The new Continental Flying Spur is the fastest four-door in the company’s history, and the fastest in the world, with a top speed of 195mph. It marries the excitement, power, refinement and craftsmanship of the Continental GT with enhanced luxury and space to provide a supreme combination of performance, style and comfort.
The launch of the Continental Flying Spur is a further step forward in the revitalisation of Bentley, which began in 1998 with significant investment in Crewe, the company’s design, engineering and manufacturing headquarters.
The Continental Flying Spur was created at the state-of-the-art Crewe factory, where a 550-strong team of engineers has worked alongside Bentley’s renowned designers, craftsmen and craftswomen. Access to parent company Volkswagen’s worldwide engineering test facilities has also been of prime importance to the development of the car and the Continental Flying Spur has benefitted from the use of the group’s advanced windtunnels, proving grounds and prototyping facilities.
‘The Continental Flying Spur is a brilliant example of how to match world-beating technologies with renowned craftsmanship,’ says Bentley chairman Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen. ‘It is a performance car but not at the cost of comfort and as such represents a unique proposition – a sumptuous and spacious four-door Grand Tourer with the heart and soul of a high-performance coupé.’
Bentley Continental Flying Spur – Design concept
If one phrase could sum up the brief for the Continental Flying Spur concept it would be: ‘no compromise’. That clear but challenging ambition meant the Continental Flying Spur would need to offer the highest levels of elegance and comfort while still delivering performance and driving dynamics normally only found in sports cars.
In short it would be a sporting Grand Tourer with substantial rear legroom for passengers, a stunning interior and breathtaking cabin materials; a car capable of travelling great distances with ease while delivering immense driving pleasure – in other words, a consummate Bentley.
Design director Dirk van Braeckel created the car’s bold and contemporary look at exactly the same time as its sister car, the Continental GT, thereby ensuring a consistency of image and appearance between the coupé and the equally potent four-door version.
‘By designing both cars together, we could ensure that the Continental Flying Spur is unmistakeably related to the Continental GT,’ says van Braeckel. ‘They share presence and authority in equal measure. That means the Continental Flying Spur has a noticeably short front overhang like the GT and a broad, dominant bonnet and radiator grille. It is unmistakeably a Bentley.’
Where the Continental GT coupé drew inspiration from the iconic 1952 Bentley R-Type Continental, the roots of the new four-door can be seen in the equally desirable and admired 1957 four-door Continental Flying Spur; the car from which the new model takes its name.
Clean, contemporary lines stand out on every surface of the new Continental Flying Spur, an effect that was a primary aim of Dirk van Braeckel and his design team, who were keen to ensure that the car was evocative, timeless and unostentatious. This design theme is key to the future direction of all Bentleys, one in which the past will serve as inspiration but won’t dominate the end product. The Continental Flying Spur’s look is intended to offer owners both individuality and understatement.
‘One of the virtues of the Bentley brand has always been understatement,’ says van Braeckel. ‘Even in the early days, many people preferred Bentleys to other more ostentatious cars.’
Where design cues have been evolved from past Bentleys, they are interpreted in a manner that befits a modern four-door Grand Tourer. Central to the Continental Flying Spur’s appearance is the rounded C-pillar behind the rear doors – a motif found on many early Bentleys. This ‘hockey stick’ curve adds tension and sportiness to the car’s profile.
The extra length of the Continental Flying Spur compared to the coupé emphasises the waistline of the car, creating the impression of a deep, solid body that offers seclusion and privacy to its occupants. The elongated profile also benefits the car’s aerodynamic properties, critical when a top speed of 195mph is attainable. The body of the new Continental Flying Spur is also immensely stiff (46Hz resonance frequency) for both strength and durability.
‘We have paid very close attention to the air flow over the car,’ says Bentley’s head of exterior design, Raul Pires. ‘The rear bumper is specifically shaped to funnel air out cleanly from the underbody diffuser and the small aerofoil lip on the trailing edge of the bootlid provides downforce and stability at high speed. The four-door has an even better drag coefficient than the Continental GT – 0.31Cd compared to the coupé’s 0.32Cd.’
