She had a point. The Continental Flying Spur is a work of art, from its styling to the generous use of rich materials, so it stands to reason that one would want to be seen in it. But for nearly $190,000, what do you get with the Bentley that you can’t in lesser vehicles? There’s tons of power, but ultimately the Flying Spur’s performance can be matched by cars costing a fraction of the price. The interior, especially the rear seat, is spacious – same goes for countless other rides. Technology is offered aplenty, including a navigation system and Bluetooth connectivity, features common to mainstream Hondas and Acuras. But, it’s a Bentley, and even in Orange County, California, where the house staff drives BMWs, Jags, and Benzes, the Continental Flying Spur stands above the pack, and to some buyers, that’s all that matters.
With a curb weight of 5,456 pounds, the all-wheel-drive 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur needs some serious muscle to move with any authority. To that end, a 48-valve, dual overhead cam, 6.0-liter W12 with twin Borg-Warner turbochargers and a six-speed, manually-interactive automatic transmission are housed behind the scenes to get things rolling. The engine can be started with a twist of the key on the left side of the dash, or by hitting a start button on the center console. A horsepower rating of 552 peaks at 6,100 rpm while 479 lb.-ft. of torque is just a blip above idle at 1,600 rpm. Bentley claims that the Spur will reach 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, and if you find a lengthy stretch of wide-open asphalt you’ll discover why this is the Flying Spur – top speed is 195 mph. Wealthy executives now have no excuse for being late to a meeting.
That kind of performance is outstanding, but it requires more than a stout powertrain to make it happen. Serving to control the ride at all speeds is a four-link front suspension and a multi-link system in the rear; a Torsen center limited-slip differential insures that power is distributed appropriately. A button on the center console allows the driver to select from a range of suspension settings between comfort and sport, while a second button raises or lowers the vehicle as desired. Alloy wheels wrapped in sticky 275/40ZR19 Pirelli PZero Rosso tires marry the Bentley to the road, directed up front by a speed-sensing rack-and-pinion steering assembly. Large vented discs work with an antilock braking system with electronic brake assistance and electronic brake-force distribution systems to bring about a steady halt.
As important as quality underpinnings may be, buyers of the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur are likely more interested in obvious pleasures such as cabin features. Delivered standard with the $171,285 base price (including a $2,595 destination charge and $3,700 gas guzzler tax) is leather coating virtually every surface – on the seats, doors, center console, dash, pillars, steering wheel, and headliner, accented with a forest’s worth of burl walnut trim and alloy accents. Other standard equipment includes a navigation system; a 12-speaker premium sound system with a six-disc CD changer; heated and cooled front buckets seats with memory and a massage feature; front and rear climate controls; a power moonroof; a power tilt and telescopic steering wheel; power closing doors; and a power trunk lid. Among the standard safety items are a traction and stability control system, front and rear side airbags, side-curtain airbags, and electronic parking aids front and rear. Then there are the options – expensive ones. Various alloy wheel designs, measuring either 19 or 20 inches in diameter, run between $1,490 and $4,240. A selection of wood trim kits will set buyers back $1,490 - $3,340; a two-tone leather steering wheel goes for $490; a sunroof with a solar panel comes in at $990; and alloy foot pedals go for $590. That’s just a sampling of the myriad ways Bentley invites buyers to spend plenty of money.
Our test car, a beautiful Midnight Emerald model with an Ochre interior, arrived with a window sticker that read $187,475. In addition to the gas guzzler tax and destination charge, that price included $7,190 for a rear seat package with a full-length center console and massaging heated-and-cooled buckets; $4,240 for chrome 19-inch alloy wheels; the $990 solar sunroof; $840 for a Convenience Package that added a Bluetooth phone system and universal garage door opener; $590 for a shift knob finished in chrome and leather; the $590 foot pedals; $490 for deep-pile floor mats; the $490 two-tone steering wheel; $290 for an alloy gas cap; a $240 spare wheel; and a valet parking key that goes for only $240.
If nothing else, piloting a $187,475 Bentley opens a driver’s eyes to a whole new perspective. Few other sedans cost as much, garner so much attention, and put 552 horsepower and 479 lb.-ft. of torque to all four wheels. However, few other sedans tip the scales at nearly 5,550 pounds. Nonetheless, and despite its heavy feel, the Continental Flying Spur can move out with authority, provided the transmission is shifted into sport mode. That’s where off-the-line acceleration feels immediate, whereas regular drive mode unveils a slight delay when the light turns green. Some may think this delay amounts to turbo lag times two, but realistically it’s an effort to prevent quick, sudden takeoffs for coddled rear-seat passengers. Wherever the knob lands, shifts are virtually seamless, and all of that torque available at only 1,600 rpm propels the Bentley to the front of the line with surprising ease. Compared to lesser cars, humming along in the Spur at high speeds feels like a slow poke in rush-hour traffic.
