Bentley, a brand that oozes luxury, class, fine British history and an iconic hundred year racing heritage, are looking to the future, aiming to be fully electric by 2030. We’re testing its first plug-in hybrid, the 2023 Flying Spur.
Spending anything longer than a few moments on the car maker’s website messing with the configuration tool will have your mind veritably spinning with options. Indeed, you can literally build your own one of a kind vehicle.
In the case of our tester though, it came draped in Viridian, a modern metallic version of British Racing Green, paired with a Blackline specification, which removes all the chrome bits and adds sporty blackness all round.
That even includes the illuminated flying B mascot that electronically deploys when you unlock the car. At $589,641 drive away, this example sits on dark grey, painted 21-inch wheels, and oozes a prestigious and immense road presence.
Under the hood is a 2.9-litre V6 twin turbo petrol engine, paired with a 100kW electric motor, providing you with a total of 399kW of power and 750Nm torque. Despite it’s near 5.5m length and 2.5-tonne weight, there’s plenty of get up and go.
The instant torque off the mark is phenomenal, but with the hybrid, you miss out on the sweet V8 engine noise that is synonymous with the Flying Spur. You do get a suite of drive modes though, including Sport, which changes the ride feel and engine note.
There’s also Bentley mode (a mid-range setting) and Comfort. Choosing where the power delivery comes from is a relatively simple function, with either EV Drive, which uses the electric motor for a range of 40km, or hybrid, which uses the best mix of both motors.
The combination works well and it’s a surprisingly efficient experience, with Bentley claiming 3.3-litres/100km. It’s entirely possible if you charge often and maximise EV usage for trips of less than 40km, that you could use even less than that.
Driving the Flying Spur is a memorable experience, it must be said. The seating position is perfect and you don’t feel you’re lugging around a large vehicle. A gaze over the bonnet to the Flying B, even at night when it’s lit up, is a unique and special view.
It is an effortless drive, the ride quality is impressive and this version is an excellent example of the future direction that Bentley are heading. Even with the addition of hybrid technology, the refinement and character that makes this a Bentley, is all still there.
The other upside of the eco-friendly package on offer in the 2023 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid is a near silent ride in ultra-luxury comfort. In the case of our test vehicle, that includes a unique combination of Linen and Cumbrian Green leather.
It’s a pairing that has to be seen in person to truly experience how fine it is. The interior is a legitimate showcase of the finest craftmanship, including the two-tone Walnut over Grand Black trim that’s separated by some nice chrome touches.
The added City and Touring specification included on this example adds top view camera assist, active lane assist, pedestrian warning, active lane assist and night vision, which appears in the middle of the drivers digital gauge display.
We were counting our blessings for the auto-parking feature too as it is not the easiest car to park. Sitting in the centre of the dash is an enormous and clear 12.3-inch infotainment screen, that works in combination with the standard 650W audio system.
True audiophiles would however likely look into the upgraded Bang & Olufsen or Naim options, at a substantial extra cost. That aside, you can pretty much control most of the car’s functions from the touchscreen.
Everything from changing the colour of the interior mood lighting to raising the front end of the car to ensure you don’t scrape any driveways can be tweaked, and of course, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, and work wirelessly.
One of the coolest things about the Bentley though is the triple sided nature to this panel. At the push of a button, you can flip the screen to three chrome and black gauges on a beautiful walnut finish panel, showing outside temperature, a compass and clock.
If you don’t like those, you can flip it again for a blank panel. Everything is made from the highest calibre of materials and the quality feels, smells and looks expensive. The seats are not only heated and vented, but also offer a range of massage functions.
Adding to the sheer luxury is the fact all this functionality is also available in the incredibly spacious second row. Back there, where you’d probably rather be if you get someone else to drive, there’s also two large touchscreens to stream your own content to.
If that’s not for you, there’s always the generously sized panoramic glass roof to gaze out of. You also have the ability to control various features on the mini-detachable tablet in the middle of the second row – it’s a place that we didn’t want to leave.
Rear cargo space is adequate at 351-litres. It was wide enough for golf clubs but any items with a bit of height will struggle to fit. You will also find the plug-in charger, which is simple to use, albeit slightly heavy and extremely long in the boot too.
It does provide the ability to charge the Flying Spur overnight quite quickly, which is the bonus of the hybrid system on offer. Of course, the big Bentley is not cheap and it’s not a car for everyone.
If though, you’re in the market for something ultra-luxurious, unique, and oddly, surprisingly economical, there is no doubt the Flying Spur is a sound option to add to your shortlist. You can build your own on the Bentley Motors website too.
Our test vehicle was supplied by Bentley Motors Australia. To out more about the 2023 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid, contact your local Bentley dealer.