Test Drive: 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid
The writing is no longer just penciled on the wall—it’s chiseled in granite: Our automotive future is electric. Bentley, a brand synonymous with big, thirsty engines, has committed to a fully electric line by 2030. That’s a scant eight years to make battery power not just an option but the only one. The 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid is the brand’s second step on the road to electrification—and while it’s not a radical leap forward, it does represent progress toward realizing the goal.
If you stuck the V8 version and the new hybrid Flying Spur next to one another, you’d be forgiven if you couldn’t spot the differences. A little bit of badging and a rear door on the driver’s side to hide the charging port would be your only clues.
On paper they’re also quite similar, both with eight-speed, dual-clutch, all-wheel drive. The hybrid’s 2.9-liter, twin-turbo V-6 engine coupled with a 100-kilowatt electric motor yields 536 hp, 553 lb-ft of torque and gets to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. That’s strikingly close to the V-8 model’s 542 hp, 568 lb-ft of torque and 4.0 second 0 to 60 mph time.
In electric-only mode, the battery range is only around 40 km (25 miles). While that’s not much, it’s generally enough power for errands around town and shorter commutes. A full recharge takes 2.5 hours on a Level 2 charger. To boot, the hybrid system also boosts the Flying Spur’s total range to about 450 miles according to Bentley—or about 50 more miles than the gas-only version.
Ready to Go
Want to make a 200-mile drive seem short? Do it in a Flying Spur. We spent most of the day driving from L.A. to Santa Barbara and back again—testing its wherewithal over city streets, highways, and canyon roads.
The verdict: This is a dreamy luxury cruiser, game for pretty much any route you’d care to take.
Every current model Bentley is an eye-catcher and the Flying Spur in any shade is simply one of the most stylish sedans around. Caveat: The electric motor snaps the Bentley off the line at traffic lights fast enough that it could get you the wrong kind of attention from traffic cops.
When you work your way up to highway speed (and that doesn’t take long) the Flying Spur cruises comfortably, sauntering over bumps and potholes, thanks to its advanced air suspension. The cabin is also remarkably quiet. Bentley claims a 50 percent noise reduction compared to the V-8 model at 50 mph.
When the turns get tight, the body roll is noticeable—but the Flying Spur never feels anything but steady, which is quite a feat of engineering given its 5,523 lbs of humpback-like girth.
Drivers can choose between EV mode for all electric driving, Hybrid mode, where the computer takes over, and Hold mode, where the car stores the electric power to be used later. It’s a system that mostly functions quite effortlessly and without much fanfare. But when you really put your foot down, the V-6 shrieks more like a pop star using autotune than a baritone crooner belting out the classic, big-engine notes you might expect from a Bentley. That’s the price we pay for progress and lower emissions.
Bespoke to the 9s
Behind the wheel of a Bentley is a special place to be. Even the most spoiled among us have to marvel at the Flying Spur’s lavish interior, replete with luxurious leather and burnished wood surfaces that are second to none. The attention to detail is paramount and every texture is both pleasing to the eye and touch.
For Bentley owners with a driver (lucky chauffeurs), the reclining back seats are just as plush as the magical ones up front: soft and supple with heat, ventilation, and massage features.
Catering to customers with specific tastes and bank accounts to match, Bentley offers customers a mind-boggling 56 billion different combinations of options to choose from. So if you want, black on black on black, they can do that, though we might skew toward a more colorful configuration.
Where There’s Demand…
According to a company survey, 60 percent of Bentley’s current customers are keen to purchase an electric version. For now they’ll have to wait a bit longer for a fully battery-powered model. But for those who insist on Bentley grandeur but also want to lower their carbon footprint a bit, the Flying Spur Hybrid could make a good place holder.