2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid
During the 100 years since bespoke automaker Bentley began, the company built a reputation for luxurious handcrafted cars that also pack a performance punch — a punch that typically came from a powerful 8- or 12-cylinder engine. These vehicles were created to honor the words of the company’s founder, Walter Owen (W.O.) Bentley, who wished to build “a fast car, a good car, the best in class.” In the intervening century this goal has not changed, although the means to achieve it has — the days of large gas-powered engines are numbered. As the company embraces its “Beyond100” strategy, the goal is to have all Bentleys electrified by 2023, the first battery-electric Bentley by 2025, and the entire lineup running electric-only by 2030. The all-new 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid is a critical next step along this path.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFlying Spur Origins
Bentley introduced the latest generation Flying Spur a few years ago, although the name has been around a bit longer. The original Flying Spur dates back to the late 1950s, when the company introduced the S1 Continental Flying Spur. Powered by a 180-horsepower 6-cylinder engine, that Flying Spur featured coachwork by H.J. Mulliner (as well as other coachbuilders) and was designed to cruise all day at 100 mph. The automaker built a total of 432 S1 models at a starting price of $9,814 (the average annual salary in 1957 in America was $5,000). This would be the last 6-cylinder Flying Spur – the V8-powered S2 arrived in 1959 — until the introduction of the current Flying Spur Hybrid.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFamiliar New Look
Hand built in Britain, the latest-generation Flying Spur premiered in 2019 featuring a new aluminum and composite chassis that let engineers move the front axle forward and increased the wheelbase by more than 5 inches. The bold grille gets flanked by LED matrix headlights with cut crystal detailing, and a retractable and restyled Flying B resides above the grille.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePowerful Profile
In profile, signature lines accentuate the car’s haunches — one line begins between the headlights and fades into the rear door; another line runs from the rear door to the taillight. This styling is further enhanced by available 22-inch Mulliner-specification alloy wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear View
At the rear, the taillights of the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid feature a B motif and cut crystal effect. The quad oval exhaust outlets add to the powerful stance while identifying this Flying Spur as a hybrid for those in the know.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceIdentifying the Hybrid
The Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid is big news for the company, even though the car possesses understated design elements that distinguish this version from the non-electrified Flying Spur. Differences include a “Hybrid” badge on the front fender, a covered charging port on the left rear fender, and quad oval tailpipes. The available Blackline Specification replaces the exterior brightware with black elements including an optional illuminated Flying B atop the radiator.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
Powering the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid is a 410-horsepower 2.9-liter twin turbo V6 engine — teamed with an advanced electric motor generating 134 horsepower — to produce a total 536 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. The engine gets teamed with a smooth-shifting ZF 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox sending power to all four wheels.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePerformance
At Bentley engineering efficiency doesn’t mean sacrificing performance — in fact, the new Flying Spur Hybrid sacrifices little in terms of power when compared with its V8-motivated sibling. According to the British carmaker, the hybrid will move to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds —one-tenth of a second less than the Flying Spur V8. The Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid has a top speed of 177 mph — very impressive numbers for a large hybrid luxury sedan that weighs close to 3 tons.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRange and Charging
This new Flying Spur is a plug-in hybrid with a 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery that can be fully charged in as little as two and a half hours with a Level 2 charger. Although Bentley hasn’t released official numbers regarding the electric range for this new hybrid, during our drive we saw 31 miles on the trip computer after a full charge. Fuel economy numbers haven’t been released; during our drive the computer also displayed a hair more than 25 mpg and a range of about 450 miles (with a fully charged battery), making the Flying Spur Hybrid the most fuel-efficient model that Bentley has ever sold.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSuspension and Steering
Like its non-hybrid siblings, the Flying Spur Hybrid features a sophisticated, high-tech suspension with 3-chamber air springs, continuous damping control, a Bentley Dynamic Ride 48-volt active anti-roll bar system, and electronic variable ratio all-wheel steering. The air springs allow a wider range of suspension adjustment; basically a range between limousine-quality ride comfort and high-performance driving dynamics.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDrive Modes
The Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid possesses three selectable driving modes. An EV DRIVE setting — the default mode at startup — keeps the car in electric-only mode whenever possible while the battery has sufficient available charge. HYBRID mode maximizes efficiency and driving range using data from the intelligent navigation system to make the most efficient use of the battery’s energy. HOLD mode employs the internal combustion engine to provide higher performance while charging the battery for future use. The car also has a Sport mode selectable from a different menu, which keeps the gasoline engine running for maximum performance. A big bonus: in Sport mode the batteries get charged, thus providing additional electric-only driving range.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInner Space
As expected of any Bentley, the interior of the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid is finished in the finest materials with practically limitless combinations possible. Veneers can range from Open Pore Dark Burr Walnut to Piano Black to Bright Engine Turned Aluminum (as seen here), with a variety of leather colors and configurations to match. “The interior of the Flying Spur is a striking combination of the very latest integrated technology, beautiful materials and design prowess,” said Brett Boydell, head of interior design for the Flying Spur. “It is progressive but retains a timeless quality that will still be stylish and appealing for decades to come,” noted Boydell.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRotating Display
A standout feature of the Flying Spur line is the Bentley Rotating Display introduced on the Continental GT. At startup the vehicle console opens with a high-tech look including a 12.3-inch HD touchscreen display.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAnalogue View
For those who prefer a more analog view, the display rotates to reveal three classic analog gauges displaying temperature, direction of travel and a stopwatch.

