"Sadly, Andy Carolan passed away in November 2012. Our condolences to his family and friends. We have left this review up as a tribute to very fine person. We hope that it brings some comfort to those who are mourning the loss of a family man and an outstanding Scottish business figure" - BQ Scotland Editor Kenny Kemp.
Sometimes you require the company of some bright young minds to remind you of the pure pleasure of driving.
I picked up the Bentley Continental GT convertible from Craig McQueen at Bentley Newcraighall, in Edinburgh, and it was a delight.
Once the photographs were done, I was able to drive this beautiful beast into town for my lunch appointment at the Sheraton Grand.
None of the usual glass or two of Chateau Lyonnat rouge today, purely sparkling water, because I had an interesting motoring assignment for BQ Scotland.
I was asked to take the Bentley out on the highways and byways of East Lothian, Scotland’s answer to the Hamptons, for a jaunt around the narrow bends amid the summer hedgerows.
Pretty much everything about this car is statistically impressive: 4-litre V8, 500 horsepower , 0-60 in under five seconds, top speed 188 mph (in a car weighing 2.5 tons and not recommended around Drem!) and a price tag of £147,000.
Beyond the raw numbers, the car is awesome. In terms of comfort, build quality, finish and handling, it’s quite unbelievable. The exhaust is tuned to sound like a growl at tick over, then builds to a Hampden roar.
I confess to being a crazed car-nut because I drove around the multi-storey car park at the Sheraton with all the windows down, simply to enjoy the purr of the engine. Yes, it’s rather environmentally unsound, but I defy any petrol head to do otherwise, given half a chance.
As a keen driver, having previously owned several Mercedes Sports, BMWs and Porsches, including a 911 Carrera 4S, I've been lucky enough to drive a few fast cars, yet nothing compares with
the sheer power of the Bentley.
It’s so deceptive. The size and comfort initially makes you think the car cannot possibly handle like a sports car, but despite the weight and size, it really is impressive, especially in this tight East Lothian bends. Did I hold back?
Yes, I didn't want to push it too hard; the thought of losing control of a car of that weight (and price) was always at the back of my mind.
I reckon if you did happen to have the suicidal tendency to try to get the back sliding out and then lost control, it would take many fences, walls, fields and solid oak trees before finally coming to a full stop.
I live in Gullane and am fortunate enough to have one of the best driving roads in Scotland as part of
my commute - the A198 from Edinburgh to North Berwick. Driving home on a sun
ny Friday afternoon was a delight, and I picked up the family to enjoy an open-top
cruise to North Berwick.
My boys, Mark, aged six, and Conor, aged four, hugely enjoyed the experience initially but, after a few miles, the reality of an East Lothian summer which doesn’t have the Hamptons quotient of sunshine, as compared to the Corniche, became apparent.
Sadly, the roof had to go back up before frostbite set in. Their verdicts were illuminating. Conor noted ‘the roof goes down and up’ - factual, but not particularly debatable, while Mark perhaps summed up my feelings perfectly – ‘Bentley is the best.’
Would I buy one if I had £147,000 to spend on a car? Tough decision, when you think of the competition at this end of the grown-up toys range (Aston Martin, Ferrari, big Mercs: also cabin cruisers and light aircraft I reckon).
My choice would probably be for the Bentley GT Coupe hardtop. More room in the back and boot (100 more litres due to the roof not folding down), even better handling, and a saving of nearly £13,000 on the convertible.
Plus, no need for balaclavas for the kids. Perhaps that very nice man Craig McQueen could sort that one out for another weekend test drive?
Most recently Andy Carolan was part of Business Forum Scotland’s expert panel of business figures. He was chief executive officer of Evans Hunt Scott Euro before setting up Navigator Response Advertising in 1993.
He led the MBO of Faulds Group and sold to Cello plc in 2005.
Bentley Continental GTC 6.0 Litre W12, Recommended Retail Price £152,000 Bentley Edinburgh, Fort Kinnaird, Edinburgh EH15 3HR Tel 0131 475 2100 www.edinburgh.bentleymotors.com