2015 Bentley Flying Spur V8
Last year, the Bentley Flying Spur dropped Continental from its name, but it lost nothing when it came to showcasing British luxury performance motoring at its best. Well, this year it loses something else…4-cylinders from its signature W12 engine. So, let’s see if less turns out to be more.
Yes folks, as much as we hate to admit it, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. That’s where this 2015 Bentley Flying Spur V8 comes in.
For some, 12-cylinders pumping in harmony to produce glorious amounts of power is just more than they can handle or perhaps wish to pay for.
But this is no lightweight V8 we’re talking about here. It’s Audi’s aluminum 4.0-liter twin-turbo unit that, after some unique Bentley tweaks, performs some internal combustion magic of its own, pulling 500-horsepower and 487 lb-ft. of torque. That may be over 100-horsepower less than the W12, but with 100-pounds of weight also removed from the front end, it should translate to a more enjoyable experience at the track.
So we “suited up” in proper Bentley fashion and made haste to our test facility. And unless you’ve recently driven the W12 Flying Spur, you’d be hard pressed to notice a difference in acceleration, as this thing just flat takes off. There’s gobs of power off the line, and rear-biased all-wheel-drive to apply it.
Power continues to build in a very linear fashion, and 60 miles-per-hour arrives in just 4.6-seconds. That’s only a tenth off our time in the W12. The 8-speed automatic transmission provided smooth and fast shifts, and in 12.9-seconds, we were at the end of the ¼-mile with the needle pointing at 111 on the speedo. So, unless you absolutely will settle for nothing but the best or are always in a real hurry, there’s not much need for the 12.
At 5,300-pounds plus, there’s still a lot of weight to hustle through the cones. But this Flying Spur does so with surprising agility, though you want to make sure suspension is at its firmest setting to keep body roll at a minimum. You can find both under and over steer should you go looking, but initiating either requires some very aggressive inputs with the wheel or with the throttle.
Even more amazingly, bringing this 2½-ton dreamliner to a halt from 60 happens in just 107-feet, with smooth and steady stops that belie the frictional ferociousness that is transpiring behind this car’s 21-inch painted alloys.
Though technically no longer part of the Continental family, the Flying Spur sees similar exterior embellishments to last year’s Continental GT Coupe V8. That means it’ll take a keen or perhaps distinguished eye to spot the dark finish to the grilles, red background of the flying B logo, and figure-8 shaped exhaust finishers.
There’s always lots to love when you’re talking about Bentley interiors. Now, we can’t say this Newmark tan motif would be our first choice in color as we prefer to leave the saddle-brown theme to our pickups, but material quality and finish are every bit as exquisite as you would expect.
Amenities include beautiful Eucalyptus wood veneer, picnic trays, Naim for Bentley Premium Audio, refrigerated bottle cooler, massaging seats, full length center console with seating for just two in the back, dual LCD screens, and a remote to control most of the cars functions from the back seat.
If you’re smart enough to send the chauffeur home for the day and take up residence in the front seat, you’ll agree that this may be the best handling close to 3-ton sedan out there. It does indeed feel massive, but highly capable and stable. Just plan ahead a bit for turns as there’s no dartiness to it.
While this basic chassis has been around for quite some time, and we wonder just how much further corporate parent Volkswagen can go with it, does the average luxury buyer really care about any of that? Probably not, and you won’t either. Just relax and enjoy the ride.
Despite the smaller V8 engine, there’s still a gas guzzler tax, as Government Fuel Economy Ratings come in at 14-City, 24-Highway, and 17-Combined. Our average of 18.0 miles-per-gallon of Premium was around 8% better than we achieved in the W12 Flying Spur. That still makes for a very poor Energy Impact Score however, burning through 19.4-barrels of oil per year while expelling 8.5-tons of CO2.
Priced about $20,000 under the W12 at $200,245, it may be the everyman’s Flying Spur, but it’s still not for every man or woman; more for those with the necessary “funds” be they trust, hedge, or otherwise.
