By Sala Masindane
It is 5:30 pm, I am generally late for all my flights and one day I will miss it. Not this one though, I have been looking forward to my first international launch. To be honest I checked in at 16:30 already and was at O.R Tambo International airport at 17:00. After check-in, we (travel colleagues) made our way to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (business lounge) for an early dinner while waiting to board. I have often heard people talking about butterflies in the stomach and for the first time I could relate. I could bore you about our 11-hour flight but I will spare you the details. One thing that I can mention is that we had to circle around the airport until we land after 6:00 am. This is due to a ‘curfew’ on all airplanes landing at Heathrow International Airport in London before as noise pollution is a serious thing for the homeowners residing near the airport.
The more you travel outside of your comfort zone is the more you realize how big the world is big. Landing at Heathrow is definitely another rude awakening. The airport is massive and very complicated, especially when flying in for the first time. Unfortunately, we could not explore London, as we had to take a connecting flight to Manchester that was due to take off at 10:10 am. On arrival to the Manchester Airport, we had a crew of Bentley butlers waiting to chauffer us to the Rockery Hall in Crewe. Originally built in the 1816, the Georgian style Rockery Hall was constructed on an asymmetrical plan consisting of two storey’s and five bays. Through the years the house was turned into a hotel and restaurant where 29 more rooms were added. We had lunch and dinner at the hall, after which we retired to our spacious rooms as the following day had a lot in store for us.
After breakfast, we paired in twos and drove the Bentayga V8s to the Bentley Motors factory, also in Crewe, which is a 15mins drive from Rockery Hall. Upon entering the factory drive way, we were met by Bentley’s of all shapes and sizes, from the Flying Spur, Mulsanne, Continental GT and of course the Bentaygas. This was not a shock but a reminder of where we were and the rich history in our presence. The tour of the factory was preceded by a brief visit to the Bentley Museum, where Bentley’s 1920 EXP, the “Blower Team Car”, S1 Continental Flying Spur and the first edition 2003 Continental GT, to mention a few, are located. Mind you, these are all still in running condition. Other noticeable collectibles included the original Bentley wings, the famous round lights and the “enduring Bentley grille”.
Personally the tour could have ended there, I had already been schooled enough but the best was yet to be seen. The factory itself is full of life, literally. Many hard working human beings occupy it and so does the machinery. There are things that are done by the machinery but most are physically touched; these include the veneer selection and cutting, including the cutting of the hide leather and the world famous table fork stitched steering wheel. Yes, the steering wheel is stitched by a table fork. After the emotive tour, we were fortunate enough to have lunch with the Heads of Interior and Exterior design, just for them to further explain the work and man-hours that go into building a Bentley from scratch. The day ended with a two-hour drive to Lygon Arms, Broadway, which was the sleepover stop for the night. Broadway is in countryside of the United Kingdom, and is calm and slow.
Day 3 and Drive
Day 3 included a drive of the Bentley Bentayga V8 petrol across to Daylesford Farm and Danesfield House, where the program ended. The Bentayga V8 petrol, just like the V8 diesel is identifiable by the gloss black radiator matrix grille with a chrome surround and center bar, while the tailpipes are also slightly altered. The growling sound from the 4.0-litre V8 engine that kicks 404kW and 770Nm of torque is probably the biggest distinction between the two models. While the 0-100 km/h sprint is done at an impressive 4.5 seconds. The Bentayga V8 petrol is more responsive than its diesel sibling. The comfortable handcrafted hide seats that are available in 15 standard colors ensured the 200 km traveled on the third day was smooth and unnoticeable. For those that are into bespoke and prefer a personalized SUV, options are plenty on the Bentayga V8 range, e.g. the Mulliner and the Naim ultra sound system.
We are grateful to Bentley South Africa for the opportunity to experience their finest vehicle in its home country. We cannot wait to see the impressive Bentley Bentayga on the streets of our beloved South Africa.
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