While mainstream cars have embraced efficiency by adopting smaller engines, today’s top supercars have countered by engineering complex gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrains with upwards of 1,000 hp. Somewhere between those antipodes is the Bentley Flying Spur V8, an 8-cylinder alternative to the British carmaker’s venerable 12-cylinder sedan that makes a strong case for smaller displacement and fewer cylinders.
Because the Flying Spur’s twin-turbocharged V-8 is lighter and more compact than its W-12 counterpart, handling is aided by the more balanced layout. The 4.0-liter V-8 produces 500 hp—116 hp less than the W-12—and is capable of accelerating the car to 60 mph from a standstill in under 5 seconds. The engine features a cylinder deactivation function that works imperceptibly to save fuel when it is not being taxed.
The V-8 Flying Spur’s cabin can be outfitted to be every bit as luxurious as that of its 12-cylinder counterpart, incorporating elegantly detailed wood and leather. Our test vehicle’s 1,100-watt, 13-channel Naim sound system enveloped the cabin in rich, full, detailed sound, while double-pane glass maintained a soothing level of insulation. Though the Flying Spur V8’s acceleration does not feel quite as effortless as that of the W-12, the 8-speed transmission aids the engine in masking the decreased power. The power train feels a bit more mechanical and slightly less silky than the W-12 arrangement, but it still possesses quite a bit of refinement, especially when accelerating at highway speeds—where it unfurls smooth, assertive power.
We drove our Bentley Flying Spur V8 several hundred miles on a multiday trip to Central California, and its massaging seats, crystal-clear sound system, and quiet interior made the journey a pleasure. Perhaps best of all, the car never lacked for passing power, and its efficiency required fewer stops for fuel—a modern-day luxury in its own right. (bentleymotors.com)