Why would any potential buyer of a Bentley Flying Spur—a rolling symbol of a life lived large—ever choose an engine that has less power and fewer cylinders than the existing 6.0-liter W-12? We can pretty much discount price. The new V-8 model is $20,700 cheaper than the one powered by the W-12, and that would be considered a sizable discount in the real world. But as the V-8 still carries a base price of $197,825, it’s fair to assume that anyone who could afford it might easily stretch to the W-12. Specify a V-8 with the premium audio system, rear screens, and those all-important walnut picnic tables, and you’ve already offset the price difference between the two cars.
The eight-cylinder does give better gas mileage, in the unlikely event this matters any. It uses selective cylinder shutdown to turn itself into a V-4 under gentle use. But with the possible exception of Scrooge McDuck, it’s doubtful this will be a concern to many modern millionaires. It’s true that in some parts of the world the V-8 engine’s smaller displacement and more modest carbon-dioxide emissions will save buyers tens of thousands a year in taxes. But since the U.S. hasn’t succumbed to the forces of eco-Marxism quite yet, this difference can also be discounted.
No, the reason to choose the less powerful eight-cylinder is simple: It makes the Flying Spur a better car. We’ve already driven this engine in the Bentley Continentaland Audi RS7, among others, and a refresher course behind the wheel of the Bentley gives a welcome reminder of just how good it is. The Spur V-8 can’t match the headline-grabbing performance figures of its bigger sister (it still manages 183 mph and an estimated 4.2-second 0-to-60 time), but the smaller engine’s keener throttle response and lag-free delivery more than offset its relative lack of power and torque.