Saudi Arabia ‘is among top 10 Bentley markets’

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Robin Peel, Bentley’s head of marketing and communications — international.
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Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e
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Interior of the EXP 12
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Interior of the EXP 12
Updated 16 April 2017

Saudi Arabia ‘is among top 10 Bentley markets’

Bentley’s first and most luxurious sport utility vehicle (SUV), Bentayga, led the company’s sales in 2016 and is likely to be in high demand this year as well, according to Robin Peel, Bentley’s head of marketing and communications — international. He told Arab News that Saudi Vision 2030 could potentially lead a recalibration of regional priorities and inspire the emergence of a new economic model.

Bentley recently opened its largest showroom in the world in Dubai and counts Saudi Arabia as one of the three Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries that make up the top 10 markets in the world for Bentley.
Following are the excerpt of the interview:
With a focus on the Saudi market, how did Bentley perform in the region in 2016?
Bentley Motors delivered 11,023 cars globally in 2016, a record high and the company’s fourth consecutive year above the 10,000-mark.
Bentley delivered 1,239 cars to the Middle East in 2016, against 1,274 cars in 2015. Saudi Arabia continues to be an important part of the GCC market for Bentley, and has maintained a strong market share as in previous years.

How do you assess the economic situation and consumer confidence in the region in view of the volatile oil prices?
Bentley Motors is going from strength to strength in the Middle East in 2016 opening its largest showroom in the world, a 75,000-sq. ft. retail development on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai.
However, while not immune to the challenging conditions in the automotive sector, we have consistently worked hard to build a sustainable platform to enable long-term growth and continue to ensure that our discerning customers receive the highest standards of service they rightly expect. This will help Bentley to deliver a strong 2017, with the Bentayga continuing to play an important role, in addition to exciting plans ahead to introduce future models, allowing more of our customers around the world to experience Bentley’s unique combination of luxury and performance.

How is Bentayga doing in the region and what is the feedback you are receiving from customers?
Adding to the exquisite line-up of the Bentley range, which includes the flagship Mulsanne, the luxurious Flying Spur and the powerful Continental family, the Bentayga has broadened Bentley’s appeal beyond our traditional base of customers. Redefining the SUV segment and the Bentley ownership experience, Bentayga is being driven and enjoyed by our customers around the world. Customers have recognized that the technology we have used in the Bentayga to enhance the driving experience and driver aids, is both innovative and highly advanced, and these cutting-edge features complement the trademark Bentley craftsmanship.

How relevant is the Saudi market for Bentley in terms of sales, ranking and best-selling models?
With the UAE currently the global leader in terms of sales, along with Qatar, the Saudi market is one of the three GCC countries that make up the top 10 markets in the world for Bentley.
In terms of bestselling models, Bentley has almost 100 years’ worth of experience in creating high-performance luxury automobiles that have each made their own mark in their time. Last year, the Bentayga, the world’s fastest and most luxurious SUV, led sales. For 2017, we envisage that the Bentayga will continue to be a highly desirable luxury purchase.

How do you assess the possible impact of Saudi Vision 2030 on activities in the regional markets?
As the top oil exporter of the Middle East, and the second in the world, Saudi Arabia, through the implementation of its Vision 2030, could potentially lead a recalibration of regional priorities and inspire the emergence of a new economic model. By opening up the economy to foreign investors, the diversification in the Kingdom’s economy could affect the region as a whole.
This, in turn, has the potential to increase investment in the automotive industry, particularly in the luxury sector, encouraging greater sales in high-end brands such as Bentley Motors.

Do you have programs to train local GCC talent at your facilities?
Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe is home to all of its operations including design, research and development (R&D), engineering and production of the company’s four model lines — the Continental, Flying Spur, Bentayga and Mulsanne.
This is where we concentrate our training programs for young people and the company recently launched its 2017 trainee recruitment in the UK, with 60 positions available for apprentices, undergraduates and graduates, across all business areas.