Design process technology
Like the Continental GT coupé, the Continental Flying Spur was first designed in the computer virtual world. With all its components existing in the virtual world before a single one was created as a physical property, it was possible to see how each part interacts with all the others, highlighting problems and conflicts that might not otherwise have come to light. This process cut down development time and enabled Bentley’s engineers to design in quality and consistency at a component level.
Bentley also used advanced modelling techniques at the early pre-production stages to ensure that both the exterior and interior of the car were designed to astonishing levels of accuracy. Using a technique known as Data Control Modelling, precision-machined full-scale models of the inside and outside of the car were built using composite materials that are milled to within an accuracy of 0.1mm. The result is a perfect facsimile of the new car that can be used to construct extremely accurate tools for the production stage.
The Continental Flying Spur’s interior proportions provide luxurious legroom for all passengers and an impressive canvas on which Bentley’s interior design team could set to work. Throughout the interior, leather hides or wood veneers on every surface combine to give a welcoming and contemporary environment for the driver and passengers alike.
Inspiration for key elements of the Continental Flying Spur’s interior came from earlier Bentleys. A deep, generous wooden waistrail runs the length of the cabin, producing a feeling of cossetting protection and opulence. Deep waistrails are very much part of Bentley tradition stemming back to the 8-litre Bentleys of the 1930s. ‘The use of so much prominent wood is a really distinguishing factor for any Bentley,’ says Henrik Nordin, interior designer. ‘We have managed to build this into the Continental Flying Spur but without making it feel dated or retro. Instead it feels elegant, sumptuous and subtly sporting, which is exactly the sort of statement this car should make.’
Naturally, wood veneers and leather hides remain an integral part of the Bentley furniture, but they have been tailored to suit the Continental Flying Spur, proving that these most traditional materials can still convey a contemporary feel. Though craftsmanship remains as important as ever, these enduring skills have been complemented by some 21st century technology allowing, for instance, wood veneer to be dramatically curved in a way that would simply not have been possible in the past. And while the hide is still applied to the car with as much loving care as ever, it is cut using a digitised process that ensures minimal levels of wastage and optimum quality levels.
Throughout the car small but ingenious design touches highlight the difference between a Bentley and a conventional luxury saloon. The front seat headrests, for example, have been kept as small as possible to allow passengers in the rear an unobstructed view out. Even the areas behind the interior door levers and grab handles are protected by a stylish metal plate that prevents rings on fingers damaging the precious leather lining.
Interior features and technology
Continental Flying Spur owners will want for nothing inside their car, whether behind the wheel or enjoying the ride as a passenger. The car is equipped with the latest advanced cabin technology from its power-latching doors and 16-way electrically powered front seats (that are also air-cooled and heated) with new electro-mechanical lumbar control, to its four-zone climate control, LED mood lighting and advanced infotainment system.
Whether specified as a four-seat model with a centre console between two electrically powered rear seats or the five-seat cabin with full-width rear seat, passengers will experience an environment that simply cannot be found in any other car. The four-seat option cradles its rear occupants in large, sculpted seats that are electrically adjustable for optimum comfort. These seats are divided by a centre console which is trimmed in premium leather hide and wood veneer and contains the seat and climate control systems as well as a beautifully designed ashtray alongside a cupholder and storage space. Passengers in the rear can also operate the chair of the front-seat passenger, thereby ensuring maximum legroom and comfort should the front be unoccupied.
Exterior features and technology
The Continental Flying Spur combines the finest Bentley traditions and craftsmanship with highly advanced automotive technology. Wherever modern solutions have been introduced on the car, however, these are never to the detriment of driving enjoyment or passenger comfort. At Bentley we don’t believe in overloading our cars, or our customers, with technology that they don’t need or may never use. On the Continental Flying Spur every feature content or safety system must make a case for itself before being added. The result is a car that contains a host of practical and desirable features that complement rather than overshadow the unique character of the Continental Flying Spur. What’s more, the full features list is almost entirely standard, meaning customers won’t be forced to trawl through an exhausting options list at additional cost. Whether you opt for the four or five-seat version, the Continental Flying Spur’s full range of technology and feature content will be available to all.
Price this car:
MSRP: $169,990 – $169,990
Invoice: $158,091 – $158,091
Source: Bentley Press Release