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2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid first drive review: Half-step in the right direction

Bentley adds plug-in power to its fantastic new Flying Spur, but the end result isn't as harmonious as you'd expect.

2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid
Azure Purple? Yes, please.

Bentley recently surveyed its customers about their electro-curiosity and learned that 60% are ready to park a hybrid or EV in their fancy garage. That bodes well for the British automaker, as the company plans to introduce electrified versions of all its cars in the next few years and is committed to going EV-only by the end of the decade. Deliveries of the Bentayga plug-in hybrid SUV have been on a steady uptick since its arrival in 2019. And on the heels of record sales in 2021, the arrival of the Flying Spur Hybrid couldn't be better timed.

The Flying Spur certainly knows how to make an entrance as it silently whizzes into a Beverly Hills valet line. Long and low, athletic and elegant, the new Flying Spur has mega curb appeal, and kudos to Bentley for finishing this one in a radiant hue of Azure Purple, rounding things out with the sedan's largest 22-inch wheel option. This flashy spec not your jam? That's fine. There are literally 56 billion ways to configure a Flying Spur (really!), so please, go wild.

Visual changes for the Hybrid are decidedly modest. Small badges adorn the quarter panels and an extra fuel door door grants access to the J1772 Level 2 charging port. Even inside the Flying Spur, hybrid callouts are few and far between. You'll notice an additional hybrid driving mode icon at the top of the digital gauge cluster and an E-Mode button on the console lets you switch between the Spur's EV, Hybrid and Hold (aka battery reserve) settings.

Bentley's 12.3-inch touchscreen continues to run a reskinned version of Porsche's last-generation PCM software, and it can either be permanently affixed to the dash or housed in the very cool $6,490 Bentley Rotating Display. The Flying Spur Hybrid gets additional eco-driving pages in the multimedia system, and the navigation screen has a bright green blob-like outline that shows how far you can drive from your current location solely using the battery's remaining charge.

Of course, tech isn't the highlight of the Flying Spur's cabin. The silky hides, wood veneers and polished metal accents are the stuff of champagne-fueled dreams. It all looks killer in photos, but the attention to detail is something that really comes alive in person. Run your fingers across the threads of the hand-stitched seams. Pore over the intricate knurling on the stalks and knobs. Feel the weight of the plungers that open and close the air vents. And for Pete's sake, turn on the massaging seats.

This is so, so nice.


The Flying Spur's interior reaches a new level of serenity when you're wafting around under battery power. And with the electric motor providing 134 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of instant torque, pulling away from stoplights is an effortless and graceful affair. The 18-kilowatt-hour battery should deliver about 19-20 miles of range, and with the ability to cruise silently at speeds up to 80 mph, this hushed experience is a big reason to look forward to Bentley's first full EV.

But as soon as the comfort of electric opulence sets in, the Flying Spur Hybrid's 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 crashes the party. This is the first six-cylinder Bentley in more than 60 years, and it's a powertrain borrowed from the Spur's platform-mate, the Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid. Sadly, it's a disappointingly uncouth reminder of internal combustion that feels like a stumble in the company's march of progress.

With the engine and electric motor working in tandem, the Flying Spur Hybrid produces 536 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. Bentley quotes a 4.1-second 0-to-60-mph time for its electrified sedan, which is only one-tenth of a second slower than the Flying Spur V8, despite the Hybrid's extra 400 pounds of ballast. When the battery is depleted, however, you're left with the V6's 410 hp and 406 lb-ft, which is a pretty big deficit in this 5,523-pound Bentley.

The Flying Spur is absolutely lovely when driven solely under electric power.


When you start the Flying Spur Hybrid, it defaults to EV Mode, where the battery is used for the brunt of acceleration unless the throttle passes a certain point. Regenerative braking will send energy back into the battery while driving, though if the pack is full, the V6 will actually fire up in EV mode for engine braking while, say, going downhill. The transition between regenerative and mechanical braking isn't natural and is often hard to modulate, especially at slower speeds. This is a trait I've experienced in the Panamera E-Hybrid, too, and is yet another jarring disruption in the Flying Spur's otherwise smooth demeanor.

But nothing compares to the harsh sound of the V6, especially when it's being tasked with the full brunt of moving this luxurious behemoth. You can recharge the battery on the go while driving in Sport mode, but the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission eagerly downshifts and causes the engine to rev higher, letting some of that unpleasant V6 tone fill the cabin. I don't mean to harp on the V6's sound so much, but this is a Bentley, you guys, and every decibel matters. For as awesome as the V8 sounds in other Bentley models, this V6 is just... meh. Best to just get the outstanding $8,970 Naim audio upgrade and drown out that coarseness.

Thankfully, the Flying Spur's ride quality is as supple as ever. The air suspension soaks up large blemishes on city streets and will automatically lower for better aerodynamics at freeway speeds. Unfortunately, packaging constraints for the hybrid system mean Bentley's 48-volt Dynamic Ride anti-roll tech isn't available on the Flying Spur Hybrid. Ditto the rear-axle steering system that seems to shorten the sedan's 126-inch-long wheelbase while cornering. These are two must-haves for Flying Spur owners who actually drive their cars -- and as Bentley loves to point out, its owners are more drivers than driven -- so it's a shame they can't be applied to the Hybrid.

2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid

I'll wait for the full EV.


The efficiency merits of the plug-in Flying Spur are clear. The relatively short electric range is great for brief commutes, and in combined hybrid driving, overall fuel efficiency should be decent for a car this size. With an estimated base price of $210,000, the Hybrid will likely cost a few thousand dollars less than the Flying Spur V8, too.

But the Flying Spur Hybrid represents a step backward in both driving pleasure and overall refinement, and feels like the eco-compliance car it is. For Bentley to reach its electrification goals, this model is a necessary addition. But for a luxury carmaker so accustomed to pulling out all the stops to create the best of the best, it's a bummer the Flying Spur is such an obvious stop-gap.