Rolls-Royce may be skipping the hybrids and jumping straight into EVs, but ultra-luxury rival Bentley sees things differently. Or, depending on your views on the matter, Bentley knows better. Before the inevitable all-electric sedan from Crewe arrives, those looking for a low-slung, family-sized Bentley that they can drive with the least amount of climate guilt have the car you see here: the 2023 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid.
After the Mulsanne was sent to the scrapyard in the sky back in 2020, the Flying Spur is Bentley's only remaining sedan. In Hybrid form, it uses a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 and a 100-kW electric motor. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that this powertrain is nearly as special as the company's V8 or W12 offerings because it just isn't.
What it is, however, is more efficient and quiet. And for those whose definition of luxury is simply an extremely nice item and not necessarily more cylinders for the sake of more cylinders, the Flying Spur Hybrid is a luxury sedan worthy of envy.
|2023 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid Specs
|Base Price (Canadian-spec as tested)
|$217,525 ($353,320 CAD)
|2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 with 100-kW electric motor | 18.0-kWh battery | 8-speed automatic | all-wheel drive
|12 cubic feet
|EPA Fuel Economy
|19 mpg combined | 46 mpge combined
|An impressive sedan that delivers on the Bentley aura.
That envy starts, of course, with the way it looks. With its long, flowing limousine shape, imposing chrome grille, and subtle dark green paint, the Flying Spur oozes class. It's a majestic looking car and touches like the retractable hood ornament, B-shaped vents on its temples, and B-shaped taillight signatures let everybody else know they're looking at a Bentley without necessarily being too in their faces about it. Speaking of not being too in your face about stuff, this Flying Spur opts to keep its status as a hybrid quiet as well, differentiating itself from its gas siblings with just a couple of "Hybrid" badges sprinkled here and there and a charge port door at the rear that could easily pass for an extra fuel entrance. No blue-haloed badging, funky aero wheels, or elaborate charge ports near the front wheel here.
Climbing inside and shutting the soft-close door behind you, you're greeted by an extremely luxurious space. The materials are top-notch, the touchscreen can spin around to show a trio of analog dials instead (this reverts to a plain wood panel when the car is off), and the seats have a massage function with five different programs at five different strength levels.
This being an ultra-luxury sedan, the swankiness does not suffer in the slightest when you venture into the back seat. Adjustable into a slight-recliner mode, these are supremely comfortable and feature massage and memory as well. There's a little screen in the center console that lets you control everything from climate to music to whether or not the Flying B hood ornament is up or not.
Positioned just behind that ornament is a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 aided by a 100-kW electric motor making 536 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque combined. It gets from zero to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds (just 0.1 seconds slower than the V8) and has a top speed of 177 mph.
In practice, however, silky smooth movements, granite-level composure, and executive limo ride quality are the name of the game and the Bentley Flying Spur does indeed deliver on those fronts. But it isn’t a completely numb barge, either. As observed with the Bentayga SUV and Batur coupe, there’s a surprising amount of chatter coming from the steering wheel. Nothing that actually disrupts of course, but just enough to let the driver know what’s going on.
Put it in Sport mode and reactions tighten while the ride firms up ever so slightly. Its chassis' Porsche Panamera pedigree peeks through, becoming a very competent and fleet-feeling corner carver without ever losing that signature Bentley smoothness and stability. Throw it into a bend much faster than any self-respecting chauffeur would and the Flying Spur picks up the pieces with ease. Outright acceleration is more than adequate with plug-in electric power providing EV-like torque down low.
This being a V6 hybrid, however, also means it isn't the greatest-sounding vehicle out there. It's a trebly, rough noise that does indeed feel like one-half of Bentley's magnificent W12. That is to say, it's only half as aurally interesting.
Highway stability is top-notch because of course it is. The cabin is also unsurprisingly very quiet, but some wind noise can still be heard. A tiny bit of room for improvement there, Bentley. On the other end of the speed spectrum, the Spur's light steering and uncomplicated pedal calibration make it an easy city runabout, but it does feel big in tight parking lots—admittedly, some of that anxiety may stem from how much this thing costs.
Adaptive cruise control works well and feels natural, but there did not appear to be any lane-keep functionality in this particular tester. Even with adaptive cruise off, there's an automatic regen brake function that subtly slows the car down to keep up with traffic without you having to press on the brake manually. Sometimes you can even feel the pedal move slightly beneath your foot. It’s a little disconcerting the first couple of times it happens but you quickly learn to trust it. It works well, is never jerky, and never does anything you shouldn’t have done anyway.
The Flying Spur Hybrid is an impressively enjoyable car to drive, but its appeal goes way beyond that. It's the interior, the comfort, the trinketry, the composure, the aura. The status.
It's little things like chrome seat rails. The backs of the chrome shift paddles are knurled as are the backs of the interior door handles. The stitching looks as if it was done by a human being because, y'know, it probably was. And if the idea of a touchscreen in a Bentley feels uncouth to you, you can spin the Flying Spur's around at the touch of a button to reveal three analog dials: a thermometer, a compass, and a stopwatch.
Speaking of that touchscreen, there are two tech shortcomings that a $200,000 car shouldn't really have. Apple CarPlay, for one, is still wired. Not very cash money. Also, the screen itself simply isn't as sharp-looking as some displays you get in, like, literal Hyundais. Extremely not cash money.
On the topic of cash money, though, there's no scenario in which a car like this represents value because it is also a prime example of diminishing returns. Meaning, it may cost more than three times as much as a Genesis G90 but is it three times as good? Not at all. Like most Bentleys, the Flying Spur is a flex on premise alone. You’re paying for the last 5% of luxury. The chrome seat rails. The very genuine-feeling wood. The jewelry-grade headlights. The right to tell people that you drive a Bentley.
The privilege of pretty consistently being in, bar none, the nicest car within an x-mile radius. And, honestly, it's pretty hard to put a price tag on that.
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