Much as in the Continental GT Coupe, the V8 engine in the 2015 Bentley Flying Spur sedan makes for a better overall car. Sure, in the luxury realm there is always an accepted space for prestigious overkill. But as far as we’re concerned, this is a case of less is more.
- Engine: 4.0 liter
- Horsepower: 500
- Torque: 487 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 4.6 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 12.9 seconds @ 111 mph
- EPA: 14 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 19.4 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 8.5 tons/yr
2023 BMW X7
Should Keep The BMW Faithful Coming Back For More
While BMW got serious about their SUV game around the same time as most other luxury brands, it took them until just a few years ago to deliver a 3-row example. This year, that X7 is updated with new style and new tech. So, let’s see if that makes it the ultimate premium 3-row family machine.
When it comes to utility vehicles, bigger seems to be better for a lot of people. So, for BMW, there’s none bigger or better than the X7 3-row utility, which for 2023 gets a comprehensive update after just 4-years on the market. That includes a facelift to bring it more in line with the new 7-series carline, which is to say joins the more vertical, aggressive grille party. Also, the actual headlights have been moved lower in the front fascia, with squinty DRLs above for the first time on a BMW. In back, taillights take on a 3D posture, with a new chrome bar connecting them.
There are also multiple new M Sport packages to choose from to spice up the exterior, with larger air intakes up front, high-gloss black trim, upgraded exhaust, cascade grille lighting, and 22-inch wheels, as well as M Sport brakes…
…and the interior too, with aluminum trim and exclusive steering wheel. But, by far the biggest change inside for ‘23 is a new dashtop curved display that eliminates the typical BMW well-hooded gauge pod and blends 12-inch Live Cockpit Pro into the 15-inch infotainment touchscreen, which now features iDrive8. Both a Head-Up Display and a large panoramic sunroof are standard.
Whether set up for 2 or 3 passengers, 2nd row seat room remains plentiful, and though the X7 doesn’t look ungainly large like many of its competitors, access to the 3rd row is quite good. Cargo space is reached through a fairly unique, Range Rover-style, split tailgate, which is quite oddly satisfying to watch unfold. There’s room for 48.6 cubic-ft. of goods behind the 2nd row, with a max of 90.4 cu.-ft.
The base xDrive40i has always been the sensible choice, even more so now with a new inline-6 turbo getting a significant bump in horsepower from 335 to 375, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that results in a total of 398 lb-ft. of torque.
At our Mason Dixon test track, there was enough to blast this big beast to 60 in just 5.4-seconds. That’s only about half a second slower than the V8 did the deed back in 2019. Making that optional 523-horsepower V8 simply overkill at this point. Our best ¼-mile pass was 13.9-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. All X7s get a quick shifting sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, which adds a new Sprint Function that finds the lowest usable gear instantly and maxes electric boost with a hold of the left shift paddle. What fun!
New looks and updated tech are cool, but BMW has also addressed dynamics as well, with a retuning of all chassis systems, including the optional Dynamic Handling Package which adds adaptive suspension with roll stabilization and uses GPS and camera data to prepare for what’s coming. We’re not sure if our slalom course was anticipated, but the X7 sure felt well-equipped to handle it. All-wheel drive is standard on all X7s, along with comprehensive drive modes.
In our braking runs, the pads bit down hard quickly, stopping us from 60 in just 115-feet with very little nosedive.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 6-cylinder are 21-City, 25-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged just 21.0 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
There’s an average Energy Impact Score; 13.5-barrels of oil yearly, with CO2 emissions of 6.5-tons.
Pricing starts at $78,845, and it’s a significant step up from there to $104,095 if you want the V8. Even more reason to stick with the 6-cylinder as far as we’re concerned.
It took the ultimate driving machine folks quite a bit of time to enter the 3-row family crossover segment, but when they did, they were able to create their largest utility ever and keep it consistent with their values. For 2023, the BMW X7 gets even more dynamic, embraces new tech, and looks better too. All things that should keep the BMW faithful coming back for more.
- Engine: I-6
- Horsepower: 375
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 21.0 MPG
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 398 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.9-seconds at 100 mph
- EPA: 21 City / 25 Highway / 22 Combined