Test Drive: 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid

Progress meets classic luxury in the British brand's stunning sedan

Following the 2020 arrival of the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid SUV, the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid is the most recent step in the British luxury carmaker’s plan to go fully electric by 2030. While the shift will be momentous, the cars remain as grand and opulent as ever. And the design language—”resting, calm, powerful and superior”—remains the same, Peter Bosch (board member for manufacturing) tells us.

Bentley engineers and designers aimed to make the sedan’s hybrid version nearly identical to the gasoline-powered model in order to avoid overwhelming customers as the brand begins its journey toward electrification. The only noticeable changes to the iconic exterior are the new “hybrid” badging and an extra “fuel” door on the rear left-hand fender, concealing the electric charging port. Otherwise, it’s classic Bentley grandeur—inside and out. “Everybody would describe it as understated luxury, not as ostentatious luxury,” Bosch continues. “Automotive design experts would say the proportions are close to perfect.”

Bentley develops its colors and materials based on fashion and luxury leather brands, offering 64 standard exterior colors in addition to its customized palette. That’s more options than any other automaker—Teslas come in five colors, while BMW provides a choice of 50. “Our color development studio is a candy shop for accessory lovers,” Bosch says.

Factoring in all of the interior color and material choices, the Flying Spur Hybrid can be specked in an astounding 56 billion combinations. (For reference, there are 1.6 million possible combinations for another hotly anticipated car, the fifth-generation 2022 Range Rover SV.) The team at Bentley has noticed an uptick in customization over the last couple of years. “A Bentley is not something that you pick off the shelf,” Bosch says.

On our test drive, we’re in an Azure Purple model that stands out in Los Angeles, as it skillfully weaves along the Pacific Coast Highway and climbs the canyons between Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara to make it up to the Glass House—a pristine aerie that sits high in the hills, and the kind of home one can imagine a Bentley driver owning.

The trip through this slice of Southern California is serene. The cabin—which seats four or five people depending upon the configuration—is identical to that inside the gasoline-powered Flying Spur. However, it differs in one crucial way: the hybrid version is quiet enough to silence the LA gridlock. “The sheer power, torque and silence that is possible with an all-electric powertrain is a perfect fit for Bentley brand values,” says Ed Kim, president and chief analyst at AutoPacific. “On the other hand, it’s a very storied and iconic brand whose legacy is tied to gasoline engines—and big V8 engines in particular.” The plug-in hybrid “serves as training wheels” for full electrification. “The owner can plug it in, but doesn’t have to,” he explains. “They don’t have to commit to going all-electric just yet.”

The car’s 410-horsepower powertrain (a 2.9-liter, twin-turbo V6 engine and a 134-horsepower electric motor) is the same as that in the base Porsche Panamera, a corporate cousin under the Volkswagen Group umbrella. The Flying Spur Hybrid boasts a top speed of 177mph, which bests the Bentayga Hybrid SUV’s 158mph max. The Flying Spur Hybrid can travel 25 miles on electric power only, which is sufficient for the average commute. Add a full tank of gas and the car can travel 435 miles before it needs to stop for gas or a charge.

From the attention to detail and expert craftsmanship to the phenomenal number of customizable options, the Flying Spur remains an icon of luxury, and this new hybrid will help Bentley straddle transformation and tradition with aplomb. “If you look at a Bentley, you should always think about a resting beast,” says Bosch. “It’s powerful and, at the same time, very relaxed.”

The Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid will command a 3% price premium over the standard model which starts at just over $200,000 and varies based on customization options chosen.

Images courtesy of Bentley