Defining luxury varies from person to person. For some, it’s all about comfort. Others look at it from a technology or sporting standpoint. Certain consumers revel in the lack of compromise. That last group gravitates toward vehicles that give them everything and the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid promises exactly that. However, that begs the question… Why does Bentley need a hybrid? Do people buying a six-figure vehicle need something eco-friendly when they can afford the fuel and six-figure price tag? Oh, they do, and that’s because the idea of not compromising now includes sustainability and experiencing a piece of the next big thing.
Let’s get the gushing out of the way first: the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid oozes opulence. The fit and finish and attention to detail are simply second to none. Every surface is soft, padded, or covered in leather. The wood and metal trim create a magnificent contrast while the controls feature knurled surfaces that result in a jewel-like effect. Bentley even took the diamond pattern on the door cards to the next level by making them three-dimensional. The stately exterior features neat details like the illuminated Flying B hood ornament, headlights patterned after crystals, and nods to the Bentley logo on the taillights.
The Flying Spur Hybrid car has all of the latest technologies from the Volkswagen Group executed with the finesse befitting of a Bentley. Its infotainment system is user-friendly and logically presents menus, while the optional Naim audio system is the best listening experience on the market. Bentley’s driver assistance suite works subtly. Its actions are hardly noticeable even in traffic, adding to the Flying Spur’s smooth, sophisticated demeanor.
Why a hybrid?
Now that the gushing is over, let’s answer that question we posted earlier…why does Bentley need a hybrid? It’s definitely not due to money because the Flying Spur Hybrid costs $210,000 or $11,900 more than the V8-powered version We go back to the notion of not compromising. Alongside the Flying Spur, Bentley also offers a plug-in hybrid powertrain in the Bentayga. In a recent study it conducted, the automaker found that 70 percent of its customers identified environmental friendliness as a key reason for buying a hybrid. Around 98 percent commute in all-electric mode while 83 percent charge every night.
Last year, one in five Bentaygas sold were hybrids according to Bentley. Over 90 percent of those owners use their electrified SUVs daily or several times a week, according to research the automaker conducted last year. Nearly all owners used the Bentayga Hybrid’s all-electric mode and half of them drove the vehicle on trips that are 30 miles or less. So yes, even the wealthiest consumers care about their environmental impact but that’s just one aspect that explains why Bentley is making hybrids.
Let’s address the next part because you may be wondering why to go for this over the V8- or W12-powered Flying Spur. While those are more powerful, they don’t give you a taste of what the future is like because the engine is always humming along. The Flying Spur Hybrid, on the other hand, does because it relies on its all-electric mode a lot. Heck, it even starts in it when you first turn it on. Between the insane levels of sound insulation to the lack of powertrain noise, this Bentley possesses the comfort and refinement that only an electrified powertrain can provide. Charge every night and you can experience this again the next day.
You may be wondering, well this isn’t a pure battery-electric vehicle, what’s the deal? A plug-in hybrid is an ideal bridge that provides the power that this type of consumer wants while giving them a way to experience the future. Although the Flying Spur Hybrid has the lowest output of the three powertrain options, it still manages to quickly get you to triple-digit speeds. Between the electric motor, 18.9-kWh lithium-ion battery (14.1-kWh usable capacity), and the 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6, there’s 536 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque combined going through all four wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
From the electric motor’s instant torque to the twin-turbo V6’s broad powerband and a speedy transmission that knows what you want before you even think it, this powertrain enhances the car’s uncompromising attitude. Bentley’s V8s and W12s may operate a smidgen smoother than this plug-in hybrid system but it’s worth the trade-off when you can drive or be driven around in complete serenity for 21 miles at a time.
Why not dive into the VW Group parts bin?
If you’re wondering why Bentley didn’t simply raid parent company Volkswagen Group’s parts bin, well it did. The only difference is that the brand decided a PHEV made more sense at the moment for the type of vehicles it wants to electrify. Yes, it could’ve made a battery-electric vehicle on the same J1 architecture as the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT but keep in mind Bentleys need to do it all and that includes traveling great distances effortlessly.
