We said it when driving the Bentley Continental GTC V8 recently that we were expecting the majestic Flying Spur to do the same downsizing switch. Well, thankfully, Bentley has gone and obliged, so that it looks like we might actually know what we're talking about on occasion.
16% greater cruising range
Given that we think the move 'W12 to V8' (someone do us a chess notation on that, will you?) improves both the already-excellent Continental and Bentayga machines, you might expect us to be giddy about the V8 being installed in the utterly magnificent Spur. And so it proves: this model, says Bentley, is aimed more at those captains of industry who want to sit behind the steering wheel of the Flying Spur, rather than in the exceptional second-row seats, and these lucky individuals will enjoy the 4.0-litre biturbo V8 in its usual state of tune of 550hp and 770Nm.
What with the facts that the engine has cylinder deactivation (so it can run as a 'four' on light throttle loads) and the whole Flying Spur V8 vehicle is 100kg lighter than the mighty W12, owners will be looking at an increased cruising range from a single tank. Fuel economy is said to be '16 per cent better' on the V8, which - if our quick maths doesn't let us down - means around 22mpg instead of 19.1mpg.
It's still fast, though, recording a 4.1-second 0-100km/h run and a top speed of 318km/h, while the Flying Spur V8 comes with an impressive roster of standard equipment: Adaptive Air Suspension, Torque Vectoring by Brake, Drive Dynamics Control and Electric Steering. Items such as Bentley Dynamic Ride (active anti-roll bars on a 48-volt system) and Electronic All-Wheel Steering will also be available as options to sharpen the Spur V8's drive even further.
Discreet design differentiation
Looking at the outside, identifying whether you're gazing upon a V8 or W12 Flying Spur will require you picking up on some subtle detail changes on the former. It wears 'V8' badges on its front wings and has quad exhausts jutting out of the rear bumper, for instance, while it gains a classy set of 20-inch, ten-spoke alloys. Inside, all the usual prestigious accoutrements of a Flying Spur are present, with owners able to specify either a four- or five-seat interior layout configuration. Order books are open now and the first customers should get their Flying Spur V8s before 2020 is out.
Dr Matthias Rabe, member of Bentley's Board for Engineering, said: "Based on our research, customer feedback and trends of customer usage, the new Flying Spur V8 has been engineered to deliver driver-focused ability, while offering passengers the refinement, comfort and technology expected from a grand limousine. The Flying Spur range is purposeful yet elegant. It has classic Bentley design, best-in-class execution, authentic materials and attention to detail. The new Flying Spur V8 also includes the latest driver assistance and infotainment systems for enhanced safety, security and relaxation on every journey."