STRATEGY

Drives: I know! And I'm Getting a Lumbar Massage, Too!

Bentley's new Continental Flying Spur has 552 horses and 11 cows. (Translation: very fast, exceptionally luxurious.)
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"We don't get too many Bentleys up here in Weybridge," said the kind truck driver who stopped to give me directions on a snowy Vermont back road. I didn't mind the stares, particularly when I was nestled snugly inside the automotive wonderland known as the Continental Flying Spur. The cavernous four-door sedan, based on the two-door Continental GT, makes driving more like lounging in a smoking room in slippers. The cabin has more than three feet of legroom per passenger and is cloaked in imported leather with touches of walnut trim. And with a twin-turbocharged engine that hits a top speed of 195 mph--faster than any other four-door sedan--the Flying Spur lives up to its name. It even allows you to set a personal "I'm going way too flipping fast" warning.

Spending a couple of days in the Flying Spur offered a host of we-must-be-somebody thrills. The most dangerous was when a Passat--technically the Flying Spur's cousin since Bentley is a subsidiary of Volkswagen--pulled alongside me at 60 miles per hour and swerved into my lane as the driver attempted to snap what could have been his last photo. And yet, the greatest pleasure was a serene drive along the Robert Frost Trail in the Green Mountains. The roads were mildly treacherous, so it was nice to know that the all-wheel-drive masterpiece had been tested on the icy passes of Mount Grossglockner in the Austrian Alps. Mellowing out to Burlington's all-hippie, all-the-time radio station as I gazed at the quiet forests along the roads less traveled, life was rich.


2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur

Sticker price
$164,990 standard, $179,185 for the model we tested

Vital stats
A six-liter, 12-cylinder, 552-hp engine; 0 to 100 mph in 11.3 seconds; and 479 foot-pounds of torque

Good stuff
Front seats that offer more sitting positions than a Hatha yoga class as well as lumbar massage; pushbutton ignition; wipers that adjust automatically to rain intensity; and a trunk that has 16.7 cubic feet of storage and opens into a back-seat ski hatch

Drawbacks
I had a tough time finding anything to complain about. I guess there's the lowly 12/19 mpg, but if you're going to guzzle gas, why not do it in style?

Second opinion
"The Flying Spur is fresh and stylish," says Ken Panton, president of eCityofAutos.com. "It raises the standards of automotive luxury."

Last updated: Feb 1, 2006




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