There are few more exquisite pleasures in life than being behind the wheel of a £200,000 open-topped Bentley, as the sun kisses your forehead and the wind blows through what remains of your locks.
And I was among the first in the world to drive the brand new 207mph Bentley Continental GT Convertible, on a stunning and serpentine mountain road from the Spanish coastal resort of Marbella towards the beautiful city of Seville
It was an epic 275 mile grand tour in this new Bentley convertible capable of an astonishing 207mph at the start of the firm’s landmark centenary year.
And this Bentley also comes with a clever party trick, a James Bond-style revolving dashboard panel that allows drivers to switch between a stylish wood veneer, modern touchscreen controls, or three classic analogue clock dials.
Bentley boss Adrian Hallmark says the British luxury carmaker owned by VW is read for Brexit
‘All our Brexit planning is in place’, says Bentley boss
Bentley, part of the giant German Volkswagen group, said it was proud that the new cabriolet and its engine had been ‘designed, engineered and handcrafted in Britain’.
And the new convertible deserves to be a source of real pride to the 4,500-strong Bentley workforce at Crewe, including the many and growing number of young apprentices learning their craft whether with intricate hand-stitched leathers, wood, engineering or hi-tech digital electronics.
Bentley Motors chairman and chief executive Adrian Hallmark has set out the firm’s path towards ‘full electrification’ of the Bentley range as the firm seeks to shed its gas-guzzler reputation.
Hallmark’s stated aim is to have 100 per cent hybrid or electric power available on all models across the Bentley range by 2025. The new luxury hybrid sets Bentley ’on the path towards a sustainable electrified future,’ he said.
As the UK nears the Brexit deadline of March 29, Mr Hallmark said a ‘hard Brexit’ would be ‘a blow’ but ‘not life-threatening’ to the company owned by Germany’s giant Volkswagen group.
It is putting in place long- and short-term contingency plans to cope and remains ‘fully committed’ to the UK as it celebrates its centenary year. Only 20 per cent of Bentley’s global sales are to Continental Europe so. It has a more balanced spread of sales.
Some 21 per cent is to the USA, 19 per cent to China, 14 per cent remains in the UK and the remaining 16 per cent is exported to the result of the world.
And a century after engineering genius Walter Owen, aka W.O, Bentley founded the firm bearing his name, Mr Hallmark said: ‘All our Brexit planning is in place. The outlook for luxury cars is still positive.’
‘We have been here for 100 years and we will be here for the next 100 years.’