Bentley is on a roll at the moment, having found its mojo with bruising cars capable of crossing continents without breaking a sweat. As more traditional versions of the Continental and Flying Spur have found their feet, the team at Crewe has been given freedom to explore their sporting heritage. Take the new Flying Spur W12 S. It looks reasonably sedate on the outside, but the fire-breathing engine under the hood makes it the first four-door Bentley able to top 200 mph (322 km/h).
The Flying Spur W12 S's impressive turn of speed comes from a small helping of extra power. Under the hood is a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12, boosted from 616 hp to 626 hp (459 kW to 467 kW). Although the 800-Nm (590-lb-ft) standard engine didn't really need it, there's also 20 Nm (15 lb-ft) more torque available from just 2,000 RPM.
Thanks to the inflated outputs, 100 km/h (62 mph) is reached in just 4.5 seconds. From there, it keeps on pulling all the way to 202 mph (325 km/h), making the W12 S the first four-door Bentley to crack to 200 mph ceiling. Keeping all the power in check is all-wheel drive running a 40/60 front/rear split.
As well as all-wheel drive, Bentley has fitted a stiffer suspension setup and looser stability control to let drivers make the most of the W12. Carbon ceramic brakes are on the options list, but should really be standard fare considering the car's heft and impressive turn of speed.
In spite of its pace, there's not a lot setting the W12 S apart from regular Flying Spurs. Aside from unique badging, darker detailing and trim around the exterior makes for a slightly more menacing look, but there's no escaping the fact this is still a stately manor on wheels. There are two unique wheel designs available, too, working with specially painted brake callipers to create another point of difference.
It's standard Bentley inside, with lots of dark leather and expensive trim pieces. Contrast stitching and quilted seats work to make things feel a bit sportier, as do a new steering wheel and gearshift paddles. Down back, passengers are looked after with a touchscreen remote to manage infotainment and climate control, and a wireless hotspot caters to those looking to work at high speed.
Deliveries of the Flying Spur W12 S will start at the end of 2016, but we'll be sure to check it out at the Paris Motor Show later this month.