How is Bentley proceeding with the future of electric and plug-in hybrid models?
As a car manufacturer, we take a responsible approach to the sustainability of our production and products. We have been working to adopt new environmentally friendly technologies within our cars.
For instance, in 2014 we launched a hybrid concept based on our flagship model, the Mulsanne, showing that hybrid technology can enhance even the pinnacle of luxury and performance. This was an extraordinary development in technology and I commend our talented group of engineers and designers in Crewe who created our specialized hybrid plug-in system.
It’s certainly something we would like to incorporate into our new models, and the first Bentley Hybrid will be launched in the first half of next year.
At the recent Geneva Motor Show, we showed a concept EXP 12 Speed 6e, and we will shortly be taking this concept around the world to gauge feedback from potential customers.

Elegance with a hint of jet fighter: The McLaren 2020 GT

Updated 04 October 2020

Elegance with a hint of jet fighter: The McLaren 2020 GT

  • ‘It has the threat and power of a shark’
  • Buying a McLaren GT from the showroom will set you back at least $210,000

DUBAI: I like the idea of Grand Tourers — GTs as they are known in the motor business. At their best, they combine the exhilaration of sports car driving with just a little bit more room and comfort, for when you are making the “grand tour” they are designed for.
It is a segment of the luxury car market that British carmaker McLaren eyed warily for a while. Perhaps more than any other super-sports carmaker, McLaren has stuck to its racing car roots. Would a GT not be a betrayal of that long and valued heritage?
But last year, McLaren took the leap into the GT space and has come up with a little gem of a vehicle.
The 2020 version I drove — courtesy of the accommodating people in its Dubai headquarters — was GT enough to make you contemplate a drive through the Rub Al-Khali Empty Quarter, but sporty enough to raise eyebrows on Jumeirah Beach Road.
It looks exquisite. McLaren designers seem to have sat down and picked out all the sexiest, sleekest features from all other supercars and blended them perfectly in the GT — then added some more just as a bonus.
Looking at it head-on from the front, it has the threat and power of a shark. The body is all flowing lines and elegant contours. The rear has just a hint of jet fighter about it.
With a carbon fiber and aluminum body, it is lighter than any in its class, which accounts for the neck-breaking power you get out of its 4-liter V8 engine. You can hit 200 km in nine seconds from standing, and if you put your foot to the floor you will reach 326 km per hour.

For connoisseurs of engine noise, the sound on acceleration is raw and powerful, but not overpowering enough to make you concerned for your hearing. McLaren has stuffed plenty of advance insulation into the car. From outside, there is a gratifying boy-racer power crack, if revving up at the lights is your kind of thing.
A reworked suspension system, combined with McLaren’s hydraulic steering, means you retain the racing car feel but without the bumpy ride some sports cars give you.
It is low on the ground. In fact, you would have to practice entry and exit in private in order to do it with any grace in public. But the butterfly doors give you plenty of access room at least.
So how would I feel embarking on a long drive in the McLaren GT? Well, I would be confident that I would have a reasonable amount of luggage for one thing. The rear opens up to show enough space for two golf bags, and the front boot also has plenty of room for a weekend for two.
Only one small word of dissent here. My wife complained that there was nowhere to put her stuff. “This is a real boy’s car isn’t it — golf clubs but no room for a handbag,” she said.
In fact, I could see women being especially delighted to own and drive the McLaren GT. It is less macho and more intimate than other GTs, and is definitely a car to be seen in. 
The two-seat cabin is well designed and, again, intimate, with a stack of hi-tech features. A British audio system is a novelty these days, but sounded great.
Buying a McLaren GT from the showroom will set you back at least $210,000, depending on the color you choose and the level of interior decor. The one I drove was in a seductive amaranth red, and had plenty of leather and chrome inside.
I loved driving it through the canyons of Sheikh Zayed Road. Next time, the Empty Quarter.