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2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur Full-Size Luxury Sedan

New Car Review of the 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur Full-Size Luxury Sedan

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Base MSRP Range: $180,000

Base Invoice Range: Not Available

MSRP As Tested: Not Available

Versions: Flying Spur

Vehicle Category: Full-Size Luxury Sedan

Engine Location: Front Engine

Drive Wheels: All-Wheel Drive.

Standard Engine: 6.0-liter, Twin turbo, Dual Overhead Cam, 48-valves, W-12, 560 - horsepower at 6100 rpm and 650 lb-ft torque at 1600 rpm.

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 10/22

Transmission: Six-speed Automatic with Tiptronic feature.

Standard Safety Features: SRS airbags including : 2 Frontal airbags, 2 Full-length curtain head airbags, 4 Front and rear seat thorax airbags. Seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiting.

Competition: Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ-Series, Maybach 57, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, Volkswagen Phaeton

Most would consider me an environmentally considerate Californian, recycling cans and bottles, turning the thermostat down, and determined to purchase a hybrid this next year. But today was a departure into guilty pleasures, a test drive of an ultra luxury automobile, an opportunity you just cannot turn down. I put the petal to the metal on a new Bentley Continental Flying Spur.

My husband and I received an invitation to the exclusive area showing of the new Bentley. The RSVP invitation directed us to a historic estate in the Santa Cruz foothills near several small wineries. The test drive included a gourmet catered lunch and a lovely take away gift book about Bentley owners.

The Continental Flying Spur is a beautifully built work of automotive art with amenities and detailing that justifies the $180,000 eye popping price tag. This is a serious automobile that tops out at 5,100 pounds with 552 hp under the hood. The 0-60 mph is a breath taking 4.9 seconds with a top speed of 195 mph making this model the fasted sedan available for the street in the world.

The cabin aroma is of fine leather and the dash is beautifully matched English ash that is custom cut from the same block of wood and matched through out the interior. The body design of aerodynamic flowing sheet metal is unique. The seats are plush yet comfortable and offer every nuance of change to height, tilt, lumbar, heating and cooling plus the ability to add length under the knees and a circulating massage setting to make travel a delight. For protection, the Continental Flying Spur is equipped with a full suite of safety equipment, not to mention highly tuned on board computers in the brakes and engine to compensate and react correctly in any sudden unexpected avoidance maneuver.

On the road trial passing was instantaneous; the 6-litre, twin-turbocharged, 12-cylinder engine gave out a muted roar as I soared up the highway. The variety of tension settings for ride made control very solid as the Spur held the road smoothly. The 405mm ventilated front brakes are the largest available on any passenger car today, braking was smooth but to the point. This is an automobile that is easily capable of cruising at autobahn speeds, so it takes vigilance as a driver not to be seduced into driving outside the limit of posted speeds. All too soon the test drive was over, back to reality, I cooled down and my good senses returned.

On the drive home my husband, the engineer, remarked that Bentley is owned by Volkswagen; the 552 hp engine is, in reality, made up of two conjoined Passat V-6's with turbos, and the chassis was taken from the canceled VW Phaeton. Further he said; we should consider test driving the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid. It's a big, beautiful four door sedan that seats five, gets around 45 MPG costs about $30K. It will do 0 to 60 in 7.5 seconds and tops out at 110 mph. Not Bentley territory, but on our crowded California freeways you will actually arrive at your destination sooner because you can use the commuter lanes when driving a hybrid.

OK, I replied with a long sigh, the Flying Spur is not an environmentally sound investment. I must confess it only averages ten miles to the gallon, is heaver than an SUV and I can't event think about $3,000 extra gas guzzler tax. However, today's test was a rare thrill driving in such custom comfort with unbound luxury and the ability to command the powerhouse under the hood; truly a guilty pleasure!

Pros: It's gorgeous, fast and unique.

Cons: VERY expensive. Gets a paltry 10 mpg.

More Data

Where Built: England

Major Options: Not Available.

Seating: 5.

Number of Rows: 2.

Length in Inches: 208.94

Warranties: Not Available.

Weight in Pounds: 5456 lbs.

Cargo Capacity in Pounds: Not available.

Gross Maximum Vehicle Weight in Pounds: 6428 lbs.

Towing Capacity in Pounds: Not Available.

Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 23.8.

Destination Charge: Not Available.