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Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid Review: Super Luxury With Sensibilities

The saloon plug-in hybrid from Bentley is in its own skin in Singapore.
James Wong
James Wong
29 May 2023
... the hybrid drivetrain definitely propels the Flying Spur in an urgent fashion.
What we like:
Build quality, handcrafted luxury
Good for passengers, good for the driver too
Purposeful looks
What we dislike:
The car doesn't feel as refined as the V8 or W12 variants, except in EV mode

After being one of the first in the world to drive the Flying Spur Hybrid in Los Angeles and witnessing the launch of the car in Singapore last year, we finally got to try the car on local roads to see if it agrees with our conclusion that it is ‘the best Bentley yet for Singapore’.

To recap, this is Bentley’s second-ever plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and will lay the groundwork for eventual full electrification of the range. We found that the car was right at home in LA’s urban sprawl, but once we went out to open roads we yearned for an unbridled V8 or W12. Would the car suit Singapore much better, given we are 5.5 million people sitting tight on a little island?

The short answer is - yes. Our short travel distances flattered the PHEV drivetrain, which recuperated whenever it could and made light work of daily duties. Also, it benefited from trundling along in heavy traffic, which it did with ease and low guilt. I managed an average of 8 km/l with a mix of electric and ICE propulsion, which is commendable and entirely achievable.

Driving in Hold and Hybrid modes most of the time to stretch the charge, I was able to get by without depleting the battery for most part of the day. The former holds charge as much as possible, while the latter utilises the optimum mix of electric power and ICE. Both are probably the best modes to be without having to worry about depleting the battery.

With superior charge always ready, the car felt more sprightly and ready to go. Although neither as effortless nor as smooth as a V8 or W12 for all-out power delivery, the hybrid drivetrain definitely propels the Flying Spur in an urgent fashion.

Of course, there’s also EV mode which relies solely on the battery and gives around 40 km of real world emissions-free driving. This mode lends absolute refinement to the Flying Spur that none of its ICE-powered siblings can ever manage. It is also amazingly comfortable especially for rear seat passengers, who get to enjoy massaging and ventilated reclining chairs operated through a touchscreen that cleverly pops out to be used as a mobile device, while in absolute privacy. I guess there is now the most stress-free way to get to the office for an all-important multi-billion dollar decision.

After making those important business calls, the Flying Spur is ready to delight in other ways. It is sort of two cars in one - a great luxury limo, but also a rather decent sports saloon. It is actually rather dynamic to drive, giving surprising pleasure to the driver despite its opulent luxury and top-shelf refinement. There is an unfussy, sleeves-rolled-up way the car takes to the road, and is always up for a good drive. The way the Bentley balances comfort and dynamism is nothing short of impressive.

However, in the Hybrid, it is important to watch the charge. Once it depletes, the driving experience changes substantially. The need for the car to recharge the battery activates an onboard generator that buzzes more than expected. The car will also feel more sluggish. I guess it is paramount to avoid this situation as far as possible, but this is entirely possible given the different modes at hand.

The bottom line - would I buy the Hybrid, or go for a pure ICE Flying Spur? It really boils down to the priorities of the owner. For a car that’s predominantly enjoyed to be driven in, I’d get the Hybrid. Otherwise, it’s probably the V8 for me.

Photos by New Gen Marketing


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