Luxury Car of the Year 2020: Bentley Flying Spur

The Bentley Flying Spur is the 2020 Auto Express Luxury Car of the Year, with the BMW 7 Series and Rolls-Royce Ghost commended

Few cars can match the luxury that Bentley’s latest sumptuous saloon, the Flying Spur, offers. Now in its third generation, this car moved to an all-new platform, called MSB, that was engineered with significant input from Porsche.

It’s a given that a luxury car needs to ride sublimely. Some cars in this class actually don’t, but the Bentley is supreme, offering the most cosseting comfort and cocooning you from the outside world.

Refinement is so good and you hear so little that the distant rumble of the twin-turbo 6.0-litre W12 engine is the underlying soundtrack – unless you’ve got the brilliant (optional) Naim audio sound system cranked up. This provides concert-level clarity and presence inside – the kind of feature you want from a high-end machine such as this. It’s matched by a revolving display that features some lovely analogue dials or a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s one of the best in the business.

With Bentley’s Mulliner personalisation programme pretty much limitless in its potential, you can truly tailor your car’s spec to your tastes. But no matter how you option your Flying Spur, the materials and quality inside are simply superb. Soft hides and rich wood veneers or cool turned metal dominate the cabin and create a real air of expense and luxury.

There’s a massive level of space inside if this will be a car to chauffeur you around. But of course a Bentley is still a sporting car to some degree, so with that Porsche-developed chassis and the 626bhp W12 engine, the Flying Spur handles surprisingly well for such a large machine. You can toggle to the ‘Bentley’ setting that the firm’s engineers deem the best combination of attributes for the powertrain, suspension and steering, but there’s Sport if you want to go a step further still.

The 0-62mph sprint takes 3.7 seconds, so the Flying Spur is quick. But with 900Nm of torque, it’s effortless and easy mid-range punch that really defines its luxurious performance angle.

At £171,900 it’s far from cheap, but compared with British rival Rolls-Royce’s new entry-level luxury saloon, the £249,600 Ghost, the Bentley even looks like great value.

Our choice

Bentley Flying Spur W12 (£171,900)

While there’s just one engine option in the Flying Spur – the W12 –  it suits the car beautifully. It’s subdued when you want, but emits a muscular yet muted growl when you use its performance. Combined with the luxury ride comfort, superb tech and masses of space and opulence, all that’s left to decide is how you want to spec your Flying Spur. Be warned, the price can rise steeply from here, though.

Commended

BMW 7 Series

With the same great plug-in powertrain as the X5, plus a line-up of diesels that deliver excellent refinement and performance, the 7 Series is slightly more affordable than the Bentley. It’s certainly not as opulent, but it’s comfortable, quiet and offers cutting-edge infotainment.

Rolls-Royce Ghost

Despite its high price, the Ghost still receives a worthy commendation. The ride, attention to detail and image are second to none, with lots of advanced tech that helps it deliver possibly even more comfort than the Bentley. But at around £80,000 dearer, it can’t match the Flying Spur’s talent for the money.

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