A week ago, Monday at the Detroit Auto Show, Bentley had their press conference to unveil the gorgeous new Bentley GT Speed Convertible—the world’s fastest four-seat convertible. Top-down touring, the new GT Speed offers mind-bending, twin-turbocharged, 6.0-liter W12 with 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, and goes from zero to 60 in 4.6 seconds while delivering a 15 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency. The close-ratio eight-speed transmission, retuned and lowered suspension and more responsive steering gives Bentley a performance edge in its rarified world. It’s a performance beast with 21-inch wheels and detail honed to the max––not surprising considering it’s price and that its parent company is Volkswagen a company that has always been at the top of the automotive interiors game. Permanent all-wheel drive ensures optimum traction and power delivery whatever the road conditions. Bentley sales are up 22 percent over 2011. They delivered 8,510 cars globally, 2, 315 in the U.S.
I was following along the description of the car in all of its craftsmanship and perfection while calculating the monthly payments on a (pricing and launch to be announced but let’s say $200,000+) car (Or I could just pay cash) when I heard Bentley Chairman and Chief Executive Dr Wolfgang Schreiber say that this was a car that functioned perfectly for everyday-driving. My everyday driving is usually accompanied by deciding between Shoprite and Price Chopper because X brand is a few cents cheaper at one or the other. But, I love irony. So I tweeted the comment.
The next morning, I was grabbing a danish and cup of coffee before I began my ten-hour drive back to New York. There was only one gentleman in the alcove at the time. Fit, sandy-haired, a craggy-faced presence. I asked him if he was here for the auto show. “Yes,” he said in a British accent,” I’m here with Bentley." I shared my skepticism about the everyday-driver business.
“It is an everyday driver,” he shot back. “I use my car for errands and around town. And I’m not just saying that because I represent Bentley. It’s a car that’s extremely capable and yet very easy to drive.” He lives a mile or so from Goodwood, where Rolls Royce’s are built, yet drives a Bentley.
I didn’t know who this man was, but I had the clear impression that he knew what he was talking about. Duh. I was talking to Derek Bell, the racing champion who has won LeMans five times, the Daytona 24 three times and the World Sportscar Championship twice. His son, Justin Bell, is also a race car driver.
“I’m sorry," I said, "I should know who you are.” “No you shouldn’t," he replied. Isn’t that just bit different from today’s needy celebrities? But what an appropriate response for someone who represents and classy, understated brand like Bentley.