“Get to Bentley’s for about 10, there’s a Mulsanne demonstrator to deliver to somewhere near Evesham between two and two thirty.” Over four hours to do just sixty miles or so from the East Midlands to Worcestershire?? Since this was going to be an executive sort of day, I sort of made an executive decision and went along to Leicester’s Bentley (and Lamborghini) dealer at about 10.30. This was early last October but weather-wise it was still summer. I had not driven a current Bentley before, so I asked the salesman to give me a quick tour round the black Mulsanne which sat gleaming in the sunshine. Funnily enough, things like the sat nav and Bluefang worked much like any other car. It’s just that the setting was different. Acres of black, diamond-stitched leather, swathes of dark wood veneer and highly polished chrome detailing.
But this was not your common-or-garden, ten-a-penny Bentley Mulsanne. Oh no. [Warning: techy bit coming up.] Not content with catapulting the 2.7 ton, 5.6 metre mobile gentlemen’s club to 60mph in a sedate 5.1 seconds, Bentley added a few horses to the 6.75 litre twin turbo V8. The resulting Mulsanne Speed gets to 60mph in a snappier 4.8 seconds and on to a 190mph maximum. Descending to the mundane and putting my sensible hat on, I was surprised at how modestly sized the boot was for such a big car. That explains why you don’t see many quarter of a million pound Mulsannes at the local tip, disposing of garden refuse and old mattresses. I knew there was a good reason.
The salesman reiterated that the car was not to be delivered before 2pm. So I used the dealership’s facilities at least twice – a) to kill a bit of time and b) to have a nose at the Lamborghini’s at the far end of the showroom. Then I was staring down the Mulsanne’s long bonnet at the winged Bentley “B” as it nosed its way at walking pace out of the dealership. Well, there was simply no point in hurrying. Having already set the sat nav to somewhere near Evesham, it appeared that I had more than two and a half hours to do a journey that should take just over an hour. I was soon on to the A46 and then the motorway, so I set the cruise control at 65mph instead of the usual 70. Isn’t it ironic – I was in the fastest car I had ever driven on the road and ended up driving even more slowly than normal as I pondered what to do to kill more time.
Putting my pondering to one side, I had toyed with the idea of inventing a new verb to describe driving the Bentley: “to serene”. As in: “I serened here, I serened there, I serened to somewhere near Evesham”. It could also be used transitively: “the Mulsanne serened me to somewhere near Evesham.” But then I remembered how much I detest it when athletes say “to medal”. So, dear reader, to allow me to stick to my principles, please erase this paragraph from your memory.
Of course the Mulsanne was whisper quiet. The only time it bared its teeth was on the motorway when the adaptive cruise control automatically slowed us down as we approached a vehicle up ahead. I then pulled out and let the cruise control accelerate at its own chosen rate back to the pre-set speed of 70mph (yes, I had given up with 65mph – it just felt too slow!). The Bentley’s chosen rate of acceleration was rather brisk and it was accompanied by a wonderful growl from the V8. (I put that bit in to keep petrol heads happy but actually it did sound good!)
I soon fell off the end of the motorway on to A roads. Initially straight ones, then more countrified, bendy ones. The Bentley purred along in a supremely relaxing way and I had only the vaguest awareness of its weight when negotiating the bends. So relaxing was it, that I couldn’t imagine why anyone would actually want to exploit that savage performance. It would seem a bit vulgar to tear along like a lunatic in such a stately conveyance. I guess Bentley owners just like to know that the performance is there if they need it.
By this time, the sat nav was telling me that I was quite near to somewhere near Evesham. My earlier pondering about what to do had initially been at the back of my mind. Now it had shot firmly to the forefront of my brain (I think this happened when I braked sharply due to a very low flying pigeon). Where could I while away an hour or so? Where could I park the pristine Mulsanne safely, free from the threat of other car doors and supermarket trolleys? Where could I eat my sandwiches? Where could I avail myself of some convenient facilities? Will I find be able to find somewhere near Evesham? Will I be able to resist the temptation to turn unsuspecting adjectives into verbs? Why on earth is this post called “Middle Earth and Back ….” etc?
All these questions and more will be answered in Part 2 of “Middle Earth and Back in a Bentley Mulsanne (and an Audi A6 Allroad BiTurbo)”. Watch this space – around the middle of next week.