The second change to the Flying Spur to make it a hybrid – after adding electricity – is to lop off at least two of the cylinders. The Flying Spur Hybrid comes with neither W12 or V8, but a 2.9-litre V6 engine.
That V6 provides 416PS (305kW) of the Flying Spur Hybrid’s total 544PS (400kW), and an electric motor – mounted between engine and transmission rather than on the axle – adds up to 136PS (100kW). Perhaps the most impressive stat here is that the V6 is actually more power dense than the normal V8. Torque sits at 550Nm (406lb ft) – that’s 95Nm more than the V8 – from pretty much zero revs, thanks to that electric motor, so 62mph can be reached in 4.1 seconds, which is just 0.1 slower than the V8.
The most intriguing thing about this car is perhaps that, despite its literal century of internal combustion experience, it is the trad V6 that lets the Flying Spur Hybrid down. The electric motors are well integrated, providing instant power and capable cruising with little issue, but the moment the V6 kicks in the big Bentley goes from peaceful cruiser to something less refined. There’s a very un-Bentley-like rattle when the petrol motor gets itself going, and while it settles down somewhat it’s always a little gruff, which, when we’re talking luxury Bentley, isn’t exactly the smooth ride you hope for.
However, that said, the electric powertrain very nearly makes up for the V6’s problems. The combination of totally quiet motion with luxury car refinement is surely a match made in heaven? This is truly peaceful perambulation. When the Flying Spur is in its all-EV mode it feels at its absolute best. That single motor may only add 136PS, but it has a chunky 400Nm (295lb ft) on tap. It’s not the most expressive of electric powertrains we’ve driven, but foot to the floor it’ll ship itself to 60mph in sprightly fashion.