Bentley YAS Island Drive Event

Luxury anytime on Road, Sea and Air

Bentley Motors hosted a fashionable drive event at the Yas Marina Circuit over a four day period from 5th-8th December. We, at ArabWheels, were present on the first day exclusively for Media. We had the opportunity to have a look and drive the new Continental GTC, GT, Flying Spur and Mulsanne.

In addition, we had the opportunity to have a ride in the historic Bentley EXP2 - the oldest Bentley in the world dated from 1920. We were also flown over Yas Island by helicopter and viewed luxurious yachts. This what Bentley stands for: luxury and lifestyle.

The 1920 Bentley EXP2

Let’s have a flashback to the past when it all started in Europe of the 1920s, when a group of wealthy car enthusiasts known as the Bentley Boys set the motoring world alight with their achievements on one of the world’s most famous racetracks: Le Mans. Together, the Bentley Boys helped to position Bentley as much more than just a car company; it was synonymous with a premium lifestyle choice. Fast forward over 90 years, and this brand ethos is brought right up to date and is very much apparent at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. In the world of motorsport, it is hard to beat a Formula 1 racetrack, and Yas is among the best in the business.

The EXP2 is the second car that Bentley Motors founder, WO Bentley, ever built. The EXP2 chassis was presented at the 1919 British International Motor Show to high acclaim and one year later developed into the Bentley 3 liter Experimental. The original EXP1 is no longer in existence, making EXP2 the oldest surviving Bentley.  Valued at AED 4,297,500 ~ 1,177,400 USD. It is one of the most expensive Bentleys in the world, not because of its luxurious specifications and personalization but because of its historic value: the first British Sports Car.

Like many of the marque’s greatest cars, the EXP2’s history lies in motorsport, and the efforts of French F. Clement, one of the famous Bentley Boys of the 1920s who raced it at Brooklands for the first time on Saturday, May 7th, 1921.

At the event, we were able to take a ride in that iconic EXP2 in an experience of old versus new as it travelled along the Yas Island Circuit.

The Bentley GTC

Fresh from the Dubai Motor Show where it made its Middle East debut, the new Continental GTC was the first opportunity for us to get a real feel for this latest addition to the Bentley line up. In a beautiful hue of breeze the convertible rockets from 0-100 kph in 4.5 seconds. The engine is powered by 567hp and boasts 700 Nm of torque and a Quickshift transmission that improves acceleration response times and cuts shift times to an incredible 200 milliseconds.  The GTC’s chassis, the stiffest of any convertible in the world, provides a firm foundation for suspension control, minimizing scuttle shake and contributing to the GTC’s refined handling.

The GTC interior features luxurious wood and leather craftsmanship, for which Bentley is renowned, alongside class-leading technology such as eight-inch touch-screen infotainment system and zip-code entry navigation, all supported by a 30-gigabyte hard drive.

The Bentley Continental Flying Spur

We jumped to drive the Continental Flying Spur at high speed. Inspired by Bentley’s legendary ‘Speed’ models that first appeared in 1923, the 600 bhp Continental Flying Spur Speed is the most powerful 4-door car ever produced by the British manufacturer. The driving experience and uncompromising performance synonymous with all Bentleys bearing the Speed legend, the Flying Spur Speed returns a range of headline performance figures, including a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 322 km/h.

The Bentley Continental GT

Throughout Bentley’s history, iconic grand tourers have forged the marque’s reputation. In the 1950s the beautiful R-Type Continental set new standards of performance and style. In 2003, Continental GT revolutionized the luxury coupe market, combining supercar performance and dynamism with remarkable everyday practicality. Now, the Continental GT coupe sets even higher standards in every area of design, craftsmanship and engineering.

The Bentley Mulsanne

We will go back in 2010 when I first drove the Mulsanne in Edinburgh, Scotland. More than 170 hours which is almost half the entire build process to craft the interior of the Mulsanne; the use of wood and leather hides has been significantly increased for an even more refined and sumptuous cabin, while the stainless steel brightware receives an intensive 10-hour finishing process to offer a near-perfect gleam. The engineers of the Mulsanne created a new grand Bentley that would stand as the pinnacle of British luxury motoring, offering the world’s most exclusive driving experience. They responded to this challenge with real passion and the result is a luxury grand tourer that sets new standards in terms of comfort, effortless performance and hand-crafted refinement; the very qualities for which Bentley is renowned.

With experts on hand to teach us how to get the most from the cars on the Yas Island Circuit the next decision was which vehicle to try among the Mulsanne and the GT.

Verdict

Whether on land, at sea or in the air, all of these advanced machines represent the pinnacle of luxury, performance and refinement. They are the present and hint at the future. The world has changed a lot since the Bentley Boys cherished their grip on Bentley steering wheels all those decades ago. But if this road, sea and air event in Abu Dhabi is anything to go by, the Bentley experience still holds true to those original principles, something they would all have appreciated had they been alive today.

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