Design process technology
Like the Continental GT coupé, the Continental Flying Spur was first designed in the computer virtual world. With all its components existing in the virtual world before a single one was created as a physical property, it was possible to see how each part interacts with all the others, highlighting problems and conflicts that might not otherwise have come to light. This process cut down development time and enabled Bentley's engineers to design in quality and consistency at a component level.
Bentley also used advanced modelling techniques at the early pre-production stages to ensure that both the exterior and interior of the car were designed to astonishing levels of accuracy. Using a technique known as Data Control Modelling, precision-machined full-scale models of the inside and outside of the car were built using composite materials that are milled to within an accuracy of 0.1mm. The result is a perfect facsimile of the new car that can be used to construct extremely accurate tools for the production stage.
The Continental Flying Spur's interior proportions provide luxurious legroom for all passengers and an impressive canvas on which Bentley's interior design team could set to work. Throughout the interior, leather hides or wood veneers on every surface combine to give a welcoming and contemporary environment for the driver and passengers alike.
Inspiration for key elements of the Continental Flying Spur's interior came from earlier Bentleys. A deep, generous wooden waistrail runs the length of the cabin, producing a feeling of cossetting protection and opulence. Deep waistrails are very much part of Bentley tradition stemming back to the 8-litre Bentleys of the 1930s. "The use of so much prominent wood is a really distinguishing factor for any Bentley," says Henrik Nordin, interior designer. "We have managed to build this into the Continental Flying Spur but without making it feel dated or retro. Instead it feels elegant, sumptuous and subtly sporting, which is exactly the sort of statement this car should make."
Naturally, wood veneers and leather hides remain an integral part of the Bentley furniture, but they have been tailored to suit the Continental Flying Spur, proving that these most traditional materials can still convey a contemporary feel. Though craftsmanship remains as important as ever, these enduring skills have been complemented by some 21st century technology allowing, for instance, wood veneer to be dramatically curved in a way that would simply not have been possible in the past. And while the hide is still applied to the car with as much loving care as ever, it is cut using a digitised process that ensures minimal levels of wastage and optimum quality levels.
Throughout the car small but ingenious design touches highlight the difference between a Bentley and a conventional luxury saloon. The front seat headrests, for example, have been kept as small as possible to allow passengers in the rear an unobstructed view out. Even the areas behind the interior door levers and grab handles are protected by a stylish metal plate that prevents rings on fingers damaging the precious leather lining.