Though it is quick, the all-wheel-drive Continental Flying Spur leaves room for desire in terms of handling. The ride is coffin quiet and extremely well controlled, even over hastily patched pavement, but push it a bit on a twisty road and the 19-inch tires let out a scream that has no place within the confines of Buckingham Palace. The front end has a tendency to push while the tail stays tucked in. Using a button on the center console, drivers can adjust the suspension to any degree between comfort and sport – doing so makes the ride firmer with no noticeable change in handling. The steering, which has a ponderous feel in a straight line yet takes on an unwelcome heft when turning, is also unaffected by adjusting the suspension settings. Braking is sure and effective, a good thing since stopping for gas stations may be a common occurrence – I averaged less than 10 mpg during my test drive.
Brian Chee’s 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur Driving Impressions:
As hard as it is to imagine, the 2006 Bentley Continently Flying Spur sneaks up on you. Really, it does. When you mash the accelerator, that 552-horsepower, dual turbocharged W12 engine doesn’t so much explode off the line as it launches itself, smoothly, hitting its stride and stretching out, just like a big cat on the hunt for prey. Torque is rated at 479 lb.-ft. at 1,600 rpm, which is good, for it turns a heavy car squarely into an uber-luxury performance car. This is a Bentley for people who like to feel young, which is perhaps a different image than what Bentley used to have. This is no blue hair special, no sir, not with a top speed of 195 mph.
We didn’t reach 195 mph, content only to drive the car the way we felt most would – fast when we had to, but, for the most part, with a spirited coolness befitting the upper class. If there’s any doubt about the price tag, the answer starts with the mechanicals. Sure, that 12-cylinder engine is the same powerplant that can be found in the dearly departed Volkswagen Phaeton, but it’s significantly revised, to the tune of around 100 extra horsepower. On the road, the power is immense, the delivery smooth, and braking is handled by a huge set of brakes that would stop an enraged rhino on the rampage. The six-speed automatic transmission is very capable, though the paddle shifters fail to add to the experience. Come on – paddle shifters on a Bentley Flying Spur is like putting makeup on a thoroughbred – it is what it is, and what it is happens to be is beautiful, bold and proud.
While I didn’t put it through its paces in terms of aggressive handling, on “sport” setting, the way the suspension sets up as you head into a corner indicates plenty of control and grip for such a large car. That’s hardly surprising, given the 20-inch wheels and all-wheel-drive configuration. Inside, the driving experience is tip-top, quiet and smooth as ice. The seats have about a zillion different moving parts, and the feel of the controls is magnificent. Of special note is the shifter, with its etched chrome and inlaid “B.” Few vehicles offer this type of attention to detail, in my book. Then again, few cars cost close to $200,000, so – as the saying goes – you get what you pay for. When it comes to the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, what you pay for – and what you expect – is a powerfully civilized ride, from tip-top to beautiful bottom.
Ron Perry’s 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur Driving Impressions:
There are few things that compare to a drive in a $185,000 car. All I can say is I found the comfort and style of driving a car like the Bentley Continental Flying Spur to live up to the hype. This car transformed me into the successful entrepreneur I’ve always wanted to be…even if only in fantasy.
Entering the Flying Spur, the feeling of luxury washed over me. The rich smell of leather and the look of French stitching and billet aluminum were overwhelming as I sat and tried to take it all in. The dash is a busy one and controls aren’t where I thought they should be, but in a car like this inconveniences are quickly forgiven. Fire up the twin-turbo twelve-cylinder and it quickly settles into a purr. Slide the jewel-like shift lever into Drive and the Bentley smoothly pulls away from rest. The Bentley feels heavy as it accelerates up to speed, but one stomp on the race-inspired accelerator pedal and the big twelve shows its stuff. Initially there is a delay and then the 552 horsepower and 479 lb.-ft. of torque kicked in and rocketed the Spur into the triple digits before I realized it was happening. The smoothness of the power delivery is simply amazing. The big Bentley is equipped with a set of brakes that have no trouble reining the 552 horses back down to a trot and steering that offers excellent feedback and control.
