Written for AROnline
What you see above is a genuine image of the new Bentley. I was wrong on some matters, yet not far off on others. The name, for instance, I got wrong. I suggested in this blog, twelve days ago, that the new car would be called the Eight. I was wrong; another moniker from Bentley's past is to be resurrected; Mulsanne. However, I was right about the technical aspects; it will use the Bentley V8 and sit on a currently bespoke platform; which, it is speculated, will be shared with a future four door Bugatti. I was also wrong about the rear of the car. I had assumed that Bentley would be conservative and stick to the same basic lines as all Bentleys since the T-series; those of a sensible, three box saloon of straight lines - my artist's impression is, for any interested parties, visible in my blog. No, I was barking up the wrong tree. They've gone further back, trying to update the lines of the S Series and Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. I'm not complaining, it works. Except that it doesn't.
You see, Bentley have designed this car, seemingly, after looking at what the kings and queens of bling do to their Continentals. So we have shiny chromed mesh grilles, chromed 21" alloys, and spangly lights. No no no no no, terribly non-U. What we SHOULD have recieved was a grille with chromed slats, smaller, less obvious wheels, and less of the fairy lighting at the front. I accept, daytime running lights are to become mandatory on new cars, which is probably the excuse for the lights. But where are the excuses for the grille and wheels? Bentley had the chance to produce something of breathtaking elegance and restraint, but they've fouled up in the details.
I am not saying I dislike this car. I am not saying I should refuse to buy one. I am saying that the concept is right but the execution has been slightly flawed. But it will grow on me, I'm sure - so long as Bentley offer some more conservative choices of wheel. After all, I saw a pic of a new XJ today in a dark colour which resolved every single criticism I made of it weeks ago. It's just that I expected Bentley to produce a universally and instantaneously likeable car, not something so, I don't know... overt.
Maybe I'm being too harsh. I do like the car; it's certainly the most attractive new shape I've seen in months. But then, it's hardly a new shape, is it?
I'll come back to this car, in two weeks or so, when I'm more used to the shape. Til then I'm not entirely satisfied with what I see.
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
The new big Bentley is due to be unveiled next week, at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in California. Above is my less-than-perfect artist's impression of how I believe the car will look. Speculation is growing as to the new car's name - but Eight seems the most likely given current evidence. Mechanically I can't see it differing too far from the Arnage, and it shares it's platform with a new Bugatti saloon due in the next few years. The interior should be similar to the Continental and the Arnage ranges; offering a more contemporary look than it's predecessor, yet I feel it will differ (albeit not by much) from that of it's cheaper sibling.
On a totally unrelated note, I was at BMC/BL day in Peterborough on Sunday, and I discovered to my immeasurable ecstasy that this blog has an audience (Well, besides those who I make read it). Jonathan Sellars, you made my day by telling me that. It's thus the least I can do to promote your blog in return - for any interested parties, click here.