The trickle of electrons at Bentley is soon to become a flood, as the automaker prepares to fully electrify its entire lineup by the end of the decade. While this is a goal shared industry-wide, it's a rather monumental shift for Bentley, whose reputation has been defined in large part by its massive—and thirsty—engines. Hence the existence of the Flying Spur Hybrid, a 5600-pound steppingstone placed between the shores of those gargantuan powertrains and the horizon of total electrification.
The Flying Spur follows in the footsteps of the Bentayga, which first tiptoed into the hybrid waters back in 2019 as Bentley's first electrified model. Both employ plug-in systems, as the larger battery delivers motivation that a regular hybrid can't provide. Here, the Flying Spur uses a 410-hp version of the corporate 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6. It's the first six-cylinder found under the hood of a Bentley sedan in 64 years. A 134-hp electric motor occupies the space between the engine and eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. With a combined output of 536 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, the hybrid powertrain delivers numbers that are on par with its rowdier 542-hp V-8 big brother.
As a result, the hybrid's performance should also be similar, despite a couple-hundred-pound weight disadvantage. With both motors singing and all four wheels pulling, the Flying Spur hybrid should be able to reach 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. (We recorded a 3.5-second time for the Flying Spur V-8.) Top speed is limited to 177 mph, versus 198 for the V-8. While Bentley emphasized that the EV system is optimized for urban journeys, it also touted the hybrid's ability to cruise at speeds up to 80 mph in EV Drive mode. Official numbers have yet to be released, but we'd estimate the 14.1-kWh battery will deliver about 21 miles of range. Nor are EPA fuel-economy estimates available, though one would hope to see them notch a significant gain over the V-8's 15/20 mpg city/highway numbers.
The joy of electric thrust lies not in its mechanical voice, but in the absence of it. Bentley touts that the cabin of the hybrid is 50 percent quieter than that of the V-8's at 50 mph. On its own, the electric motor produces 295 pound-feet of torque, all of which is available from a dead stop. It's more than capable of sustaining the big Bentley's momentum through traffic. When rolling along in EV Drive mode, the Flying Spur Hybrid provides a marvelous glimpse of what an all-electric Bentley might be like.
Keeping the battery charged avoids this morsel of powertrain inelegance. The 7.2-kW onboard charger can fully replenish the battery in approximately two and a half hours, according to Bentley. We suspect most owners will rely on a dedicated home charger rather than cool their heels at a public unit. That's just as well, as the Flying Spur's charging-port placement and substantial length make it challenging to squeeze into crowded bays, as we discovered. Speaking of maneuverability, the Spur's rear-wheel steering and the 48-volt active anti-roll bars are not on the options list, as the bulk of the hybrid components now occupy the space normally reserved for them.
In a recent survey of its customers, Bentley discovered that roughly half of them expressed interest in either purchasing a PHEV or EV vehicle. But at this juncture, the hybrid version of the Flying Spur is missing those few key traits that make the gas-powered variants so delightfully engaging. For those early adopters, however, the hybrid's rough edges might be a tolerable tradeoff.