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2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid

2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid

    Bentley’s Flying Spur Hybrid is another step for the brand to electrify its lineup by 2030. It started with the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid in 2021, which was then followed by this Flying Spur Hybrid. If the British automaker’s statement of intent is anything, we also expect the Continental GT coupe and convertible to follow suit with plug-in hybrid and electric variants. Bentley also announced that it will release a fifth new model before 2030.

    But the brand known for making luxury cars has some special considerations to keep in mind, which are keeping the cabin noise down and the ride smooth. And they’ve used some impressive techniques to take on those in the Flying Spur. Here’s how they did it.

    Trevor Raab

    bentley flying offshoot hybrid

    Trevor Raab

    Stepping-stone hybrid powertrain

    Bentley’s all-new hybrid V6 powertrain deviates a bit from the norm; unlike the more shocking V8 and W12 configurations available, the petrol V6 hybrid changes silently. The luxury British carmaker is still proud of the efficiency gains – 20mpg (combined) compared to 17.5 in the V8 – but also made a point to mention the benefits in terms of quietness. “From the start, we said this would be one of the most refined Bentleys ever,” said John O’ Sullivan, Functional Manager, Chassis NVH & Structural Dynamics at Bentley Motors. Powered by an 18 kWh lithium-ion battery, the hybrid system can propel the vehicle for just over 24 miles in all-electric mode.

    bentley flying offshoot hybrid

    Trevor Raab

    “We said from the start that this would be one of the most refined Bentleys ever.”

    Using electric power alone, the hybrid system can deliver up to 134 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Being a true hybrid, the e-motor and internal combustion, when working together, can swing the Flying Spur to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds — eventually propelling the 5,600-pound beast to 177 mph. This is also made possible by the vehicle’s four-wheel drive. While the new engine remains spick and span, it presents unique challenges when it comes to interior acoustics.

    Sound insulation

    The Flying Spur Hybrid is 50 percent quieter at 80 km/h compared to the V8 thanks to the all-electric drive mode. “We’ve left out one of the main sound sources, which helps, but then of course other sounds become apparent,” says O’ Sullivan. One of the loudest is the hum of the electric motor; these noises are different from the grumbles of an internal combustion, as they are much higher – which, according to Bentley’s engineers, can be annoying.

    bentley flying offshoot hybrid

    Trevor Raab

    There are actually two different types of noise that need to be minimized: noise coming through the structure of the car and noise coming through the air. To reduce the amount of noise the vehicle produces, Bentley strategically equipped the Flying Spur Hybrid with sound-damping material to dampen the “bad” noises, using everything from foam to a thick fleece. O’ Sullivan said they had to be strategic with where they placed these materials to avoid over-engineering the car and adding too much weight.

    That’s all well and good, but you need to find sounds to eliminate them. O’ Sullivan says this starts with computer simulation software that can predict where sound might come from. Once the computer models are delivered, the engineering team must conduct a series of noise tests to validate that data. These tests are all completed in a anechoic chamber, which isolates all other background noise outside the car. Interestingly, the engineering team also mentioned that the respective cockpits of the V8 and W12 models are “tuned” differently than the V6 Hybrid. That’s because the V8 and W12 powertrains are not only louder than the V6 hybrid, they also produce a much lower frequency noise.

    Dynamic ride height control

    bentley flying offshoot hybrid

    Trevor Raab

    bentley flying offshoot hybrid

    Trevor Raab

    The luxury driving experience is often all about disconnecting the driver from the road ahead. Besides the concern that a minor impact could knock your glass of Möet & Chandon out of your hand, these light shocks are generally just uncomfortable. Some vehicles (including the Lincoln Aviator we drove last year) use a system of cameras that scan the road ahead. However, other cars, like this Flying Spur, have accelerometers in the suspension to detect bumps when they roll over them. In fact, it takes the vehicle just 10 milliseconds to respond to a bump and adjust the suspension settings in all four corners accordingly. Example: If it detects a wheel going over a bump, it can soften the spring rate to cope.

    The suspension system can also actively adjust ride height. O’ Sullivan says that most road cars lift up at the front when traveling at high speed, leading to instability — all because the force of the air lifts the front wheels off the ground. However, as the Flying Spur accelerates, it lowers the front end to counteract this, keeping you planted and maintaining efficiency.

    Now that you know that the suspension can automatically react so quickly, you may be curious how it does that exactly. This is all made possible by the fact that the Flying Spur uses air suspension. This means that instead of a set of springs and dampers, it essentially uses an air bladder to control the car’s ride. Valves on the inside of the shock can increase or decrease the amount of air inside. In this way, the vehicle can change the spring rate, damping and ride height during the flight.

    The result

    Bentley’s Flying Spur Hybrid is the last word when it comes to luxury. Thanks to its innovative hybrid powertrain, noise reduction and suspension, it is a vehicle that is quiet, comfortable and surprisingly fast. All that tech comes at a price: $200,825. But it would be hard to find something more opulent, comfortable and relaxing.

    Matt Crisara
    Matt Crisara is a native Texan with an unbridled passion for cars and motorsports, both abroad and domestically, and as Autos Editor for Popular Mechanics, he writes the bulk of automotive digital and print coverage.

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