2021 Bentley Flying Spur V8 review: bigger is not always better

Yes, there’s a Bentley Flying Spur W12 on the table, but eight cylinders still trumps it

Bentley Flying Spur
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Eight cylinders or 12? Doesn’t seem like much of an argument to be had. Eights are great but 12s are, well, something else. Certainly that’s true of Aston Martins and Ferraris, but with a Bentley whose 12 comes in a compact but hardly tuneful ‘W’ layout rather than ‘V’ configuration? In the Continental GT the eight wins every time: it’s lighter, handles better but crucially it sounds wonderful.

Can the same argument be made for this new Flying Spur V8, especially that for the first time in three generations, it’s Bentley’s de facto flagship now the wonderful Mulsanne is gone?

Well yes. Absolutely in fact. I guess there must be a certain plutocratic satisfaction in having W12 badges on your flanks and I expect that Bentley has cutting-edge scientific instrumentation that proves the 12 is quieter at cruising speed and, yes, it has even more torque. But will some owners notice it, even some of the time? I doubt it.

They’re far more likely to notice that the V8 sounds a whole lot better, is 100kg lighter, £21,400 cheaper, goes further on a tank and has a better relationship with its double-clutch gearbox. Both handle implausibly well for such large and weighty cars, but I once drove a W12 Spur to the Alps and back, and not once during the V8’s time with me did I miss any aspect of it. Both are outstanding cars, but the V8 is the one to have.

Bentley Flying Spur V8 statistics

Price £153,900

Engine 4 litres, V8, twin-turbo

Power 562bhp at 6000rpm

Weight 2330kg

Power to weight 241bhp per tonne

Transmission Eight-speed double-clutch, four-wheel drive

0-60mph 4.1sec

Top speed 198mph

Economy 22.2mpg

CO₂ 288g/km

Verdict Eight is better than 12