One expects a car like the Flying Spur to be soft and cushy, and over the bumps it is, delivering an incredibly smooth ride. Turn onto a sharp freeway on-ramp and Bentley shows its other side. This car also handles surprisingly well for such a heavy weight. We are not talking track worthy grip and response here, just good for a car of this stature. Few of these will ever be driven in a sporting manner but it’s nice to know the capability exists. Maneuvering around town there is no mistaking the Bentley for a small car. Tight corners must be taken wide so as not to scrape the chrome seven-spoke wheels on a curb, but the steering is light enough to allow you to pilot the Bentley with confidence.
Once the ride was over, the fantasy ended and the reality of driving a Toyota Tacoma swept over me. It’s a shame everyone can’t experience the Bentley mystique on a daily basis, but that exclusivity is what makes the car so special.
Christian Wardlaw’s 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur Driving Impressions:
Flatten the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur’s accelerator pedal, and sheer, ungodly, billowing speed is the result, but the ultra-luxe sedan’s isolation from the road and outside elements dangerously masks actual velocity, making it altogether too easy to cruise at 100 mph without realizing it. Keep your foot out of the gas, and the Bentley sets sail in a leisurely manner, chauffer-style. Punch it and the Flying Spur becomes a rocket, gathering immense force and feeling like it’s never gonna quit. The transmission shifts crisply when necessary, fluidly otherwise, and the Sport mode holds gears longer while also providing quick manual shifts using the beautiful shifter or cheap-looking paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. Approaching a stop, the transmission downshifts through the gears, adding engine braking and making it hard to slow the Flying Spur smoothly. Stoutly outfitted for reducing tall speeds in short distances, the Brembo brakes are calibrated to allow for limo stops, but it takes practice to get the pedal modulation just right because they can feel a bit grabby until you adapt.
At all times, regardless of the suspension’s automatic damping selection, communication from the road is sent to the driver through the leaden, syrupy steering and the solid underpinnings. At speed, the Flying Spur definitely feels more connected on the suspension’s firm setting, and around town the comfort setting is best. The Pirelli PZero Rosso tires grip decently, but the heavy Bentley isn’t a canyon carver, proving far happier on high-speed sweepers. Its steering has an unsettling dead-spot on center and at speed, and when the steamroller front tires get on uneven pavement the wheel can waggle though the car tracks straight and true. Steering effort off-center is too heavy at low speeds, and too light when flying down the highway.
Visibility is not good. The side mirrors are small, and they automatically dim at night, so the already limited view takes on an even darker tint. The large, rectangular rearview mirror is nice, but the rear headrests impede the view out of the already limited backlight. Additionally, the C-pillars are rather thick and the greenhouse is short. Combined with the fact that I was driving someone else’s $185,000 automobile, this visibility issue was nerve-wracking. Good thing the Bentley had park assist proximity sensors front and rear.
It’s not every day you get a chance to drive a machine like this. In Los Angeles, the experience loses some of its gawk factor (I see a Flying Spur or three every week during my normal commute), but the car is ridiculously fast and incredibly comfortable. Still, as good as it is, I didn’t see much beyond the Bentley brand name that would command such a huge premium over a Jaguar XJ Super V8. But then I’m probably missing the point.
Well, if seats wrapped in fine leather that adjust in every imaginable way while massaging your back sound comfortable, it’s time to check out a 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur. Our test car, outfitted with rear bucket seats and a full-length center console for only $7,190 extra, also featured heated and cooled chairs, a front passenger’s seat that could be slid forward by the rear passenger for maximum foot room, reclining seatbacks all around, padded leather everywhere, and when the seats were adjusted to their lowest positions, plenty of headroom. The rear doors are long and allow for easy ingress/egress provided the Spur isn’t positioned in a tight parking space (and, really, how many times is a Bentley owner gonna be stuck with the compact car space at Wal-Mart?). Once seated, fingertips await a quality, solid surface at nearly every turn. Soft leather covers the dash and wheel, which has a power tilt-and-telescope function; aluminum is used for everything from the air vents to the shifter handle and foot pedals; and our Continental Flying Spur had a dark, rich wood finish throughout the interior.
