Bentley’s leap to electrification is already a reality and that is why today we are going to get to know its new standard in terms of electric propulsion in depth. Today we tested the Bentley Flying Spur Hybrida luxury saloon that for the first time in its history it makes use of a plug-in hybrid engine. Historically linked to huge V8 and W12 engines, Today we are going to discover if the electric motor is up to what a luxury car demands and why it will change your way of understanding this type of car forever.
If we look back, Bentley bases its history on the use of high displacement engines, 8 and 12 cylinder mechanics that in recent decades have become a symbol of power, distinction and exclusivity.. But the future of the industry speaks of zero emissions and that is why Bentley is already working on a range where all its cars are fully electric, covering the first stretch of this road through plug-in hybrid mechanics thanks to its ability to combine the best of two worlds.
What if true luxury is in silence, comfort and isolation?
The heart of the Flying Spur Hybrid is made up of a 3.0 V6 Twin-Turbo gasoline engine with 416 hp and 550 Nm, an electric motor with 136 hp and 400 Nm and a lithium-ion battery with 14.1 kWh of useful capacity. The sum of all these ingredients results in a combined maximum power of 544 hp and a maximum torque of 750 Nm, allowing to travel up to 40 km in fully electric mode and even obtain the ZERO emissions label with all that this implies with a view to the implementation of the LEZs in 2023.
Beyond this new engine, the Flying Spur remains true to its recipe, making use of an 8-speed automatic transmission, an efficient all-wheel drive system with variable torque distribution between trains, and outstanding air suspension. In this way, having the Hybrid label does not mean giving up high performancerather the opposite, because This Flying Spur is capable of doing 0-100 km/h in 4.3 seconds and reaches a maximum speed of 285 km/h.
But this is the theory, so the time has come to talk about the practice. Taking into account that The Flying Spur is today one of the best luxury sedans in terms of driving dynamics and behaviorThe first surprise that we find in this plug-in hybrid motor is that there are no surprises, not even the increase in weight at the expense of the batteries takes its toll (2,500 kg).
The rolling of Bentley’s luxury saloon continues to be impeccable, offering more than enough thrust and undertaking any maneuver with the greatest of smoothness. With or without battery, The hybrid system manages the delivery of electric power so that the electric motor is always the protagonist in the first meters, which I consider a complete success due to the forcefulness and immediacy that this implies in a car of this size and weight. In fact, the appearance of the electric motor even brings a plus of agility to the Flying Spurwhich allow this ship to be governed more easily in urban environments and sharp turns.
Efficiency is another of the sought-after consequences of this new engine, and the truth is that we managed to obtain lower consumption than those registered with the V8 or W12 versions in previous tests and on the same route.
The Flying Spur Hybrid that we have tested, can also be configured in S version to add a plus of sportiness, or Mulliner to go up another step in luxury and exclusivity
Without energy in the batteries it is possible to move around 10 l/100 km without practicing any type of efficient driving, while With the batteries fully charged we were able to achieve autonomy in electric mode of up to 32 kilometers and reduce the consumption figures to 7.5-8 l/100 km. The management of the scheme in terms of how to use the electric drive is correct in the vast majority of cases, helping the gasoline engine to gain more acceleration, but also to relieve it of less efficient workloads.
And we come to what I consider to be the biggest advantage in this hybrid scheme, which is none other than the smoothness, silence and lack of vibrations that this configuration provides. If the V8, and even more so the W12, are characterized by a silky operation, with the electric motor being able to work at speeds of up to 130 km/h, we find an exceptional displacement where nothing manages to disturb the occupants of this limousine. With the advent of this hybrid engine, the feeling of isolation and disconnection from the outside is clearly the best offered in the rangeDemonstrating that the potential of the electric motor in this type of luxury car is very high. Although the comfort offered by the Flying Spur was already outstanding, the absolute silence achieved by this version allows you to enjoy this quality even more.
Although it is not easy to give up the status and exclusivity that a twelve-cylinder brings, the smoothness and forcefulness of the electric motor are impossible to match.
Curiously, the fact of losing cylinders could be understood a priori as a drawback in this Bentley, but given the focus of the Flying Spur as a luxury saloon, The plug-in hybrid engine seems to me to be the best choice in the range today, even more so if our goal is to always travel in the rear seats. Unless we look for the most performance and exclusive side that this car can offer, which is where the S or Speed variants make sense, we can only recognize that the electric motor is here to stay, because is unbeatable when it comes to bringing to life that total driving experience that is sought in every luxury carthe one that stands out greatly in softness, comfort and insulation.