WEEKLY CAR DIARY – FOOTBALL BOOTS AND BENTLEYS

My wife and I spent this morning watching our son represent Boots in the Corporate Games at six-a-side football (he has a one year work placement at Boots head office as part of his university course). The Corporate Games is a large, multi-sport event and Nottingham is the host city this year. It was the clash of the titans as Boots faced two teams from Asda and one from accountancy firm, Smith Cooper. There should have been a fourth team from Nottinghamshire Police Force but I think someone put in a bogus 999 call so that they didn’t turn up and Boots were awarded a win by default.

Anyway, I spent most of this week worrying that passers-by may think I was an over-paid Premier League footballer (actually, I probably could have been a Premier League footballer but I peaked way too early – for regular readers of this blog, it was during that match for the Cubs against the Brownies when Jimmy Spannerfoot disgraced himself):-

Monday: Bentley Bentayga Diesel, Leicester to Ascot; Bentley Continental GTC W12 (2013), Ascot to Leicester

Tuesday: Bentley Bentayga W12, Leicester to Basildon, Essex; Bentley Continental GTC V8 (2013), Basildon to Leicester

Wednesday: Bentley Continental GTC V8 (2012) to Wolverhampton; Bentley Flying Spur W12 (2014), Wolverhampton to Leicester

Thursday: Bentley Continental GTC W12 (2013), Leicester to Ascot; Bentley Bentayga Diesel, Ascot to Leicester

Friday: Vauxhall Movano van, Cannock, Staffordshire to Nottingham

In truth, it was very pleasant driving these swift and comfortable cars up and down the country but the journeys themselves were rather uninteresting – basically all motorway and quite a bit of congestion. Some relief from trial by motorway came on the second trip to Ascot, when I went via a different route. From Maidenhead to Ascot was a green and pleasant trip through classic Home Counties scenery, including a beautiful little place called Holyport Village. Basically it’s a very large green with the quaintest of pubs and some old houses overlooking it. Apparently, Stirling Moss used to live in Holyport (pronounced Hollyport) and was in the Bray and Holyport Scout Group. I wonder if they ever beat the Bray and Holyport Brownies at football?

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One of the Bentaygas outside the pub in Holyport Village, Berkshire. I’m afraid I cannot tell you what the inside of the pub is like!

Here are a few thoughts on each type of Bentley based on these rather one dimensional journeys (although in the case of the Continentals, I did drive two last week on more varied roads):-

Continental GT and GTC: Despite the Premier League footballer image, these cars have grown on me! I absolutely love the sound of the smaller V8 – even steady, progressive acceleration is rewarded by a deep, loud and lazy fluttering beat like a very laid-back pneumatic drill – or maybe some sort of pod racer from Star Wars Episode 1. My descriptive powers may not do it justice but it is fabulous. By contrast, the faster but more expensive W12 sort of whirrs in a muted way although if you really mashed your right foot into the Wilton, I’m sure it would be more vocal. When cruising, the Continental is appropriately quiet whichever engine is under the long bonnet although you do notice more noise from your surroundings when passing other vehicles in the convertible (no big deal though). The Continental is a true Grand Tourer which is another way of saying that it does not go round corners with much aplomb but would be good at crossing continents quickly and comfortably. In fact it could probably cross a whole continent more quickly than it took me to get to Wolverhampton but that wasn’t the Continental’s fault. So, unlike the Mitsubishi Carisma, the Continental GT has a totally appropriate name. In terms of ride and handling, the V8s and the older W12s I drove felt very similar but last week’s new-ish W12 Speed was noticeably different with heavier steering (despite being in full comfort mode) and being more prone to tramlining. The Continental GT has been around since 2003 and inside it does feel a bit dated. However, the interior is less blingy than the Mulsanne and Bentayga which (from my point of view) is a good thing. There is a new Continental due out soon with underpinnings developed jointly with Porsche and apparently it should be better at twisty bits.

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Continental GTC V8

Flying Spur: A sort of stretched, four door Continental GT but a bit softer. The W12 engine was even more muted than in the Continental GT and extremely quiet when cruising. To emphasis this more restrained approach (compared to its GT sibling), there were no flappy paddles to play with but, no surprise, a very quick car. The dashboard is taken from the Continental GT but the materials in the Flying Spur that I drove were more understated. A very quick way for four adults to cross continents.

Bentayga: Won’t say anything about the looks. I suppose Bentley had to jump on the SUV band wagon. More wood and bling than in the Continental GT and Flying Spur but of course comfortable, quiet and fast in a straight line – like a Flying Spur on stilts. The diesel Bentayga is the quietest diesel (almost silent!) I have ever driven but then again it is the most expensive diesel I have ever driven. In addition, it lays claim to being the fastest diesel SUV in the world. It can also manage 35 – 39mpg in the real world. Not bad for such a big and quick lump. By comparison, the W12 Bentleys managed mid to high 20s and I did 33mpg in the Continental GT V8 on the 130 mile journey from Basildon to Leicester.

