Reader test: Bentley Flying Spur
Peter Little in Doha, Qatar
Before anybody starts commenting on specs and other things “technical” I think you need to take a DEEP breath, exhale, light up a cigar and pour yourself a stiff G ‘n T. Find that favourite armchair and relax. Close your eyes after you swig that long mouthful down and start dreaming!
But this was not a dream for me. I had the opportunity to take a 2011 Bentley Arabian Continental Flying Spur for a spin. It belongs to a colleague of mine here in Qatar.
Where do I begin? I will try to share this experience with you as best I can. The car – no, this is NOT a car – mere mortals such as I have a limited vocabulary when it comes to a Bentley. Hang on, this is no ordinary Bentley, either. This is an Arabian Continental Flying Spur Bentley!
We are talking $300 000 plus here, built to exacting personal desires. This one is white with blood red upholstery. The carbon fibre trim is about the only thing that I would say was not to my liking. I would have preferred to have been surrounded by hand polished walnut, but then it was not my car!
WHERE TO START?
Slide in behind the wheel and WOW!!! Suddenly your world changes as the seat just “folds” around you as you try to adjust your backside. The seat is surprisingly firm yet super comfortable. We won’t even talk about what you need to go through to find that perfect driving position. I could talk about that for a few hours I am sure. Let’s rather talk about driving this beast – no sorry, it is a princess!
I still don’t remember how I started her. I think it just happened? Engaged the shift selector – yes it actually has one – not like one of those pseudo-luxury BMWs that one gets. Selected “D” and nothing happened. No jerk. Not sound. No nothing! You stand dead still.
Was the engine running? Oh yes, the tacho showed 1000rpm. Pushed the happy pedal and she glided away. I purposely switched the 1000+W sound system off as I wanted to hear that motor purr. Disappointment. You hear nothing!
Push harder. Still no noise – just the gentle feeling of being pushed a little harder into that voluptuous red seat I was sitting on. By now I was travelling at about 100km/h and I still couldn’t hear nor feel anything.
WHISPERER: Despite its imposing twin tailpipes, this Flying Spur is so quiet, Peter says he was even a little disappointed.
The gearbox is silky smooth with absolutely effortless, silent shifting. Yes, I think it did shift as I noticed the tacho needle changing position every now and then.
FINDING A FIELD
The steering wheel is surprisingly small for such a big car. I swear it is smaller than a Mitsubishi Pajero’s wheel. This somehow makes it easier to manoeuvre. She doesn’t feel as large as what she is.
The sheer size and weight disappears once you are behind the wheel. That said, I would hate to park her anywhere but an open field! I can’t imagine having to negotiate shopping centre parking spaces – oh dear, what am I saying? You don’t go to shopping centres when you drive a car like this! You probably own the shopping centre!
Applying the brakes is the reverse of hitting the happy pedal. Everything is effortless, seamless, smooth, quiet – I can go on forever. The worst part of this car is that you have to climb out of it sometime. It gives you the feeling that you want to just keep driving and never have to stop. If I had to drive her from Gauteng to Mountain Goat territory I would simply turn around and head back north again. That is how you feel when you are sitting behind the wheel of the princess.
For those of you who want to know about fuel consumption, kiloWatts, etc - who cares? When you own this lady those questions become absolutely meaningless.