mulsanne, but the hustle and bustle of the Goodwood crowds is quelled almost completely the moment the door shuts. Immediately, you know you’re in a Bentley, and you know you’re in a close relation to the Continental GT too, given the cabin is lifted almost wholesale from the brand’s big coupe. That’s no bad thing – the current Continental is one of the most elegant grand tourers to spend time in.

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In the driver’s seat is Bentley’s head of chassis dynamics, Andy Unsworth, who makes it plain from the off what he and his team of drivers have aimed to create with the new car.

“It’s all about achieving a balance between being a sporty driver’s car that people will want to drive, and achieving nice controlled ride comfort with good isolation levels for chauffeur driven passengers.”

We would have loved to have tried the new car from the back row – after all, many who buy this car will spend their time there. However, Goodwood rules meant we rode up front.

One more new feature of the Flying Spur unfolds before we hit the hillclimb – its ability to weave through the tight turns of the dense, crowded paddock with minimal fuss. That’s thanks to a new four-wheel steering system, appearing on a Bentley for the first time.

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Bentley Flying Spur - side tracking

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“The rear axle steering on this is a first for us. It really helps with agility at low speeds but we also use it right up to V-max, so cruising at high speeds it’s really composed and relaxed,” explains Unsworth. It bodes well for buyers intending to take their Flying Spur into town.

Powered by Bentley’s 626bhp 6.0-litre turbocharged W12 engine, the performance figures put out by the Flying Spur are serious – 0-62mph takes 3.8 seconds, aided by all-wheel-drive and a monumental torque figure. All 900Nm can be summoned with a stomp on the throttle, and for such a large and heavy car the Flying Spur gets away from the start line with serious agility.

We’re going up the hill in Sport mode, unlocking the engine’s maximum potential. But the W12 up front remains unstressed, shifting through the eight-speed gearbox as fast and as smoothly as it can, while noise is kept to a minimum.

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Bentley Flying Spur - rear static

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Unsworth is taking the course at speed, and though the Goodwood hillclimb is only a little over a mile long it does through up imperfections, bumps and a crowned surface, possessing the potential to unseat heavy cars.

In Sport mode there’s little body movement in the big Bentley, however, and as Unsworth explains, Bentley’s engineers have had to allow the air suspension system to roll just a little at the limit, to retain a more natural feeling to the way the car corners.

“We’ve got the three chamber air springs, so you end up with little body roll and just tyre squash. It goes up to about 0.7g and then it starts to allow a little roll just so that you get the recognition of reaching the limit.”

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