When work began on the Continental GT coupe in 1999, a simultaneous programme was instigated for a four-door version that would mirror the performance and design qualities of the coupe and also provide unparalleled levels of space and comfort in a way that only a Bentley can. The results of that forward-thinking approach are now clear as the Continental Flying Spur is unveiled for the first time.
Sumptuous levels of space and comfort are a given in the Continental Flying Spur. The quality of the overall design and cabin interior is simply without rival and only another Bentley can match the craftsmanship that has gone into making this elegant and opulent four-door Grand Tourer.
These clear and simple targets were laid down to Bentley's head of design, Dirk van Braeckel, when the project began, and he made sure that they were not forgotten as the car's form began to take shape.
"We were very conscious that the Continental Flying Spur had to make a sporting statement when people first saw it - after all it is a Bentley," says van Braeckel. "That's actually more challenging with a four-door than a coupe, which will always look 'fast', so we spent a long time working on an appearance of potency while still retaining the presence and stature that customers expect from our cars."
A sporting statement, however, was not the sole target for the car's design. It also needed to reflect Bentley's evolving modern image, retaining the understated but bold feel that its design team believes has carried Bentley forward throughout its history.
"From the very beginning, Bentleys have been quite reserved when it comes to design," says van Braeckel. "It has always been recognised that Bentleys are much less ostentatious than rival cars of a similar price. The new Continental Flying Spur embodies that Bentley ethos of understated elegance."
The Continental Flying Spur consequently shares the clean and muscular appearance of the Continental GT coupe with a short front overhang and dominant matrix radiator grille. Inside the cabin, the car has a similarly stunning appearance with a beautiful interior that will stand as a benchmark thanks to its quality and craftsmanship.
The generous wheelbase of the Continental Flying Spur's chassis means spacious rear legroom for passengers and an impressive canvas on which Bentley's interior design team could set to work. Customers will have the option of a four-seat layout with a central console between two electrically-powered rear seats or a five-seat cabin with full-width rear seat. Throughout the interior, familiar Bentley trademarks make their presence felt with bullseye ventilation outlets and organ stop controls in the front and rear. Leather or wood veneers on every interior surface combine to give a traditional yet contemporary environment for the driver and passengers alike.
Continental Flying Spur owners will want for nothing, whether behind the wheel or enjoying the ride as a passenger. The car is equipped with the latest cabin technology from its advanced infotainment system to its four-zone climate control. Chairman Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen was determined that buyers of this new Bentley would immediately appreciate the generous standard specification.
"The Continental Flying Spur has all the technology and equipment that our customers want and need," he says. "They will not have to trawl through an options list for hours with their dealer because everything is included. What they will enjoy, however, is the experience of tailoring the car to their taste and style.
"As well as delivering excellent performance and dynamic handling, the Continental Flying Spur offers elegant styling and craftsmanship with its beautiful wood and leather cabin, delighting customers as only a Bentley can."Published 19 January 2005