Beauty and the beast

Beauty and the beast

BQ Scotland invited a group of business people to put two very different executive cars to the test – the Bentley Continental GT and the Maserati Ghibli.

Some cars become instant legends – as soon as it was launched, the Maserati Ghibli started turning heads, especially among fleet managers who had become fed-up with the standard choices of Audis, BMWs and Mercedes. Others have a strong heritage that makes any new model a must-see, with the Bentley Continental GT carving a place in the hearts of everyone from performance car enthusiasts through to successful entrepreneurs and even professional footballers.

The Bentley Continental GT W12 Speed boasts a 12-cylinder, six-litre engine and two turbo chargers, while the Maserati Ghibli clocks in with a three-litre V6 and 20-inch Urano alloy wheels. So they’re both sporty and they’re both high-performance, but they’re two very different cars when they’re lined up side-by-side. What did our drivers make of these two impressive beasts?

“I was a bit concerned about the fact that it was two tonnes of luxury,” laughs Stephen O’Neill, managing director at Newton Property Management in Glasgow after he stepped out of the Bentley. “It was beautiful – it just drifted along like a nimble, sure-footed sports car.

I drove for 5,000 miles through Europe in my Porsche last summer, which was awesome, but it would have been even more awesome if I’d been driving that Bentley. The car I have is an easy drive, but that Bentley was magical drive – it’s like a racing magic carpet.”

The Bentley also caught the eyes of both Roddy Mackay, a director at specialist outdoor clothing and equipment retailer LD Mountain Centre, and Kulmeet Arora, or Bob to his friends, owner of Sachins and Peace & Loaf restaurants, who each came up from Newcastle for the event.

“I got the feeling that you could use the Bentley all-day, every day for everything,” says Mackay, whose step-father, Keith Hall, was a racing driver for Lotus in the 1950s. “It’s comfortable, it’s luxurious and the Bentley heritage is there with the chrome finishes, the knobs, the buttons, and the dials. You still get that Bentley feel.”

Arora, who applied to become a Top Gear presenter about eight years ago and got down to the final four candidates for the job that was eventually taken by James May, drives a Porsche Cayenne and Porsche Cayman. So how did the Bentley compare to his usual rides?

“The Porsches are great cars but the main difference is that the Bentley is much more luxurious inside. The engine just sounds amazing as well. It’s a great car to drive, considering it’s a two tonne car.

I’ve always had an interest in the appearance of cars, but perhaps not so much the mechanical side of things,” confesses Lesslie Young, chief executive at Epilepsy Scotland, whose driving history ranges from a grass green Ford Fiesta through Alfa Romeos, Daimlers and BMWs.

“I love the sleek, elegant lines of a car. I’m not so interested in how it works as much as the results of how it works. Today is an absolute treat – I’ve always had a passion for a Bentley. It exceeded my expectations. So luxurious and so good looking.”

Then came the Maserati, and the drivers were queueing up to praise a car that delivered looks and performance at a price tag to suit many pockets. “This is a beautiful car that we have here today,” says David Quate, managing director at Strathclyde Park-based DSG Capital Finance which provides funding for businesses to buy assets such as prestige vehicles, trucks and vans, as well as directors looking to buy cars.

“The Maserati is an interesting car, because it comes in at a starting price of £49,160” muses O’Neill. “To look at it and when you step inside it, you’d think it’s a £70,000 or £80,000 car. In relation to the equivalent cars I run in our office, this one is much more interesting. It has a sportiness and eagerness that you just don’t get in the slightly-tame Jaguars. It feels like a sports car that has five seats.”

“It’s all about the design of the car – the grill, the beautiful lines, the fins, the air-intakes – it’s pleasing to the eye and exciting,” adds Martin Charles Gordon, who runs Glasgow-based Platinum Select Chauffeurs and who uses a Mercedes E250 AMG when driving his clients.

“The car just reeks quality. The sound of the engine was beautiful. It’s a four-door saloon car yet it’s got the performance of a sports car. I’d certainly consider a car like a Maserati – it’s food for thought because it has that exclusivity, which is something I look for.”