Bentley Motors Continental Flying Spur Saloon review (2003-2011)
Many said Bentley were being foolish to move 'downmarket' with a range of cheaper cars but the success of the Continental GT has underlined what a sensible move it's been for the luxury manufacturer.
Many said Bentley were being foolish to move 'downmarket' with a range of cheaper cars but the success of the Continental GT has underlined what a sensible move it's been for the luxury manufacturer. The sales of this big coupe have been phenomenal, even if its heady price tag still puts it out of the reach of most buyers. What it has done is introduce many new buyers to the marque, the addition of its Continental Flying Spur saloon sister ensuring Bentley's new customers have an exclusive alternative to both expensive high-end saloons and coupes from the more mainstream premium makers. And, more recently, the arrival of the GTC convertible has only added to the model's appeal. To create the Continental range Bentley might have had to plunder parts from parent company Volkswagen, but few will notice such is the high quality of the final products.
Power is provided by a massive 6.0-litre W12 engine, producing 550bhp with enormous character and ease. The six-speed automatic transmission also lays claim to being the best, most responsive such unit in the world and is faultless in operation. Yet it's the way the Bentley drives which really raises eyebrows. Air suspension and four-wheel-drive provide stability and composure which enthusiasts used to only dream of - yet the big coupe doesn't mind hitching up its skirt and charging hard, either. Owners of older Bentleys simply won't believe it. Of course, drive it hard and the economy will be disastrous, while many UK roads are also arguably just too small to push it anywhere near its considerable abilities. But if you're lucky enough to afford such a machine, buying British has never been easier to justify. A real class act.