Brian Chee’s Opinion of the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur’s Comfort:
Riding around in the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is like living inside a cow. Okay, not really. It’s just that there’s so much leather all around, starting with the headliner, you feel badly for the cow population of Crewe, England. At least their hides are going to a good cause: the comfort inside the Flying Spur is, truth be told, the top reason you buy the Flying Spur. The seats move a million different ways, offering leg support, shoulder support, lumbar, massage, cooling, and heat. Legroom up front is massive, and our model, which had the captain’s chair seating in back, was comfortable enough to chauffer any top-notch CEO. There are adjustable front center armrests, and they’re well made though ratcheted down pretty tightly, so they could be a bit of a hassle when it comes to making an adjustment. Overall, the Flying Spur is a comfortable car for those who appreciate an active lifestyle, with firm seats, quality materials, and durable construction. If you’re looking for a pillow and comforter interior, move on to another car. Of course, the Flying Spur will also be accommodating, should you desire a massage and a little heated relaxation on the long ride home.
Ron Perry’s Opinion of the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur’s Comfort:
I have never felt so comfortable driving a car. The Bentley Continental Flying Spur surrounds you in comfort from the multi-adjustable seats with both heat and cooling capability to the built-in massage feature. The quietness of cabin and the smoothness of the ride alone can lull you into complete relaxation. The entire interior is covered in hand-stitched supple leather and short of being in your own living room, there aren’t many places you will find as comfortable as the Bentley’s interior. I can’t think of a better car for my daily commute to work. Back seat passengers are well attended to, too. Let’s talk adjustable and reclining back seats, controls that allow you to move the front seat forward for more legroom and, best of all, a massage feature. Dual climate controls and an abundance of vents add to the comfort.
Christian Wardlaw’s Opinion of the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur’s Comfort:
Getting into the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur isn’t as easy as you might expect given the car’s exterior dimensions, at least up front. It’s not uncomfortable to pass through the forward portals, just snug. Once you get settled, myriad front seat adjustments allow a wide range of individual tailoring for optimum comfort, but they’re a little slow to react to inputs. You can even adjust the top of the back rest individually, and the headrests are power adjustable. There’s power lumbar, power extending thigh supports, power massage, and power seatbelt height adjusters. The front chairs are heated and cooled, too. Not surprisingly, once you’ve found the right mix of adjustments, comfort is king in seats wrapped with wonderfully soft, supple leather. The tilt-and-telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel isn’t as plush as you might expect, lacking a bit of padding, and the upper door panel sills are dressed in wood trim that is unfriendly to elbows.
Climbing into the back seat is much easier thanks to giant doors and plenty of leg room. The individual rear bucket seats in our test car were divided by an optional wood-trimmed console with seat adjustment controls, individual climate controls, and a center armrest. Like those in front, the seats were heated and cooled, and equipped with power lumbar support, power headrests, power thigh supports, power recline, and power massage features. Titans of industry can motorize the right front passenger’s seat forward for added leg space, and each rear chair gets an overhead map light. Obviously, the rear seats are very comfortable, with lots of leg room and a power rear sunshade. Foot room is a bit tight if you try to tuck them in under the front seats, but with all this space to spread out in, who needs to do that?
Ambient noise is almost non-existent. The Bentley’s cabin is silent, effectively removed from the din of the world outside. A couple of little creaks and rattles made themselves known on rough pavement, and there’s a pleasing rumble of exhaust that filters in when you get on it hard, but otherwise the Flying Spur is an isolation chamber on wheels.
Bentley is owned by Volkswagen, a company that has long been known for its use of class-leading, quality materials in cars like the Jetta and Passat. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Continental Flying Spur, costing considerably more than either of those affordable vehicles, is home to top-notch goods. Durable leather is on nearly every surface – seats, doors, dash, center console, lower seat frames, upper and lower pillars, headliner, glove box, steering wheel, lower kick panels, and rocker panels. Strong stitching keeps most of it tightly together, though I did notice some excess glue holding a strip inside of the rear passenger door pocket. Alloy is used throughout the cabin, from the Bentley-embossed door sill plates to the swivel air vents, and deep-pile floor mats (a $490 option) provide a soft cushion for tired feet. The same material is used to line the power trunk lid. Lower grade plastics were used for the steering wheel controls and the lower grille inserts.
Aside from the glue on the rear door, a visual inspection unveiled only a few minor build issues. Gaps around the wood appliqué on the instrument panel were off by a hair, as were the gaps around the dash-top speaker, and there was a slight variance of panel fit at the joint between the A-pillar and hood from side to side.