The available components don’t cut it for Bentley’s requirements, especially in the driving range department. Neither vehicle currently on the J1 platform is EPA-rated for over 250 miles per charge. A heavier Bentley — even a two-door coupe like the Continental GT or a production version of the EXP 100 GT Concept — will have even less and that won’t do it for the brand’s clientele.
Using the current underpinnings shared with the Continental GT and Porsche Panamera became the most viable option. Since that architecture was developed with hybridization in mind, it’s the ideal middle ground that enables Bentley to offer a no-compromise eco-friendly Flying Spur for those that want to experience the joys of electrified mobility. This is evident in the way the Flying Spur Hybrid drives because it’s as good at taking corners as it is at making road imperfections disappear.
A willing chassis and excellent body control enable this big, luxurious barge to snake through curves effortlessly. The standard rear-wheel steering system helps with that along with its accurate and nicely weighted steering. That’s not to say the Flying Spur Hybrid is a full-on performance sedan because it drives as big as it looks. It possesses the right amount of agility to give it the sporting edge to complement its prodigious power but not at the cost of ride comfort. Otherwise, that would be crude and wouldn’t be in line with the car’s personality.
Bentley’s first BEV debuts in 2025 and will be followed by four other all-electric models. When you consider that time frame, it’s obvious that plug-in hybrids are on borrowed time and will be slowly phased out in favor of fully electric models. The upcoming BEV-specific architecture being developed with Audi under Project Artemis is the next step. Since modularity and flexibility are two of its key traits, it will underpin Bentley’s upcoming BEVs and allow it to continue its “have it all” approach to high-end luxury vehicles.
A way around emissions legislation
PHEVs like the Flying Spur Hybrid bring a lot of benefits to the table and some are less obvious than others. Cutting emissions without sacrificing performance and opulence is the major one but there’s another that’s essentially the cherry on top: the ability to drive through clean air and green zones. Certain regions give you perks for driving something with a plug, affording you greater freedom of mobility.
Cities like London, Berlin, Paris, and Oslo have specific zones where internal combustion vehicles can’t enter or are required to pay a toll based on how much CO2 and other gases they emit. Beech Street in London’s Barbican and Golden Lane Estates areas, for instance, requires a vehicle to have at least 20 miles of all-electric range to enter. The target demographic of vehicles like the Flying Spur is among those living in locations where these policies are in place. Having something electrified enables them to bypass these charges because their vehicle isn’t considered highly polluting.
In countries like Norway where electrified vehicle ownership is encouraged, you get lots of benefits for choosing an electrified vehicle with a plug. PHEVs qualify for major incentives, tax breaks, and have the same annual road tax as battery-electric vehicles, according to the European Alternative Fuels Observatory. However, BEV ownership in Norway is expanding, hitting 65 percent of sales in 2021, according to a recent Reuters report. PHEVs, on the other hand, made up 22 percent of sales last year. Disadvantages? PHEVs aren’t exempted from the value-added tax or VAT in Norway whereas BEVs are until the end of 2022.
European countries aren’t the only regions where tailpipe emissions have become a major issue. In the U.S., this is now a hot topic as the Biden administration pushes for renewable energy and electrified mobility. The White House recently announced that it won’t buy any more internal combustion vehicles by 2035 and is targeting 50 percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030 to be electrified. This puts the national initiative on the same level as many progressive states including California, which has pledged to ban non-electrified vehicles by 2035.
The box checker (and then some)
It’s best to view the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid as a necessary interim step. While the automaker develops its BEVs, plug-in hybrids allow them to respond to changing landscape while providing their clientele with vehicles that conform to the brand identity. It checks all of the boxes that Bentley is known for while gaining the ability to experience what’s next, cutting emissions, and providing greater freedom of mobility.
At a glance
- Year: 2022
- Make: Bentley
- Model: Flying Spur Hybrid
- Type: 4-door full-size luxury sedan
- Combined horsepower: 536 hp
- Torque: 553 lb-ft
- MPGe ratings (city/highway/combined): 17/22/19
- EV range: 21 miles
- Base price: $210,000
- Price as tested: $278,500