High on the highway: The brutally fast and comfortable CFS Speed is one of Bentleys best offerings
Photographs by author
A name capable of leaving you breathless if you say it once and performance that will knock the wind out of you. Yes, were talking about the Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed.
Frills and thrills
We are cruising along and the reception of the satellite radio signal is perfect. The sound quality from the 15 speaker purpose-built Naim audio system is exemplary and with 1,100 real watts of power (a production car record), I feel like Im standing in row four of a Led Zeppelin concert. Still I chop the volume and switch off the music. Time to listen to the car — the roar of the wind, the snarl of the engine and the sound of tortured rubber as it cradles two-and-a-half tonnes of flying metal.
Weve just come to an open section of road, one thats not too strictly policed, and after making one slow, or regular speed pass, my passenger from Bentley politely suggests that we turn around and have a real go at the seven-odd miles of road. After about 40 miles of driving like a pensioner/ granny/ little old lady and sticking to around 96kph, I almost pull a handbrake turn. (It is a car stunt when you suddenly pull the handbrake on a moving car to make the car turn and then release it and resume at speed.)
But theres something wrong. The mute button Ive hit seems to have muted everything. Yes, the scenery outside is getting as blurry as an Impressionist painting, I need to use my neck muscles every time I flex my right foot and the speedo seems to be way too optimistic.
But the only sounds I hear are the quiet squeaking of the leather seat and the distant rumble from the exhaust. Only the pit of my stomach tells me how quick we are going. This car may weigh two-and-a-half tonnes, but 600bhp and an insane 76kgm of torque mean it can reach warp speed faster than you can blink. It takes just 4.6 seconds to 100 and 160 takes only 10-odd seconds. Thats brutally quick by any standards.
Under the hood
I remember being blown away by the insane ability of the Continental Flying Spur (CFS) to carry speed through a corner when I had driven the car on a wet Mumbai-Pune expressway with the Bentley digging its claws into the road even at speeds as high as 190kph — in the wet!
This was the same feeling, only better. The CFS Speed has an even more capable chassis — its lowered and stiffened, and the steering has been further sharpened too. Then there are the grippier Pirelli P-Zero tyres and the Bosch new 8.1 ESP provides more progressive intervention. ESP or the Electronic Stability Program stabilises the car. It is a system that makes use of in-built computer sensors. Whenever the danger of a spin is detected, it reacts by selectively braking the front and/or rear wheels and reducing or increasing engine torque.
Sure, the Bentleys approach may lack a degree of finesse, its more clobber the tarmac into submission than F1 car-like dexterity. Still, it is an incredibly effective tool for covering ground rapidly.
You can slice off massive speed with those 420mm carbon ceramic front brakes, carry a crazy amount of speed into a corner without the car feeling sloppy and exit with your foot down on the throttle, as the four-wheel-drive hardware transfers all the power to the road. Driven rapidly it may not deliver the same tactile sensations as the Porsche 911, after all two-and-a-half tonnes is not to be trifled with, but the Bentley isnt too far behind.
And theres another side to the CFS character. Set the suspension and dampers on their softest and the car relaxes, its hard edge tempered. Bentley has improved the ride on the CFS and the cabin is also much quieter now.
Many of these features have been carried over onto this Speed version as well, which is great news for those of you looking to buy the car in India (though you need to be slightly wary of the low profile rubber, especially considering the lethal combination of all that weight and our potholed roads).
As a result, even this harder-charging version is a supremely comfortable way to cover ground rapidly. Yes, you will feel some bumps on our roads but the front seats are just perfect. The rear seats provide excellent thigh and back support and a bench seat in the rear is an option.
In fact, levels of customisation are almost unprecedented on the new Continental Flying Spurs; the options list is endless. Then you have that sublime combination of wood, leather, chrome and classic white on black dials. Some of the plastic buttons look quite ordinary though. Sportscar performance and limo luxury in a single package — no one does it better than Bentley. And the CFS Speed is one of its best offerings ever. If you have to splash out on a brutally fast and comfortable car in India, sign up here — even at Rs 2.59 crore.
BENTLEY CONTINENTAL FLYING SPUR SPEED
Price: Rs 2.59 crore
Turning circle: 11.8m
Kerb weight: 2475kg
Engine: W12 Turbocharged, 5998cc, petrol
Installation: Front, longitudinal, all-wheel drive
Power: 600bhp at 6000rpm
Torque: 76kgm at 1750rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed automatic
Fuel tank: 90 litres
Brakes (F/R): Carbon ceramic 420mm discs / 356 discs
Tyres: 275/35 R20