2013 Bentley Continental Flying Spur : First Drive
From the established “old world’ (read that as Europe) to the happening new automotive universe (read that as China) is a journey best exemplified by none other than Bentley (among a few others) daring to having its Mercedes-Benz S-class and Rolls-Royce Ghost challenger put thru its paces by the world automotive media. Brave decision this or not but Adil Jal Darukhanawala suggests it is not just the fastest and most powerful Bentley ever but also to give its rivals a run for substantial money in class.
It was evident from the time we landed in Beijing to see that Bentley now is trying to not just cater to traditional thick-walleted customers but also to what is an emerging new category among global automotive consumers – the “little emperors.” And most of these li’l emperors come from emerging new markets like China, not because of their physical attributes but because they are the ones calling the shots with their cheque books and also getting what they want.
In an economic climate that swings wildly from despair to disaster, having consumers for cars sporting prices with even higher digits than telephone numbers means that Bentley and others in high places would continue to do well provided they offer newer tackle to these little emperors who talk big while also catering to their tastes with bespoke options.
The new Continental Flying Spur to give it its full name is just the third edition in Bentley history and for sure it’s second in the contemporary period. While the first Flying Spur emerged in 1957 more as an ever sportier manifestation of the S1 Continental coupe, the new Flying Spur is a completely all-new automobile from the ground up and not built as an adjunct to the Continental GT.
I say this because its predecessor was actually built in that manner, the Bentley engineers stretching the Continental GT to deliver a four-door, four-person automobile which went on to define a whole new segment and in the process turned out to be the best selling four-door model ever in Bentley history – 22,000 units were gobbled up by emperors, big and small!
The new Flying Spur is anything but one hewn from the same Continental block but it is surely a very polished bit of craftsmanship and it shows quite clearly on first visual contact. The proportions are evident, the car now appearing much wider and sitting lower as well while the roofline is now higher and more sedan-oriented, sorry make that limousine if not to offend the emperor set. The front end with its very prominent upright chrome grille and 3D arrow-shaped bonnet gives the right impetus to the wide stance of the car.