Bentley’s new Flying Spur luxury saloon has confirmed the British car brand’s status as designer of the world’s finest car interiors
Bentley owns materials, textures, colours and craftsmanship. It has also made great strides in sustainability recently: Bentley’s factory in the north of England has just been declared carbon neutral, with everything from 30,000 solar panels to beehives producing Bentley honey.
The new Flying Spur, launched in Monte Carlo this month, is the latest showcase for all that the artisans from the Crewe workshops can accomplish. Take, for example, the wood veneers available. Bentley employs the fabulously named global veneer hunters, whose job is to travel the world, gathering woods from sustainable sources. Each grain must pass through the fastidious approval of Bentley, and as such a new veneer is a rarer thing than a new Bentley model, with one roughly every five years. Each sheet of wood in a car comes from the same tree, to ensure the pattern and colour remains the same throughout the car. A Bentley wood specialist views 25,000 square metres of veneer in its raw form during selection, a process that takes two days. In one concept car recently put on display, the wood was taken from trees felled 5,000 years ago and submersed in British peat bogs, then infused with copper to give it a metallic warmth.
The dashboard running the width of the car can be specified in one veneer or split horizontally with two woods or contrasting materials. Veneers are given wonderful names such as Crown Cut Walnut, Liquid Amber and Dark Fiddleback. Liquid Amber, a bright yellow hue with a strong dark grain running through it, is sourced from the American Red Gum tree which grows along the Mississippi wetlands. You can even specify a stone veneer now; Bentley offers one sourced from slate and quartzite in Rajasthan quarries. The stone is then cured using glass fibre and a bespoke resin.
As for the leather, about 13 bull hides go into a Flying Spur (female cow hides can’t be used, due to the possibility of stretch marks from pregnancy). There are 2.8km of thread in the stitching of every car, and in each of the jewel-like LED headlamps, there are 82 individual LEDs reflect in the cut crystal.
You can choose to have one colour for your leather, or multiple contrasting tones, including on the steering wheel. The most staggering new design work inside the Flying Spur, however, is a 3D diamond leather quilting. The hide on the doors is lifted into a diamond pattern, without any stitching, which is strong at the start of the door and fades to a smooth surface as it nears the hinges. The result is a terrifically contemporary feel to the cabin, and one unseen before. Mulliner, Bentley’s in-house bespoke division, can even replicate the effect in solid wood, and offers it on an open-pore walnut surface.
Even the connectivity in the Flying Spur has a Bentley flourish to it. The infotainment screen is presented on one side of a Toblerone-shaped rotating display. Press the “screen” button and the system rotates from digital screen to three traditional analogue dials showing outside temperature, a compass and a chronometer. Press it again, and you are presented with a continuation of the blank fascia, for a total digital detox: a bold and progressive statement of intent from this luxury manufacturer.