Incidentally, I drove these Bentleys while working for the Bentley dealer in Leicester – collecting customers’ cars for service and returning them. Two of these customers lived 120-130 miles away but have their Bentleys collected and taken to Leicester for their oil change. And these two customers had loan cars while their Bentleys were in the workshop. Not your run-of-the-mill courtesy car like a Ford Fiesta or clapped out Renault Clio with “Bert’s Autos” written on the side but new Bentley Bentaygas. Different world. So, I was on my best behaviour, tugging my forelock and only speaking when I was spoken to.

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Gratuitous supercar photo – Lamboghini Aventador at the Bentley/Lamborghini dealer

Colin

 

WEEKLY CAR DIARY & STEAMY CLASSICS AT THE GREAT CENTRAL RAILWAY

Following my incarceration in IKEA the other week, I was subjected to a new sport last weekend: IKEA sliding door wrestling. I eventually won but only after extra time and penalties. Didn’t feel much of a victory though. Bit like when I was in the Cubs and we scraped a 1-0 win over the Brownies at football but only because our centre forward, Jimmy “Rewind”* Spannerfoot, tripped over his own woggle in their penalty area and won a dubious spot kick. Hollow. Started building an IKEA wardrobe Saturday afternoon, finally finished Tuesday afternoon after several hard fought rounds with the sliding doors (OK, I did do a few things in between – like eat and sleep and a little bit of work). Most cricket test matches are shorter these days. Although I won, I do not intend to defend my title; at least not for a very very long time. IKEA is an acronym for the Swedish equivalent of “Death by Allen Key”. Didn’t know that? No, I wouldn’t believe a word I say either. This whole episode proved what I have known for many years: that DIY is not my forté (until recently, I thought Screwfix was a seedy dating agency). Still, at least I had the foresight to build the wardrobe in our bedroom. Not like my brother who once constructed a wardrobe downstairs in the lounge so that he could watch television at the same time. You can guess the rest of that sorry tale (which is, in fact, absolutely true). Don’t worry Little Brother, this will only be read by three other human beings and a computer-literate cat in Basingstoke so your secret is more or less safe.

….. * “Rewind” because he was not a fast forward.

Fortunately, there was some work to enjoy this week (more of a lightly-spiced korma after last week’s vindaloo):-

Monday: Volvo V40 R-design D2, Leicester to Rockingham, Northamptonshire.

Wednesday: Range Rover Evoque TD4 and Jaguar F-Pace 3.0d S, Rockingham, Northamptonshire

Friday: Ford Focus 1.5TDCi Zetec (2016), Leicester to London; Nissan Note 1.2 Acenta Premium, London to Swindon

First Jaguar F-Pace I have driven. Nice. Plenty of laid back muscle from the 3 litre turbo diesel, restrained black leather interior (no traditional Jaguar wood) and comfortable. Only drove it 25 miles – in pouring rain.

Had time off for good behaviour on Saturday morning (thus putting off the wardrobe building) to go to a small classic car event at the nearby Great Central Railway in Quorn together with my neighbour who has an immaculate MG TF replica (a Gentry kit car for those in the know). The Great Central Railway is, apparently, “the UK’s only double track, main line heritage railway and the only place in the world where full size steam engines can be seen passing each other”. So there you go. Actually, its great to visit, even if you are not a train buff.

The GCR runs for just over 8 miles from north of the city of Leicester to the market town of Loughborough. There are four stations along the line, each restored to represent different eras:  Leicester North (1960s), Rothley (Edwardian), Quorn and Woodhouse (1940s) and Loughborough Central (1950s). All wonderfully atmospheric! There are moves in progress to link the line to a heritage railway in Nottingham and to build a new museum at Leicester North. If you are tempted to visit, check the Great Central Railway’s website for any special events that may be happening (e.g. 1940s weekend, modelling events, real ale train!!). You can also dine on board.

We only spent a couple of hours at the very quaint Quorn and Woodhouse station because the weather was a little gloomy. A good portion of that time was spent in the Butler-Henderson café having a cuppa with my neighbour and two “Friends of the Great Central Railway”. A lot of conversation revolved around railways and, I must confess, I didn’t understand all of it. Butler-Henderson? Yes, there is a connection with Vicki Butler Henderson (well-known petrolhead, motoring journalist and TV presenter). Captain The Honourable Eric Butler-Henderson was the last new director of the original Great Central Railway, appointed in 1918 and the great grandfather of VBH.

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R-L: Beautiful TR2; my neighbour’s Gentry and my Sprite (rare moment with hood up due to a few spots of rain; have never driven it with hood up)

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Classic steam and classic cars

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L-R: Porsche 356 replica (Chesil Speedster); pristine Triumph TR4; Jaguar MKII  3.8

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Forget your DB11, this is a DB950 (Taskmaster)! David Brown was still making tractors in 1974 despite buying Aston Martin in 1947. This RAF tug was beefy enough to pull a Victor bomber.
Colin