Brian Chee’s Opinion of the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur’s Quality:
You can actually hear the sunroof sealing when you close it. That’s quality, as is the rest of the interior, with its careful craftsmanship. Truly, the interior is a testament to attention to detail, save for one potential issue: the lack of side rear sunscreens. It should be assumed that the Flying Spur comes equipped with rear side sunscreens, especially when you consider how many Flying Spur owners sit in the back seat Monday – Friday. Where the Flying Spur also comes up short in terms of quality is when it comes to exterior materials. The grille, for example, while a signature element, is, uh…plastic, as are other parts of the body. True, the front and rear extrusions of any car must be plastic in order to meet safety standards, but still, one wonders if Bentley could have put a little more metal on the outside of this marvelous machine.
Ron Perry’s Opinion of the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur’s Quality:
Surprisingly, the quality of the Bentley didn’t live up to my expectations. Granted this is a low-volume car, but when paying $185,000 for a set of wheels, everything should be perfect. Overall the interior quality was excellent with the exception of the fitment of the glove box cover. The aluminum accents, from the air vent bezels and jeweled shifter knob to the plates behind the assist handles, are exquisite. Even the window switches feel sturdy and solid, and work with a smoothness one expects of a car in this class.
Outside, I was shocked as I opened the bonnet to find not only release button that looked and felt like plastic but also plastic grille and vent inserts. With cars like Jaguar and even Cadillac offering real metal grilles, Bentley needs to step it up and replace the cheap GM plastic with materials befitting the Bentley marque.
Christian Wardlaw’s Opinion of the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur’s Quality:
Almost every single surface inside the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is coated with gorgeous leather or glossy wood accented with a mix of polished aluminum and bright chrome. Some of the switchgear looks and feels low rent in comparison…like Jaguar-quality bits. Some of the plastic buttons are a bit glossy, a bit unsure in their moorings, a bit cheap in their action. Also, the lined rear storage bin sounded hollow and cheap when rapped, and the cupholder inserts are strictly GM-grade hardware. But seriously, this is the nicest damn car I’ve ever spent time in.
As for assembly quality, when you’re spending this kind of coin, attention to detail is a demand rather than a mere expectation. Inside our particular test sample, I uncovered flushness of fit issues with the navigation screen bezel and the surrounding wood trim as well as the leading joint for the veneers on the rear center console; inconsistent gap tolerances around the top center dash speaker grille and the glove box door; and frayed edges on the trim around the driver’s window. Despite these nits, all of which were minor and barely worth mentioning on a car costing less, everything inside our Bentley was solidly affixed, and given the numerous opportunities for sloppy assembly, this car is extremely well assembled by the crew at Crewe.
Likewise the exterior, where I found inconsistent fits between the hood and front fascia around the thick plastic grille. Minor fascia fit issues also existed at the front wheel wells, and I found barely perceptible variances in the door gaps at the B-pillars and with the rubber seals for the doors. Finally, our Bentley Continental Flying Spur’s deck lid was tweaked a bit off center. Otherwise, the exterior exhibited tight and uniform build, but thanks to a minimum of shut lines, the BCFS has few spots where error can occur.
Without scouring my brain for obscure competition, I’d say the Bentley Continental Flying Spur is the most beautiful modern sedan I’ve ever seen. The body’s lines give the car elegant distinction without being garish or overly conspicuous, while the quad headlight setup, the sloping hood, and the short front overhang suggest more of a sporting nature than something like a Rolls-Royce Phantom. The massive chrome wheels help in this regard, as well. The tail end is comparatively subdued, though it is accented by wide chrome exhaust tips and a center-mounted Bentley badge.
Interior design is equally impressive, though better plastics should be used for the steering wheel controls and a few controls have odd placement. The electronic stability control button is on the steering wheel, making it easy to tap when hands are shuffling around the wheel on a twisty road, and the start/stop buttons are on the center console, despite the key ignition placement on the left dash.
Brian Chee’s Opinion of the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur’s Design:
Think suave. Think superior. And ask yourself: if I had the kind of money that buys a Bentley Flying Spur, would I want to show it off? If your answer is yes, there are Ferraris that may be more to your taste. If, on the other hand, you have no need to flaunt what you’ve got – but want to announce, quietly, that you have arrived – the Bentley Continental Flying Spur is the perfect car. From the masterful grille to it’s quietly smoldering sheetmetal, the Flying Spur is among those cars that come close to art. Inside is even better, laughably, with exquisite, hand-stitched leather and quality materials everywhere. The two-tone leather is especially notable for its premium quality. Other highlights include the shifter and the steering wheel. The shifter is a meaty unit with etched chrome and an inlaid “B.” The steering wheel, well, according to Bentley, the steering wheel takes five hours of handiwork before it’s complete.
