• First Drive: 2015 Bentley Flying Spur V8 [Review]

    June 14, 2014
    In the world of super luxury, oneupmanship is the name of the game. Strange, then, that Bentley would decide to offer a down-sized engine in its Flying Spur sedan.

    But that’s just the case for the 2015 model year, with a new V8 model joining the current W12. Curious to see if the Bentley Boys have lost their minds or are simply ahead of the curve, we hopped a plane to London to try out the new 2015 Flying Spur V8 for ourselves.

    More than skin deep
    Although technically the entry point into the Flying Spur’s range, the V8 is hardly outfitted like an entry-level model. Like the Flying Spur W12 that launched for the 2014 model year, the 2015 Flying Spur V8 comes with all-new bodywork, a re-worked interior and a revised suspension.

    Admittedly the 2015 Flying Spur’s sheet metal doesn’t look radically different from the previous model’s, but think of this big sedan in the same vein as the Porsche 911 – updated for the trained eye.

    Up front those subtle changes include revised headlights with LED elements, a new fascia intended to make the car look lower and wider, a flush-mounted grille and front fenders with more sculpting. The sides of the Flying Spur have been treated to fender vents, pronounced character lines along the sills and a lower roofline intended to give a whiff of coupe styling.

    The changes at the rear of the car are the most noticeable, with the 2015 Flying Spur V8 receiving a more squared-off trunk-line, redesigned bumper, updated taillights and figure-eight tailpipes signifying the V8 underhood. Bentley logos with red centers also identify the V8 model.

    Highlights from the 2015 Flying Spur V8′s interior include an updated steering wheel, redesigned center stack and new seats. Despite a $20,000 discount, the Flying Spur V8′s interior comes spec’d to the same level as the W12 model, including extensive sound deadening, 10 square meters of real wood and 14 bull hides. In all, the 2015 Flying Spur V8 boasts over 600 new interior parts.

    Beneath all that style and luxury, Bentley has re-engineered the Flying Spur V8′s chassis and fitted the sedan with a new suspension to provide a softer and more compliant ride. To complement that suspension work, Flying Spur V8 rides on tires with taller sidewalls than before.

    More of the Flying Spur is made from light-weight aluminum for 2015, so the car’s overall curb weight is down about 110 pounds.

    Make no bones about it — the 2015 Flying Spur V8 is a new generation, not just a mid-cycle update.

    Four-liter heart
    Of course the biggest story behind the 2015 Flying Spur is the addition of a new Volkswagen-sourced V8.

    Similar to the unit found in some Audi models, the Flying Spur’s V8 displaces 4.0L and uses advanced technologies like turbocharging, direct-injection and cylinder deactivation. Total output stands at 500 horsepower and 488 lb-ft of torque, or 116 horsepower and 102 lb-ft short of the optional W12.

    Like the Flying Spur W12, the V8 routes power to all four wheels through a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission. That all-wheel drive system defaults to a 40/60 front/rear power split, but up to 65 percent of the engine’s power can be sent to the front axle and 85 percent to the rear, depending on traction conditions.

    Although probably not a major concern for most Bentley buyers, the V8 is a bit thriftier than its W12 counterpart. The eight-cylinder Flying Spur returns 14/24mpg city/highway whereas the W12 can only muster 12/20mpg.

    Flying Spur still flies
    Any concerns of the Flying Spur V8 being underpowered quickly dissolved as we broke free from London’s infamous morning traffic.

    Bury the gas pedal in the Flying Spur’s shag pile carpet and the 5,341 pound luxury barge takes off with the kind of immediacy typically reserved for much smaller sport sedans. Bentley says the Flying Spur V8 can hustle from 0-60 in 4.9 seconds and carry on to a top speed of 183mph.

    Although you do give up some speed by opting for the V8 instead of the W12, the smaller-engined Flying Spur does have its benefits. For one, the exhaust note of the V8 is much more aurally satisfying than the somewhat odd baritone of the twelve-cylinder engine. The V8 is pretty much dead quiet during steady state cruising, but comes to life with a proper burble during hard acceleration.

    The V8 also takes some weight off the Flying Spur’s nose, so steering is just a hair sharper. The Flying Spur V8 won’t trick you into thinking it’s a sports car, but the new suspension – which offers four different settings from sport to comfort – does a remarkably good job of keeping the car flat during tight cornering. Just be sure that the lid is back on the Grey Poupon before you start tearing up the back roads.

    Comforts galore
    After a full day of negotiating country roads barely wide enough to contain the Flying Spur’s 6.5-foot-wide frame, we were happy to climb into the sedan’s rear quarters where we could relax and enjoy its luxurious appointments.

    More comfortable than our home couch, the Flying Spur’s back seat – which can be configured as a bench or as two individual seats – is fully adjustable and offers heated, cooled and massage functions. Once settled in, you can access the Flying Spur’s optional rear entertainment system via Bentley’s smartphone-like Touch Screen Remote (TSR). In addition to controlling audio and video functions, the TSR also doubles as an instrument repeater, so you can keep an eye on just how fast Jeeves is driving.

    The entertainment package also comes with in-vehicle Wi-Fi.

    But our attention quickly turned from the dual 10-inch LCD screens to the fine craftsmanship that surrounded us. Virtually every surface in the Flying Spur is covered in butter-soft leather and not a single hand-laid stitch is out of place – the attention to detail in the Flying Spur is truly staggering. Throw in a suspension that’s like riding on a magic carpet and we’d almost rather be sitting in the back seat than behind the wheel. Almost.

