Test Drive: 2017 Bentley Spur V8 S

Courtesy Bentley

This sporty new model from the luxury British carmaker gets some special, supercar-style updates—inside and out.

The English have arrived at General George Washington’s headquarters. I’m in a new 2017 Bentley Spur V8 S parked in front of a small farmhouse in Newburgh, New York, overlooking the Hudson River. It was from this site, known locally as the Hasbrouck House, that Washington directed the American Revolution during his stay from April 1782 to August 1783, the longest the Commander-in-Chief stayed in any one spot during the course of the war.

Washington would flip his powdered wig if he could see the car modern-day Redcoats have mustered: The “S” is a sportier version of the Flying Spur V8 and it’s the one to have if you prefer to drive rather than be chauffeured. Performance-wise, everything is tweaked to get a little bit more out of the car: The twin-turbocharged engine, married to an 8-speed automatic transmission, produces 528 horsepower and a top speed of 190 miles per hour, putting the vehicle just a shade under the 200 mph limit generally used to define supercar status. Plus, it’s quick, going from zero to 60 in 4.6 seconds. The exterior design hints at the performance inside with a “power” line that runs from the front wheel arch along the car’s flanks and a sportier-looking black grille.

With all that muscle under the hood, I’m expecting a rocket-like launch that will press me into the seat as I step on the accelerator. But what I get instead is a smooth forward surge that makes me feel like an English monarch ready to unleash the forces of Empire at the wave of an imperial hand. In this instance, that means selecting the sport mode that makes the engine, steering, and suspension more responsive. Yet even in this more aggressive driving posture, the ride remains quietly luxurious thanks to an adaptive air suspension system that smooths out the bumps. From behind the wheel, it feels like everyone else on the road is in a hurry even as I pass them by.


Courtesy Bentley

My destination is another Hasbrouck House (3805 US-209; 845 687-0736; hasbrouckhouseny.com) about 90 minutes west in Stone Ridge, New York. In an area once called New Netherland, the Hasbrouck name is as common as Smith. This one is a splendid 20-room boutique hotel in a renovated Dutch colonial mansion dating from 1757. Despite the property’s glory, I have to be pried out of the car upon arrival—the Flying Spur S is hard to leave: The leather and wood veneers exhibit all the craftsmanship Bentley is justly renowned for—just manipulating the organ-stop air vent controls feels like handling a well-made instrument. A touch screen remote allows control of the car’s climate and infotainment systems. The rear seats are especially inviting with (optional) drop-down tables and a refrigerated cooler. Plus, the Naim music system is among the best I’ve heard anywhere—in or out of a car. With all that, plus Wi-Fi and SD slots for personal devices, the car operates like a fully equipped living room.

I’ve heard that Hasbrouck House employs an exceptional chef, Shawn “Radar” Burnette—a southerner who sources ingredients from farms in the Hudson Valley area and takes special advantage of a restored smokehouse said to be the oldest in the U.S. Only after this lures me out of the Bentley upon arrival do I think to ask if I can order in.

$246,505 as driven; bentleymotors.com.

For more sporty, four-door luxury vehicles, read our review of the Volvo S90, the Infiniti Q50S Hybrid, and the Genesis G60