As it speeds toward its 2030 deadline for a fully electric fleet, Bentley is taking the scenic route, beginning with the Flying Spur Hybrid, which debuted this week in Europe.
Launching at the 2022 Autoworld Museum in Belgium, Bentley’s Flying Spur hybrid aims to capitalize on the European market demand for electric and hybrid vehicles. It’s the car company’s first hybrid sedan and its most environmentally friendly to date.
The British car manufacturer’s plug-in hybrid is an upgrade to the luxury automaker’s first attempt, the Bentayga Hybrid SUV. And it rivals its V8-powered equivalent, reaching 60 mph in just over four seconds.
“The Flying Spur Hybrid proves this by using the highly innovative third powertrain to deliver an unperceivable blend between the internal combustion engine and electric motor, refined serenity is on offer regardless of driving mode or style,” Bentley explains on its website. “Subtle exterior visual differences for the Flying Spur Hybrid include a ‘Hybrid’ front fender badge, quad oval tailpipes and a covered universal charging point on the left hand rear fender.”
The Flying Spur’s engine is smaller than the Bentayga (3.0-liter V6), but the 2.9-liter V6 is more powerful, offering a dual clutch transmission with superior performance capabilities than the former’s conventional torque converter gearbox. The Spur delivers 536 horsepower—95 more than the Bentayga, and 553 pound-feet of torque.
The new hybrid sees an upgrade on the battery efficiency, too; EV-only mode reaches a range of 25 miles at 80 mph versus the Bentayga’s 16 miles. The Spur can reach full charge in 2.5 hours. There’s still some grey area, according to the brand, as it waits for EPA fuel economy numbers, but the estimates are more than 450 miles in combined range. The Spur is the most fuel-efficient Bentley to date.
“With the recent announcement of our strong performance across Europe, supported by a double digit increase result, 2022 will be another busy year with the brand activities ahead of us,” Balazs Rooz, Bentley’s Regional Director, Europe said in a statement. “While the Flying Spur Hybrid will reach our customers from April onwards, we are excited to hear the feedback from this first public appearance in Europe.”
Driving the Flying Spur Hybrid
“Press the Engine Start button and you’ll hear… nothing. The Flying Spur Hybrid defaults to electric drive mode as long as the propulsive battery has charge, producing an entirely silent startup experience. The digital gauge in the instrument panel offers separate readouts indicating electric, gas, and combined mileage range,” Basem Wasef writes in Fortune.
Wasef says when in EV mode, the Flying Spur Hybrid feels “exactly as smooth and quiet as you’d expect it to off the line, whisking its 5,523 pounds up to speed in discrete silence.”
But he cautions that keeping it in EV mode requires a “keen eye towards the power gauge and a gentle touch of the accelerator pedal” or risk going too fast and triggering the V6 powerplant. “The transition is seamless, though the internal combustion powerplant does become somewhat audible when it comes to life,” he writes.
Bentley’s road to electric
Last year, Bentley promised its first fully electric vehicle would arrive in 2025. By 2030, it says all vehicles will be electric. It’s a notable shift for the brand best known for its 12-cylinder engines.
It launched the Bentayga hybrid in 2019.
Bentley is taking other steps toward greening its production, too. In 2019, Bentley’s Crewe, England, factory headquarters became the very first carbon-neutral luxury automobile factory in the UK.
With the Bentayga and now the Flying Spur both coming in hybrid models, Global CEO and Chairman Adrian Hallmark says the shift is underway; those two car models represent 65 percent of sales already. The brand showcased the hybrids last month at Monterey Car Week in California.
“Every car will be hybridized. Already the Bentayga and the Flying Spur are and they represent about 65% of our sales. So we’ve already got good coverage of the portfolio,” Hallmark said. “By 2023, we will only offer hybrids. By 2025, we’ll offer our first full-battery electric vehicle as well. And then by 2030, only battery electric vehicles. This is a radical change, but it’s nine years — it’s not nine months.”
Bentley says the Spur along with the Bentayga marks an important step in the company’s Beyond100 strategy to become “a fully end-to-end carbon neutral brand by 2030.”