With a few engineering tricks — including redesigned cylinder heads — and a pair of intercooled KKK turbochargers, Bentley engineering in England redrafted VW's W12 to 552 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 470 pound-feet of torque that peaks at just 1,600 rpm.
For good measure and great acceleration, the Flying Spur employs a ZF six-speed automatic transmission with an especially aggressive first gear (14.68 to 1) and steering wheel-mounted paddles to let you crack the whip manually even when you leave the Tiptronic shift lever in "drive."
The extreme effects of such an execution of power are a snap-launch off the line — Bentley figures it's got a 4.9-second 0-to-60 car here — and a forward rush that finds itself a home in virtually any gear all the way up to the engine's 6,500-rpm redline. At the top end of top gear, the Continental Flying Spur has been witnessed reaching 195 mph.
From inside the Flying Spur, however, you'll notice a grand total of none of this acceleration drama. Rather, you'll be entranced by the flood of premium leather covering everything from the seats and door panels to the rear parcel shelf and headliner. That which isn't leather appears to be wood — unbleached, unstained and mirror-matched (door-to-door) farm-grown walnut, with other veneers available.
Your pleasure-seeking side will be further shocked into complacency by the Flying Spur's multizone climate control, a top-flight audio system with six-disc CD changer in the glovebox and a Breitling analog clock in the dash. The Bentley's front seats feature 16-way electrical adjustment, plus heating controls, lumbar adjustment and a pulsing massage at the touch of a button. The rear seats also cater to passengers' whims of warmth adjustment and legroom.
The double-wishbone front and multilink rear air spring suspension, too, supports your non-patrician leanings into high-speed corners. The setup is cockpit adjustable to four settings from comfort to sport, but the change is so transparent from in the cockpit that it's hard to really appreciate unless you are following another Flying Spur into a good corner on a bad road. That way you can watch the road surface try to shake loose the car's poise, and fail virtually every time.
The combination of the Bentley's suspension, its full-time all-wheel drive, and its ESP traction and stability system narrows the number of off-road-incidence excuses to one: stupidity. The Continental Flying Spur is an easy car to drive fast and an easy car to drive quick, but it's also an easy car to drive easy.