According to Bentley, the painstaking measures taken to match the acoustics to the particular vehicle are so effective that, even at full system power, only a low level of sound can be heard from outside the car
In July of 1977, Led Zeppelin played its last American concert. But 21 years later, somewhere along the two-lane ribbon of highway that skirts and juts on and off the New Hampshire shoreline, somewhere between a long stretch of open salt marsh and the rocky coast broken by beaches and curving through ancient northern hardwood forests, three guys were jamming to Led Zeppelin’s In My Time of Dying, with a sound so near to a live performance, that as the thunderous percussive might of John Bonham aligned with the rhythm of the Atlantic, a final crash of cymbals was powerful enough to make the little hairs on the back of their necks stand up. It felt as if it were live, but we were in a Bentley!
Before its world debut, we were test-driving the 2009 Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed. The four-door sedan features a sound system—designed in partnership with Naim, the renowned British high-end hi-fi manufacturers—with a 1,100-watt amp (the most powerful in a production car) and up to 15 custom-built speakers. Cutting-edge technology in each system includes Digital Signal Processing and Dynamic Equalization to offer passengers an “as-live” in-car audio experience. To adapt the system to each particular Bentley model, Naim analyzed each car and then designed unique speaker drive units. According to Bentley, the painstaking measures taken to match the acoustics to the particular vehicle are so effective that, even at full system power, only a low level of sound can be heard from outside the car. And we certainly proved them right.
We also had the pleasure of driving with Robin Page, the Flying Spur’s lead designer. It was a lesson in the passion applied to even the tiniest of details, starting with idea pollination. “My first sketch for the interior was a simple line drawing of the Bentley badge graphic,” Paige recalls. “This evolved into the design of the fascia, which echoed the symmetrical wing shape. The wings of the fascia are handcrafted in leather, and then the veneered panels are set into the apertures. As with heritage Bentleys, the jewelry-like switch work is mounted to the veneered panels, therefore keeping the leather surfaces simple and visually clean.” It makes for a sumptuous and spacious cabin. Outside, the new, more upright grille and bolder lower air intake accentuate the distinctive Bentley profile, while a new rear bumper delivers a sleeker and more aggressive appearance. If stares and finger pointing are any indication of this car’s sexy elegance, I saw lots of proof. There was even a thumbs-up from passing motorcyclists. How often does that happen?
As for the ride, nothing short of sweet. The acceleration is cannon-shot quick. The 600 horsepower allows a top speed of 200mph—I went from 55 to 90 with the flick of an ankle. Yet the overall effect is Grand Tourer smooth. The handling is taut and the steering response is nimble. You don’t have to worry about being Danica Patrick; it’s sensational and ultra responsive for the outstanding driver, but isn’t intimidating for the ordinary driver.
But if you love to drive, if you do your best thinking out on the open road, the Flying Spur Speed just might be the one. Flooded with optimal solutions, it’s a wonderful experience. You are in charge of your own fully controlled environment. You listen to your music. You drive through your favorite scenery. By the time you come back, your head can’t help but feel clear. And, really, isn’t that what it’s all about?Available at Bentley Miami
www.bramanmiami.com / 305.571.1205