If there’s a disappointing element to the Flying Spur it’s the navigation system, which was state-of-the-art for 2001, perhaps. For this type of car, there ought to be a little man dressed in a blue blazer and neck kerchief, a hologram for example, standing on the dash and telling you what to do. And of course, he’d have an English accent, saying things like My word…you missed that turn. Please take the next exit, or I’m afraid that you’ll be late for tea, old chap… Instead, you get the same directions shouted back at you, time and time again. And with every wrong move, the system calibrates how to get you back to that original route. From its usability to graphics, the navigation system in the Flying Spur was really quite ordinary, and, on a $185,000 car, ordinary just doesn’t get it done.
‘Nuff said. Ultimately, when you think of design and the Bentley Flying Spur, think not of jaw-dropping sheetmetal or over-the-top interior materials. Think, instead, of the Mona Lisa. Simple, quiet, but still a sexy masterpiece.
Ron Perry’s Opinion of the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur’s Design:
I really like the understated design of the Continental Flying Spur. The Bentley doesn’t draw the attention of, say, a Rolls-Royce Phantom. Rather, the Bentley’s appeal is that it only draws stares and nods of appreciation from those in the know, which makes driving the Flying Spur a discreet delight. Whether from the front or rear, the Flying Spur oozes status. The raked back headlights and protruding grille give the Bentley its instantly recognizable looks. At the rear, simple taillights, a short deck and two oval exhaust outlets make up the rear treatments. A beautiful bodyline that wraps around the front wheel and runs down the side integrating into the rear taillight element cements the Bentley’s forward-leaning stance. It would be hard, in my book, to beat the looks of the Bentley Continental Flying Spur. I will take mine in black.
Christian Wardlaw’s Opinion of the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur’s Design:
Honestly, I prefer the more ostentatious Bentley Arnage sedan to the clean-shaven 2006 Continental Flying Spur. The Conti is certainly stately, but a bit bland in comparison to its bejeweled older brother. The headlights need more character – they have all the life of a shark’s dead, unfeeling eyes. The taillights lack panache, too. On positive notes, the car is perfectly proportioned, balanced, and doesn’t look its size. The paint is lustrous. The wheels are imbued with just the right amount of detail and contouring to add character – as they should be for an extra four grand. The Flying Spur is a handsome automobile that needs just a little bit more detailing to truly distance it from more pedestrian luxury sedans.
Inside, the Flying Spur is gorgeous. A dual-cowl dash design and flow-through center console lend this big sedan a feeling of intimacy and decadence. Unlike the exterior, the cabin is imbued with plenty of bling factor thanks to the glossy wood, chrome accents, polished metal trim, and two-tone décor in rich caramel and creamy tan leather. The Brietling analog clock and lovely aluminum- and leather-trimmed gear selector are a little bit over the top, which is exactly as it should be in a car like this.
If you haul a bunch of stuff with you – Blackberry, iPod, sunglasses case, packs of licorice-flavored Altoids – know that the Bentley Continental Flying Spur provides few spots to stow this stuff while underway. The cupholders are clear afterthoughts, too, sized to hold one larger drink in front and one in the rear, or a total of four smaller cans of Red Bull or Starbucks Double Shot.
The Bentley’s control layout isn’t ideal, either. Though you can operate the basic functions of the stereo and four-zone climate control without using the numb center screen, it takes awhile to acclimate. The center screen is not touch-sensitive, hence the “numb” descriptor, which is also a mystery since this isn’t proprietary technology protected by Japanese or American patents. The CD changer is located in the glove box, almost unheard of in this day and age. The power mirror control is on the center console, and if you adjust the passenger’s side mirror first you’re wasting your time since it’s keyed to move with the driver’s mirror – so wait until the driver’s mirror is moved into position.
Funky ergonomics aside, the rest of the Flying Spur is surprisingly well thought out. I particularly liked the push/pull vent operation and the overhead twist knob for the sunroof. Navigation programming is easy enough, though it’s a guess as to how to get started and entering an address requires lots of knob twisting and pushing to select the city, street, and house number. As with other controls inside the Bentley, the system operates slowly, like a choked PC. Also, the map isn’t clearly marked with street names – zoom in all the way using the twist knob, and street names are conspicuous by their absence.
