Six-figure ultra-luxe sedans are usually perfect from top to bottom. Every detail is painstakingly pored over and the result is something that feels like it was born from a book of Victorian poetry. But when these pillars of perfection butt up against the specter of zero-emissions mandates and regulations, the result is something that feels like it's still a few hours of climbing away from the top of the mountain. Such is the case with the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid.
First impressions always matter, and the Flying Spur Hybrid makes one hell of a splash. A sedan this large stands out everywhere, even in my tester's normcore white paint. When the sun lands at the right angles, the brightwork in the grille and on the Flying B hood ornament can be seen from space, and that light also brings out the impressively strong body lines above both wheels. If you want something flashier, go for it -- as my esteemed colleague notes in his first drive, there are 56 billion different ways to configure this car -- but even a subtle spec like this one still leaves its mark.
By comparison, the Flying Spur Hybrid's interior is anything but subtle. My tester includes the Odyssean Edition specification, a $50,050 (!!!) package that ramps up the visual drama with a leather headliner, diamond quilting on the seats, 3D diamond leather on the door panels and some outright stunning open-pore Hawaiian Koa wood trim.
Every single millimeter of material is carefully executed, and the result is the best automotive interior I've ever experienced. Everything looks and feels top-notch, and I really dig the nautical blue/white/brown colorway throughout. It's so nice, I'm constantly hiding the infotainment screen (thanks, Bentley Rotating Display) just to see more wood. If I had to find a complaint, it's that all this real metal can introduce some gnarly sun reflections, but if you can afford this car, I assume you can also afford sunglasses.
Brand geeks might notice the Audi switchgear on the steering wheel, a hint that Bentley leaned on its VW Group parentage for the cabin tech. A 12.3-inch touchscreen runs a modified version of Porsche's PCM software; it's the last-gen stuff, though, so boot times are a little lazy, but the dock on the left side makes it easy to swap between the various menus when everything is up and running. Four USB-A ports are split evenly between the two rows, and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. A tweaked version of Audi's Virtual Cockpit resides in the gauge display, so you can bounce between all sorts of things to display, but I prefer the classy old-school gauge cluster layout.
If you don't spec your Flying Spur Hybrid with Bentley's $8,970 Naim audio upgrade, you're a dum-dum. This 2,200-watt system absolutely bumps, providing brilliant audio clarity across a range of frequencies, so fans of either Bach or Death Grips will have an unparalleled listening experience.
Unsurprisingly, Bentley's next high-water mark comes by way of the chassis. An air suspension with adaptive dampers provide one of the softest rides around. The Flying Spur is unbelievably cushy in Comfort mode, and it does stiffen up a smidge in Sport, but the best-of-both-worlds Bentley mode is where I prefer to keep it, since the ride remains almost illegally plush. I don't find myself missing the active sway bars and rear-wheel steering found on non-PHEV models, but it is a bummer that they can't be optioned on this variant. Then again, I can't exactly say I'm in a hurry to hustle through the corners.
The Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid combines a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6, an 18.9-kWh lithium-ion battery and an electric motor for a net 536 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. By itself, the e-motor puts out 134 hp and 295 lb-ft, and it'll cruise for an EPA-estimated 21 miles on electrons alone.
In the default EV mode, this big-body boss baby carries me around in hushed brilliance, but once it runs out of juice, the 2.9-liter V6 elbows its way into the conversation with a harsh exhaust note that sounds fine in a Porsche -- the original source for this powertrain -- but awkward in a Bentley. It never gets too loud in the cabin, though, so a little extra speaker bumpage will thankfully silence that uncouth V6 yowl.
Operating in its hybrid modes is where the Flying Spur Hybrid's execution falls off a cliff. Full-fat acceleration requires electro-involvement, and if that half of the equation is run dry, this hefty hauler feels a little underpowered. Hybrid mode is fine, although the crossover to internal combustion can be jarring under heavier throttle applications.
Trying to keep some electrons in the Bentley's battery is a surprisingly frustrating affair, too. Hold mode is perhaps the most vexing, because as far as I can tell, it doesn't actually hold anything. Over the course of two days of driving exclusively in this mode, I watched the lithium-ion pack drop from 40% state of charge to just 10%. In heavy traffic, I never depress the gas enough to kick the V6 to life, so even with Hold activated, I get to sit there and watch my electrons disappear into the ether.
Regenerative braking exists, but I cannot suss out its programming for the life of me. Whether or not the coasting feature is activated in the vehicle menu, the Flying Spur Hybrid loves to do nothing when I lift off the gas -- but only sometimes. Other times, regen will kick in, but not at a level that feels like it's really doing anything. This happens whether the battery is at a high or low state of charge, and it's truly confounding. The brake-pedal feel also leaves a lot to be desired, with a very obvious crossover point between regeneration and friction. It is surprisingly hard to brake smoothly in this car, which is a little point-defeating, being a luxo-barge and all.
Most owners will likely have homes with charging solutions, and it only takes 2.5 hours to juice up to full with a standard Level 2 setup, so I recommend keeping that bad boy topped off as much as possible. Although the braking issue is present across all modes, operating on pure electricity is where the Flying Spur Hybrid truly shines, and it leaves me incredibly optimistic that the first battery-electric Bentley will slap harder than Will Smith.
Is this PHEV expensive? You betcha. A base Flying Spur Hybrid will set you back $217,525, including $2,725 in mandatory destination fees. My tester's Odyssean Edition spec brings the window sticker up to a spit-take-friendly $267,575, including destination. Go crazy on the custom touches, and it wouldn't be hard to spend even more. The 2022 Bentley Flying Spur might be five times more expensive than the average new car in the US, but hey, it's still $130,000 less expensive than the average home price, so there's a feather for your cap.
There are so many things to like about the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid. Sadly, the powertrain isn't really one of them. But that's an easy fix, because the available V8 and W12 engines are both fantastic and less complex from an end-user standpoint. If you really want an electric Bentley, and I think you might, you're better off waiting for the real thing.