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New Bentley Flying Spur Speed Edition 12 review

The special Bentley Flying Spur Speed Edition 12 marks the end of the British luxury brand’s famous W12 engine

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

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Verdict

As send-offs go, the Flying Spur Edition 12 is one of the best. It builds on all of the brilliant features of Bentley’s W12-engined saloon with an individual spec that collectors and enthusiasts alike will appreciate. When the luxury brand’s range turns towards plug-in hybrids from 2026 and goes fully electric from 2030, it’s these 12-cylinder models that we’re sure to remember most fondly.

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The news broke earlier this year that Bentley’s now-iconic W12 engine’s days were numbered, with production set to end in April 2024. So to celebrate this incredible piece of engineering, the British brand has released this limited-edition Flying Spur Speed Edition 12.

There are plenty of unique design features to mark out this model, although they are certainly subtle. These include Edition 12 badging, treadplates on the door sills, seat embroidery, a special inlay on the dash that highlights the 12 cylinders’ firing order, plus a numbered engine plaque.

All Edition 12s come with Bentley’s Blackline exterior pack, black 22-inch Speed alloy wheels and contrasting silver brake calipers. Our car’s Opalite paint finish is a new option for this model.

Put down the £231,200 (before options) you’ll need for this car and you’ll also be treated to a scale model of the Speed’s 6.0-litre engine block. It’s cast from the aluminium used in an genuine W12, and Bentley says it serves as a memento of one of the brand’s most significant engines.

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The full-scale, twin-turbo unit pumps out 650bhp and 900Nm of torque. It’s the latter that’s the real key to the performance, because the turbos have little lag and the Flying Spur can summon that maximum force from just 1,500rpm and sustain it all the way up to 5,000rpm.

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The 0-60mph time stands at 3.7 seconds, not that it really matters in a saloon this big and heavy. But what really makes the car so impressive is how effortlessly the Edition 12 gathers speed, moving forward with a swell of acceleration rather than any great histrionics. It’s all very Bentley, as are the saloon’s ride and refinement.

Despite the big wheels, the Flying Spur just glides along. Particularly large potholes can upset the car’s rhythm, but otherwise it’s superbly smooth and controlled – and it balances this with surprising agility for such a huge vehicle. It’s based on the same platform as the Continental GT (and the Porsche Panamera), and while the Flying Spur isn’t quite on the same level as either of those two machines, it handles sweetly, expertly delivering directness, but never losing refinement, as is Bentley’s forte.

Inside, the Edition 12 is exquisite. It’s an expensive package, but as with any Bentley, the craftsmanship is on a different level, even compared with other luxury brands.

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The mix of rich, waxy leather, expensive wood veneer and cool, tactile metal is a delight, but there’s a level of modern tech to back this up. It works well too, with good phone integration and plenty of features. However, if we’re really nit-picking, the digital dash is starting to feel just a touch outdated compared with the best systems.

But in all honesty, this is more down to the cyclical nature of updates. We’re sure we’ll see Bentley advance this with its next generation of cars, starting with the firm’s first full EV in 2025. That will also potentially give Bentley buyers a clearer conscience, because while it might not matter to them from a purely financial point of view, fuel economy of 18.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 340g/km aren’t exactly great.

Whether you’re in the front driving the car yourself, or sitting in the rear being driven, there’s plenty of space – and when it comes to the back seats, lots of further entertainment options to choose from.

All of this is true of the standard Flying Spur in V8 form, as well as in more exclusive W12 Speed trim. But in the Edition 12, Bentley has delivered a worthy celebration of its iconic engine, even though much of the interest here is down to specification changes rather than anything else.

Model:Bentley Flying Spur Speed Edition 12
Price:£231,200
Engine:6.0-litre twin-turbo W12
Power/torque:650bhp/900Nm
Transmission:Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-60mph:3.7 seconds
Top speed:207mph
Economy:18.8mpg
CO2:340g/km
On sale:Now
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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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