    Leftlane’s bottom line
    With the 2015 Flying Spur V8, Bentley has proven that less really can be more.

    Though not as fast as the W12, the Flying Spur V8 makes up for that deficit with a more satisfying soundtrack and a 10 percent savings. No, the Flying Spur V8 isn’t the runt of the range, it’s the pick of the litter.

    2015 Bentley Flying Spur V8 base price, $195,100.

    Photos by Drew Johnson and Bentley.

  • Honda recalls 2013 Fit; driveshaft prone to failure

    June 14, 2014
    Honda has issued a recall campaign for its 2013 Fit after discovering a problem with the driveshaft.

    Some vehicles equipped with a manual transmission may have been assembled with a passenger-side driveshaft that did not receive the proper heat treatment procedure, leaving the metal weak and prone to failure.

    If the driveshaft separates while driving, the vehicle would lose power and coast to a stop. The problem could also cause a parked vehicle to move unexpectedly if the shaft is fractured.

    The company suggests a weak driveshaft may be most likely to fail when accelerating from a stop, increasing the risk of a crash, though no crashes or injuries have been officially tied to the issue.

    The campaign includes 1,038 vehicles manufactured from May 24, 2013, through July 5, 2013. Vehicles will be brought in for inspection and driveshaft replacement if necessary.

  • 2015 Ford Mustang configurator comes online

    June 14, 2014

    Ford has fired up the configurator for the 2015 Mustang fastback (coupe) and convertible, providing an in-depth look at official pricing and options information ahead of the redesigned pony car’s launch this fall.

    The entry-point to the 2015 Mustang range, the V6 fastback equipped with the six-speed manual, will start from $24,425 (including destination), as a leaked dealer order guide revealed last month. Dropping the top adds $5,500 to the bottom line, bringing the MSRP to $29,925 for the V6 convertible.

    The mid-level fastback EcoBoost commands $25,995, while the EcoBoost Premium is priced from $29,995 and $35,495 for fastback and convertible models, respectively.

    For those wanting V8 power, the fastback GT will lighten wallets to the tune of $32,925; the fastback GT Premium starts from $36,925 and the convertible GT Premium nets $42,425.

    All Mustang models come standard with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, a rearview camera and Sync with MyFord.

    Highlights from the options list, which approaches Atlas Shrugged in length, include a six-speed automatic transmission ($1,150), voice-activated navigation ($750), Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Mitigation ($1,195) and Recaro sports seats ($1,595).

    Enthusiasts will want to tick off the box for the EcoBoost Performance Package ($1,995), which adds a 3.55 limited slip rear axle, heavy-duty front springs, strut-tower bar, larger rear sway bar, unique chassis tuning, larger brake rotors with four-piston calipers, an upsized radiator, reprogrammed EPAS and ABS stability systems, an aluminum dash panel, a gauge pack displaying oil pressure and boost, spoiler delete and 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels.

    The GT Performance Package ($2,495) includes much of the above, as well as a 3.73 Torsen rear axle, a K-Brace and Brembo six-piston front calipers with larger rotors.

    For more details, head over to the configurator – we highly recommend building a Mustang or three for research purposes.

  • Ford’s 2015 Explorer brings sportier trim package, new colors

    June 14, 2014
    Ford is set to launch a few minor changes to its Explorer lineup for the 2015 model year, which is mostly a carryover from 2014.

    The most notable addition is a new appearance package for the Explorer XLT that is inspired by the more expensive Explorer Sport model. The new package brings new Magnetic Metallic 20-inch wheels with painted pockets, along with a matching grille and mirror caps.

    On the interior, occupants are treated to leather-trimmed and heated front seats with Miko suede inserts, Sync with MyFord Touch, two 4.2-inch color LCD displays in the instrument cluster, and an eight-inch touchscreen in the center stack.

    Customers asked for more and this is our answer,” said Explorer brand manager Matt Zuehlk. “We know consumers love the look of Explorer Sport; with this package, you get that for Explorer XLT. It looks bold and rugged, and offers impressive technology at a surprising value.”

    The company has also added new 18-inch aluminum wheels as a standard feature for the base model. Customers can also choose from three new colors: Bronze Fire Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Caribou Metallic and Magnetic Metallic.

  • McLaren teases track-only P1 GTR with 986 horsepower

    June 14, 2014

    McLaren has revealed more details surrounding its track-only P1, which will be named the P1 GTR in homage to the legendary F1 GTR that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans two decades ago.

    The limited-run model will enter production after the 375th example of the street-legal P1 has been completed, redesigned and developed as the “best drivers’ car in the world on track” without the limitations necessitated by road legislation.

    This will see even greater levels of performance, grip, aerodynamics and downforce than the road car,” the company boasts. “It will also feature technologies and a powertrain more extreme with an intended power output of 1,000PS (986 bhp), race-proven slick tyres, a widened track and more aggressive and distinctive styling designed to offer optimised performance around a lap.”

    The company suggests it decided to make a track-only P1 in reaction to demand from P1 owners, some of which are willing to pay for an even higher-performing variant of the $1.15 million supercar.

    The P1 GTR program will cost £1.98m (~$3.35 million USD) and includes a personalized training program, access to one of the McLaren racing simulators, and participation in at least six international drive events held at Formula 1 circuits.

    The company has not yet confirmed a launch window for the P1 GTR, though it promises that production numbers will be strictly limited when the car does arrive on the market.