Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila
A CAR showroom isn’t, and shouldn’t be, solely about selling cars, and premium luxury marque Bentley Motors subscribes to this way of thinking.
Averred Bentley Manila managing director Christopher Chan: “The brand is not just about cars… It’s also a lifestyle, and our showroom should mirror that lifestyle through a comfortable space for customers.”
Concurred the Bentley Motors Asia Pacific director Katya Zavialova: “The showroom should draw you in to spend time with the brand.”
Carving out a reputation for both opulence and heightened performance since its inception in 1919, Bentley has always looked after all facets of its image which, again, extends beyond the actual vehicles the company makes. “Through the years, the brand has epitomized luxury, innovation and excellence. In keeping with these values, the world-class showroom bears sophisticated design and effortless elegance, showcasing a space with a bespoke and uniquely British feel,” said the company in a news release.
Bentley’s new Manila showroom in Bonifacio Global City is bright and inviting — illuminated by sunlight filtering through its glass walls. It is cool and comfortable within the 250-square-meter-plus space, which can accommodate three cars. Bentley Manila also showcases the re-imagined corporate identity initiated by the brand two years ago, and which it rolled out starting 2017.
“Before, there used to be a lot of wood,” explained Ms. Zavialova to BusinessWorld. “We’d have wooden floors, green walls, green furniture… It just needed a refresh or uplift.” There’s nothing facetious about the facelift either, as the executive maintained it’s about “taking the brand into the 21st century.” At the “configuration area” is a white round table with four swivel chairs. Swatches of leather and other materials adorn a white display panel, while a flat-screen TV hangs from a light-hued wooden panel. Adjacent to this space is a lounge which allows the customers to do some reading while perhaps sipping on some coffee or even whisky. A wood-framed cabinet displays Bentley lifestyle items such as branded shirts, jackets, caps, luggage, and other paraphernalia.
As one would correctly guess, this deliberate refresh means relevancy to a new generation of wealthy, discriminating and younger car buyers — which actually reflects not only a planned direction, but one which is already happening.
Bentley is not averse to the use of technology when it can enhance the experience. For instance, tablets have made their way onto the scene of the point of sale. Again, change doesn’t come for its own sake. There’s always good reason and rational thinking behind it.
What makes a Bentley a Bentley will never be sacrificed — such as the tactile experience afforded its customers in pursuit of customized perfection. “Traditional Bentley comes in via a bespoke configuration area which is regularly updated to make sure we showcase all our samples. The digital aspect is in using the configurator, although [we want to make it about] touching, feeling, smelling,” underscored Ms. Zavialova.
NEW CONTINENTAL GT CONVERTIBLE
Meanwhile, Bentley last week took the wraps off the all-new Continental GT Convertible, which further bolsters its reputation for designing and producing much-coveted grand tourers. Said Bentley Motors chairman and chief executive Adrian Hallmark in a news release: “We have been building luxury Grand Tourers since the company was founded in 1919 and, as we approach our centenary year, the Continental GT Convertible joins a highly acclaimed range — arguably the strongest and most technologically advanced portfolio of products the world has ever seen in one luxury brand.”
Powered by a 6.0-liter W12 engine mated to a dual-clutch eight-speed transmission, the convertible accesses 626hp and 900Nm to post a standstill-to-100kph time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 333kph.
The British automaker revealed the tailored convertible roof can be deployed or stowed in just 19 seconds even with the car moving at speeds of up to 50kph. “This transforms the Continental GT Convertible from a luxurious coupe into an open-top grand tourer at the touch of a button. Seven different fabric hood colors are available, including an authentic tweed finish for the first time.”
The vehicle introduces new features within, such as a more advanced, fully digital, driver-focused instrument panel and Bentley Rotating Display — the latter predicated on a 12.3-inch touch screen housed in a three-sided unit, which revolves from pure veneer to reveal either a touch screen or three analog dials.
Mr. Chan anticipates the Continental GT Convertible to be available locally late in the third quarter of 2019.