Clean Appearance
Or for a completely clean appearance, the display can be rotated again to a blank panel that seamlessly matches with the fascia that continues around the cabin.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFront Seats
The front seats of the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid feature a twin-flute design with heating and cooling, active bolsters and a top-tilt function that supports the upper back. Not only stylish, the front seats also offer great support while remaining comfortable even after hours behind the wheel. Multiple massage functions are available in support of the luxurious surroundings.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seat
The rear seats of the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid have a straight-flute design and offer 14-way adjustment, heating and cooling as well as five massage modes. Seating can be configured for two or three rear-seat passengers; however, with the three-seat setup the middle seat is a bit narrow and has limited legroom, so it’s best used by small children. The outboard seats are extremely comfortable and possess plenty of legroom and pillowlike head restraints for additional comfort.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceTrunk Space
The trunk (or boot as the Brits call it) of the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid provides plenty of room for luggage and other cargo. However, the batteries stored below the trunk floor consume a bit of space, which means this revolutionary car has slightly less space than the non-hybrid Flying Spur.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
Bentleys have always had a reputation for their quiet, smooth operation — further reinforced when driving this plug-in hybrid. The engine is a bit loud under strong acceleration, but in most driving situations the car has a seamless transition from hybrid to EV. In fact, without gauges the transfer from one power mode to another would be almost imperceptible.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceEV Mode
During our press drive we experienced as much as 31 miles of range displaying on the trip computer of the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid during electric-only operation. Acceleration is more than adequate with EV mode, and with a steady throttle it’s possible to remain in electric power alone, all the way to the max EV speed of 80 mph. This mode does not completely shut out the gas engine; if the load increases beyond the EV threshold, the gas engine provides additional power.

© Bentley MotorsStrong Acceleration
Generally speaking, while driving hybrids we typically attempt to drive more efficiently; however, when required this big Bentley will move quickly. Full throttle from a stoplight leaves most vehicles behind, and passing a slower vehicle on a two-lane road is easy. And even though we miss the throaty roar of the V8 or W12 engine, the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid has no perceptible loss of performance — this big machine still gets moving as a Bentley should.

© Bentley MotorsTouchy Brakes
Perhaps our only issue with the drivability of the Flying Spur Hybrid: the brakes. The car has excellent stopping power thanks to massive front and rear brakes, although the energy regeneration that takes place under braking makes it difficult to modulate the brake pedal when coming to a complete stop. Perhaps with practice this won’t be an issue for new owners.

© Bentley MotorsSurprising Handling
With its stout chassis and all-wheel drive configuration, the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid handles surprisingly well on the winding roads. Steering is precise and the car always has plenty of power available. However, the Flying Spur Hybrid is a large, heavy automobile and eventually physics does win — the Flying Spur is not a sports car, nor is it trying to be.

© Bentley MotorsUltimate Cruiser
The 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid really excels during high-speed cruising — the ride could almost be called sublime. This big Bentley seems as happy at 40 mph as it does at 80 mph. Double-pane windows keep wind noise at bay; as a result, the car has almost no perceptible road noise. Turn up the available high-end Naim 2200-watt 18 speaker sound system, switch on the seat massager and occupants could cruise all day in extreme comfort.

© Bentley MotorsChauffeur Driven
According to Bentley, most Flying Spur owners drive their own cars, although about half will be chauffeur driven at some point. Heading home from our press drive, we got to experience a chauffeur-driven journey as we headed back to LAX for our return home. We have to admit it: As nice as this Bentley is to drive, the rear seat is a wonderful place to spend time. With plenty of legroom, pillow like head restraints and indulgent ambient lighting, the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid could easily make us devotees of a chauffeur-driven life.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePricing
Although final pricing hasn’t been announced, Bentley estimates the base MSRP for the Flying Spur Hybrid will be approximately $210,000. The car has an extensive list of standard equipment, as well as a variety of options and packages. According to Bentley, there are at least 56 billion possible ways to configure a Flying Spur Hybrid, so the odds of seeing two identical models are rather remote.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMulliner Driving Specification
Adding an additional level of exclusivity and style to the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid is the Mulliner Driving Specification. We spent most of the day in a vehicle with this specification. The package adds Lofted Diamond design quilting on the seats, as well as three-dimensional leather door panels, a leather headliner, sports pedals, embroidered Bentley emblems and 22-inch black-painted alloy wheels. This spec adds about $20,000 to the vehicle price.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
With a base MSRP that starts above $200,000, the Flying Spur Hybrid is clearly only within reach of a certain clientele. For those who have the means, this new Bentley hybrid is an excellent choice for those who are seeking the British marque’s level of luxury and performance in the most environmentally friendly Bentley ever. Granted, some will miss the growl of a V8 or W12 engine, although there’s something to be said for arriving in a Bentley that glides to the curb in complete silence.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 9.0
Pros: Efficient and powerful; elegant styling; smooth, quiet ride.
Cons: Extremely expensive; short EV range; brakes can be hard to modulate.
Bottom Line: The 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid reveals that Bentley’s move toward electrification will still preserve the company’s traditions of luxury, performance and exclusivity.

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