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A mule of the next-generation Bentley Flying Spur luxury sedan has been spotted undergoing extreme cold weather testing.

The new Flying Spur sedan, as well as the next-generation Continental coupe and convertible, will shift from their current front- and all-wheel drive platform, shared with the departed Volkswagen Phaeton, to the MSB component matrix for rear- and all-wheel drive cars.

Developed by Porsche, the MSB platform made its debut with the second-generation Panamera, hence this prototype’s stretched and disfigured body.

bentley-flying-spur-mule-spy-4-side

Thanks to the car’s bolt-on temporary wheel arch extensions we can see that the new Flying Spur will be slightly wider than the 1937mm Panamera.

The prototype also features an exceptionally long set of rear doors, and a lengthened roof line, suggesting that the Flying Spur will be even longer than the long wheelbase Panamera Executive, which has 5199mm overall length and a 3100mm wheelbase.

Developed primarily for the USA and China, the Panamera Executive isn’t sold in Australia.

For reference, today’s Flying Spur is 5299mm long, 1984mm wide, 1488mm tall, and rides on a 3066mm wheelbase.

bentley-flying-spur-mule-spy-15-rear

The shift to the MSB platform will make the designers’ task easier, and bring about handling benefits, but should also result in a lighter car. Thanks to the use of high-strength steel and aluminium, and, possibly, the ditching of the standard all-wheel drive system, the new Flying Spur should be lighter than today’s 2475kg vehicle.

It’s likely that the new Flying Spur and Continental ranges will use Porsche’s latest 404kW/770Nm direct-injection 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. Range-topping variants should feature an updated version of Bentley’s 6.0-litre W12.

bentley-flying-spur-mule-spy-1-grille

The new Flying Spur will probably make its debut in either late 2018 or early 2019. The related Continental coupe and GTC cabrio have already been spied wearing production bodies, and are expected to make their debuts towards the end of 2017.

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