The third-generation Bentley Flying Spur is now available with a 4.0 litre V8 powertrain, as an alternative to the iconic W12 engine that it was launched with last year. Crewe says that the new Flying Spur V8 offers a more driver-centric experience via increased agility and a more characterful engine note, whilst benefiting from increased range and lower CO2 emissions.

The V8 making an appearance in the Flying Spur was a matter of time, as the twin-turbo engine is already present in the Continental GT and Bentayga. In fact, the latter SUV – which facelift appeared in July – is now only available with the V8, and those who want the 6.0 litre W12 will have to wait for the upcoming performance Speed model.

As for the sedan in range, Bentley’s findings from the last 10 years show a significant shift from chauffeur-driven owners to customers driving themselves with passengers accompanying them. Global research, including two customer clinics in USA and China, also demonstrated that over 40% of customers travel with rear seat passengers at least once a week. This data has been used to develop the latest iteration of the new “four door grand tourer” (they called the FS a “super-luxury sports sedan” at launch), focusing on the driver experience whilst retaining a cabin that combines luxury with the latest tech.

Lets jump straight into the heart of the vehicle. Bentley’s 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8 produces 550 PS and max torque of 770 Nm at just under 2,000 rpm, maintaining this as a flat plateau to 4,500 rpm. The twin-scroll turbos have two separate, parallel flow channels in the turbine housing for high torque at low speeds. They’re located inside the ‘V’ of the engine, minimising the distance the exhaust gases travel for faster response.

To withstand higher stress and bore wear, the cylinder bores are iron coated using an atmospheric plasma spraying process creating a coating that is robust yet just 150 microns thick, Bentley says.

Paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the V8 propels the Flying Spur from 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 318 km/h. That’s not a lot slower than the W12-powered version, which does both benchmarks in 3.8 seconds and 333 km/h. Compared to the similarly-powered Continental GT, the larger limo is just a tenth slower to 100 km/h and top speed is identical.

Crewe says that the 90-degree ‘V configuration, cross-plane crankshaft and eight perfectly balanced cylinders give the engine its “characteristic and unmistakable V8 engine sound”.

To maximise fuel economy, the V8 can shut down four of its cylinders under light loads, when torque demand is below 235 Nm and engine speed is below 3,000 rpm. The change is imperceptible to the occupants, Bentley says, with deactivation times of around 20 milliseconds (by the way, that’s a tenth of the time it takes to blink your eyes). The result is up to 16% better fuel economy.

Of course, the V8 is lighter than the W12 engine, and this brings overall weight down by 100 kg, which Crewe says makes the FS feel more agile and responsive, with a distinctive personality of its own. Adaptive Air Suspension, Torque Vectoring by Brake, Drive Dynamics Control and Electric Steering are standard, while Bentley Dynamic Ride and Electronic All-Wheel Steering are options.

Bentley Dynamic Ride is the firm’s pioneering 48-volt electric active anti-roll control system. It controls ride comfort and lateral roll, cushioning passengers from excessive movement through decoupling of the wheels across the axles, with the ability to then apply up to 1,300 Nm of anti-roll torque in 0.3 seconds when cornering to keep the body flat and stable.

The air suspension uses three-chamber air springs, which contain 60% more air volume compared to the previous-gen Flying Spur. This allows more scope to vary from sporting levels of spring stiffness to limo ride comfort depending on the drive mode.

Electronic All-Wheel Steering works to enhance both stability at highway speeds and manoeuvrability around town. During low-speed manoeuvres, the system steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels. This has the effect of shortening the wheelbase, reducing the turning circle, increasing agility and making parking easier. At high speeds, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels, increasing stability and making overtaking and lane-changes more assured.

The latest Flying Spur is a gorgeous blend of Bentley’s signature design and athleticism, and the V8 looks identical to the W12 except for some small details such as the V8 wing badge and quad exhaust pipes. The latter has two tips within each side’s oval – the W12 just has two ovals. 20-inch 10-spoke alloys are standard, but you can have your pick of rims.

There are seven paint colours to choose from, but customers can specify their limo from the additional extended paint range of over 60 colours, including Mulliner and personal commission. New to this generation of Flying Spur is the optional Blackline specification, which swaps the exterior’s shiny bits with black ones. This includes a dark version of the optional illuminated electric Flying B emblem. There’s even a Styling Specification carbon fibre bodykit!

The word exquisite is used a little too freely these days, but the Flying Spur’s cabin is worthy of the word – it’s both classically luxurious and high-tech at the same time.

Sweeping horizontal veneer flows across the dashboard and into the doors. Crown Cut Walnut is offered as standard, and there are a further seven veneer species to choose from, plus a High Gloss Carbon Fibre technical finish, if you’re into all things CF. Dual veneer finish is available along with Côtes de Genève for the front centre console. That’s “Geneva stripes” – watch guys will know it from their automatic rotor finishing.

Fascination points include the cool Bentley Rotating Display, which rotates between a 12.3-inch touchscreen, a panel with three analogue dials (outside temperature, compass and chronometer), and a plain “digital detox” wood veneer fascia that seamlessly matches the rest of the dash trim.

In the rear, the Touch Screen Remote integrates almost invisibly into the console but is easily removed at the touch of a button. This phone-like touchscreen unit allows the boss to control everything from the window blinds and seat massage function, to calling out/hiding the Flying B on the bonnet.

Desirable options include Rear Seat Entertainment tablets, the Naim for Bentley sound system and a two-bottle drinks cooler behind the rear centre armrest. The latter has two levels of cooling from +6°C to -6°C, and the ability to accommodate six canned soft drinks or two full sized (750 ml) champagne bottles.

Customers can also specify the Flying Spur with four seats – do so and you’ll get a long full cabin console with extra stowage and charging points. While you’re at it, how about electrically-operated picnic tables, sir?

Also check out the W12-powered Flying Spur in Malaysia, as well as our gallery-commentary of all three generations of the Bentley limo.

GALLERY: Bentley Flying Spur V8

GALLERY: Bentley Flying Spur W12 in Malaysia