As a Maine native, practicality and value are primary motivators in all of my buying decisions. If an item is expensive, that’s fine – as long as the price brings with it quality and not just a name. The 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur passes muster in regards to the quality test, and with its all-wheel-drive, might even prove to be practical in a Northeastern blizzard. But the value part of the issue is a tougher sell. That’s because the Jaguar XJ Portfolio comes to mind, a ride that features standard lamb’s wool floor mats (a $740 option on the Spur), a rear entertainment system with dual screens (not available on the Spur), rear sound controls, fold-out trays on the front seatbacks, and a supercharged V8 engine that, while offering 152 fewer horses, is responsible for moving a car that weighs 1,500 pounds less than the Bentley. And the Jag comes in fully equipped at about $115,000, or $50,000 less than a base Continental Flying Spur. Which begs the question – is a Bentley badge worth $50,000? Not in this reviewer’s eyes.
Brian Chee’s Advice about the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur:
Though it has an exquisite powertrain, don’t buy the Bentley Continental Flying Spur if you’re looking for shock-and-awe performance. This car is way too smooth, refined and bulletproof, despite its weight and some silly paddle shifters. Also, if you’re into making a statement, you should pass on the Flying Spur. Oh yes, people will notice you, for it is a Bentley after all, but there will be no head snapping or wolf whistles when you drive on by or cruise up to your favorite hot spot. Nope. The Flying Spur is for grown-up rich people who buy one of these $185,000 vehicles because they want to sit inside an exquisitely appointed and carefully handcrafted vehicle, one that offers up serious power, serious comfort and serious excellence.
Ron Perry’s Advice about the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur:
There really is no advice to give here. Those looking to purchase a Bentley Continental Flying Spur have already made up their minds to do so. It is not the kind of car you research and decide to buy based on the opinions of others. You buy a car like this because you want the exclusivity, status and comfort a Bentley can provide. If I had the means to purchase the Flying Spur, the first thing I would do is find a metal craftsman to fabricate a new grille and vent inserts. Realistically, I can’t rationalize the Bentley because you can get a fully loaded Mercedes-Benz S-Class with all of the safety, technology, comfort, and performance for a lot less cash. But then again, it’s not a Bentley.
Christian Wardlaw’s Advice about the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur:
The 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur sells because it is a 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur. This is a magnificent automobile, but it’s not $85,000 magnificent-er than an Audi A8 6.0, a BMW 760iL, a Jaguar XJ Super V8, a Maserati Quattroporte, or a Mercedes-Benz S600. Buying one is an emotional, irrational decision akin to marrying a stripper – you do it because you can, and because you think it will look good on you. Therefore, my advice doesn’t mean squat. Personally, I can’t imagine spending the extra cash for this car over any of its less expensive competitors, and if you’re buying a Bentley for its exclusivity, think about where you live. I was not kidding about seeing a handful of Flying Spurs every week just commuting between Irvine and Long Beach in Southern California. Where I live, the exciting Maserati draws more attention. Where I live, someone looking for anonymity drives a dime-a-dozen BMW or Mercedes, painted black or silver. Where I live, people skip the seductive Jaguar because it looks too much like the old one. That leaves the gorgeous, capable, wonderful Audi A8 as my pick of this purebred litter.
Price of Test Vehicle: $187,475 (including a $2,595 destination charge and a $3,700 gas guzzler tax)
Engine Size and Type: Twin turbocharged 6.0-liter W12
Engine Horsepower: 552 at 6,100 rpm
Engine Torque: 479 lb.-ft. at 1,600 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Curb weight, lbs.: 5,456
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 11/18 mpg
Observed Fuel Economy: 11 mpg
Length: 208.9 inches
Width: 75.4 inches
Wheelbase: 120.7 inches
Height: 58.2 inches
Leg room (front/rear): 41.5/38.6 inches
Head room (front/rear): 36.8/37.8 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: Four
Max. Cargo Volume: 16.7 cubic feet
Competitors: Audi A8 L W12, BMW 760Li, Cadillac STS-V, Jaguar XJ Super V8 Portfolio, Maserati Quattroporte, Maybach 57, Mercedes-Benz S600, Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, Rolls-Royce Phantom, Volkswagen Phaeton W12
Photos by Ron Perry