Is there a better way to usher in the New Year than with a test drive of one the most luxurious cars on the road? No, I didn’t think so either and that’s exactly why I was so looking forward to taking the new Bentley Flying Spur W12 for a spin.
Picking the car up on a mild winter’s day from outside the Al Husn Hotel at Shangri La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, it shimmered in the early morning sunlight and just looking at the Flying Spur, I couldn’t help but feel a tingle of excitement. This is a brand with some serious pedigree.
The sharply defined body and broad grille that is synonymous with the brand cut a sophisticated silhouette that wordlessly spoke of refinement and elegance.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the cream-coloured bodywork my model sported, but with more than 100 exterior colours and four paint finishes available, I really don’t think that would be a sticking point. In fact, customisation is one thing Bentley prides itself on; from the choice of 17 hides for seats right down to the kind of cross-stitching used, the ball is well and truly in your court as you pick and choose options to create a completely unique ride.
Inside, the craftsmanship was exquisite, with lavish use of wood throughout and hand-upholstered leather seats. For me, though, it was the little touches that stood out the most, such as an analogue Breitling clock positioned just above the touchscreen infotainment system and the chrome organ stop air-vent controls.
My rear passengers were afforded just about every comfort possible in a car, including generous amounts of legroom and a touchscreen remote control that they could use to operate the front infotainment system and control climate settings, seat heating and ventilation. If you’re notorious for back-seat driving, this is very much the car for you.
Bentley say that the cabin of the Flying Spur is whisper-quiet and it turns out that this is no mere PR jargon. When I pressed the button to start the engine, I actually had to open the window slightly, just to check the motor was running. Satisfied that everything was in order, I pulled off and headed towards Muttrah.
If the engine is all but noiseless, the Naim for Bentley Premium Audio System was the polar opposite. While blasting I Really Like You by Carly Rae Jepsen through the system’s 11 speakers and dual subwoofers may not have entirely fit in with the cool image of the car, the crispness and clarity of the audio was certainly impressive.
The drive was just about one of the smoothest I’ve experienced, tackling Muscat’s roads and the many speed bumps with ease, while the power came easily at the slightest press of the accelerator. At one point, I found myself with a stretch of open road and a lorry to overtake, so I took the opportunity to drop the Flying Spur down into Sport mode to see what the car was capable of. Thinking of the result still gives me goosebumps.
If the Flying Spur is the very model of refined luxury, Sport mode is its racy alter ego. Dr Jekyll had been banished and Mr Hyde was firmly in control; the beast was unleashed. The previously silent six-litre W12 engine thundered to life with a throaty roar, utilising every one of the 616 horses constrained beneath the bonnet to throw me back in my seat as the truck quickly dissolved to a dot in my rearview mirror.
Entering bends at speed didn’t prove to be a problem either, with the Flying Spur gripping the road like glue.
Needless to say, driving along the Corniche my ride drew envious glances from tourists checking out the souq and locals going about their daily business and I must admit that I was loving the attention. This car is a definite head-turner.
But perhaps the best thing about the new Bentley Flying Spur is that it doesn’t have to scream and shout about how good it is. Far from an ostentatious sports car, this is the definition of refined luxury and a car that has power, but knows exactly when and where to use it.
Bentley Flying Spur W12